A Dundee doctor’s career hangs in the balance as he faces a medical tribunal into allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman at a house party in 2011.
Oxford University-educated Dr Robert Lawton, 36, is alleged to have forced himself on the woman in her friend’s house after both had attended a birthday party.
Criminal charges against him were dismissed before the case ever appeared in court, but in the wake of the allegations he was forced to refer himself to the General Medical Council.
As a result, Dr Lawton, who has a post in trauma and orthopaedic surgery at Ninewells Hospital, is now in the midst of a 12-day tribunal in Manchester into his fitness to practise.
The tribunal has already heard evidence from his accuser identified only as Miss A who said she fell asleep next to a friend at a house party in Dundee in March 2011.
The witness, who admitted to being “eight or nine out of ten drunk”, said the next thing she could recall was Dr Lawton pulling down her underwear and having sex with her while she burst into tears.
The hearing has heard that Miss A did not report the alleged attack to police for eight months and that it had been almost two years before Dr Lawton was charged with rape, in February 2013.
That charge was dismissed after being investigated by the procurator fiscal in Dundee, but the GMC’s inquiry has nonetheless continued.
Under cross-examination by Dr Lawton’s barrister, Anthony Haycroft, it emerged that Miss A has made three previous claims of rape at house parties going back to her teenage years.
Although Miss A denied she had actively pursued the claims, statements retrieved from police in Scotland showed she had been interviewed by officers regarding each alleged incident.
However, none of the three allegations made it to court and the separate allegations weren’t mentioned in her initial statements to the police or the GMC, it was said.
Opening the case on behalf of the GMC, David Toal said Dr Lawton had been invited to the party by a friend of the alleged victim, having met her in a pub.
Mr Toal told the inquiry: “Miss A says she saw Dr Lawton in bed on the other side of her friend from her and noticed that he was looking at her.
“The next thing she knew, Dr Lawton was behind her pulling down her lower clothing.
“She was telling him she didn’t want to do what he was doing and began crying.
“Dr Lawton ignored Miss A’s protestations and simply continued having intercourse with her.
“The case for the GMC is it must have been perfectly clear to him that Miss A was not consenting to what he was doing but he simply carried on.”
Dr Lawton denies engaging in sexual conduct with Miss A without her consent and against her will.
The hearing continues.
NHS Tayside declined to comment on Dr Lawton’s status, saying it did not comment on “matters relating to individual members of staff”.