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Inner Temple awards £18,500 scholarship to struck-off doctor

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Exclusive: Prestigious prize for mature bar student who was removed from medical register in 2001

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple has refused to explain why it awarded one of its prestigious scholarships to a former doctor struck off the medical register for having sex with a suicidal teenage patient.

Legal Cheek has learned that a mature bar student who was kicked out of the medical profession in 2001 was among the recipients of a £18,500 exhibition award.

But the Inn is remaining tight-lipped on why it chose the ex-medic over the hundreds of unsuccessful scholarship applicants last year.

Inner Temple dishes out more scholarship money than any of its rival Inns of Court, with around £1.9 million up for grabs in 2020.

The awards are highly competitive. The Inn’s figures show that there were 447 scholarship applicants last year, of which 393 were interviewed and 133 successful — around one in three.

Among the successful applicants was Mark Pummell who started the bar course this month. He had a previous career as a doctor, but was struck off the medical register in 2001 for having sex with a 19-year-old patient. He was 38 at the time of the incident.

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The former GP failed in a bid to reverse that decision in 2014, with the Medical Practitioners Tribunal reportedly branding his conduct “predatory and opportunistic”.

Potential barristers must be deemed “fit and proper” to join an Inn and be called to the bar. Red flags include past disciplinary findings by a professional or regulatory body, and behaviour where the person “misused their position of trust in relation to a vulnerable person”.

Inner Temple scholarships are reserved for people with “sound personal values and integrity”.

Contacted by Legal Cheek, Pummell said he had been fully transparent about his past:

“I was required to appear before the Inns Conduct Committee which I did earlier this year… I was unanimously declared a ‘fit and proper person’. I have also held Enhanced DBS standing since November 2013 — this was also awarded in full knowledge of the events of 1999/2001.”

A spokesperson for Inner Temple said:

“Fit and Proper regulations are set by the Bar Standards Board. Any concerns regarding someone being Fit and Proper to become a practising barrister would be referred to the Inns’ Conduct Committee to decide, and would not be determined by the Scholarships Committee or any other body within Inner Temple.”

Asked about the scholarship decision specifically, the spokesperson added: “We do not comment on individual cases”.

A spokesperson for the Inns’ Conduct Committee said: “The ICC does not comment on individual cases”.

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