Prof Khalid Khan, who was suspended for groping a colleague, has been reinstated after claiming he has attended courses on maintaining professional boundaries
A disgraced gynaecologist who was unmasked as a groper in a blog penned by a female colleague has been allowed to treat patients again.
Prof Khalid Khan, 55, one of Britain’s top women’s health doctors, has insisted he now uses a personalised ‘safe social zone’ when speaking to women after attending courses on maintaining professional and social boundaries.
Prof Khan had been suspended for 12 months last year after he fondled the breasts of Dr Jen Gunter ‘like an octopus’ whilst both were attending a medical conference.
The investigation into him began after Dr Gunter waived her right to anonymity and blogged about the incident saying she she was inspired to speak out by the ‘Me Too’ movement and what she called ‘the brave women in Hollywood’ who exposed Harvey Weinstein.
The Canadian medic said she had to ‘peel’ Khan off her following the ‘sustained and deliberate’ incident in a hotel bar.
She wrote: ‘He started that octopus body crawl that so many women know only too well. He was nuzzling my neck and his disgusting hot breath was in my ear.
‘He was groping my breasts, running his hands up and down my back, and putting his arm around my waist pulling me against his body.
‘Each time I moved one hand or arm another seemed to take his place. I told him to stop. I removed his hands more forcefully each time.’
Last year, Khan – who was Professor of Women’s Health and Clinical Epidemiology at London’s Queen Mary University and an honorary consultant at Barts and the London School of Medicine – was found guilty of professional misconduct and sexually motivated behaviour and was banned from working in the UK.
But last month a disciplinary panel in Manchester allowed to him to return to unrestricted medical practise after Khan said he had attended courses on maintaining professional boundaries and claimed he had learnt ‘not to deviate from a grey zone’ and ‘to retract back into a safe social zone’ when speaking to women.
Dr Jen Gunter waived her right to anonymity and blogged about incident in 2017, claiming that Khan fondled her breasts in hotel bar while they both attended a conference in the US in 2014
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester was told that the incident took place in October 2014 whilst Dr Gunter and Khan were attending the International Pelvic Pain Society Conference at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago where they were guest speakers.
She was introduced to the professor in the hotel lobby by a friend after dinner and the three of them went to the bar for a drink but Dr Gunter later became separated from her friend and ended up talking to Khan alone.
In her 2017 account Dr Gunter added: ‘The conversation with Dr Khan was going on for literally a few minutes when he placed his hands over my shoulder like we were cuddling.
‘I thought it was odd and weird when he did this but then thought Europeans and all that. Dr Khan then moved his hand down from my shoulder and touched my left breast.
A hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal was told that the incident involving Dr Gunter happened at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois in October 2014 (pictured)
‘I think I was wearing a black short sleeved sweater and he touched my breast over my clothing. I then used my right hand and moved his hand down and pulled away from him.
‘He acted like nothing happened. He didn’t say anything. We carried on chatting, I don’t remember what we chatted about. He kept putting his hands around my waist and he was then nuzzling my neck.
‘I pushed him off and asked him to stop. I pushed him away from me. I recollect being groped about five to six times by Dr Khan.’
Dr Gunter – who is in her 50s – said she was ‘shocked’ at being groped and told several colleagues of the incident that night.
The General Medical Council subsequently investigated her allegations plus further claims Khan tried to kiss another female colleague and told a junior researcher she had a ‘nice bum’.
At his review hearing Khan said during the period of his suspension he had been working on research projects at the University of Medicine in Granada, Spain and had participated in a European-wide project relating to domestic violence.
Prof Khan told the tribunal that he had attended courses to learn how to maintain boundaries, now limits his alcohol intake and avoids conversation topics which may be inappropriate
He had also discussed the issues over his disciplinary hearing with medical colleagues at a recent conference in Denmark.
Khan told the hearing: ‘I have learned to modify my behaviour. I continue to meet colleagues socially but I do not initiate physical contact and avoid conversation topics which may not be appropriate.
‘I have limited my alcohol intake in those situations and I keep conversations on a professional level, rather than on a personal level. I have come to understand that boundaries are not rigid and there is a grey zone.
‘Entrance to the grey zone at a social event is relevant for development of relationships between co-workers however, what is critical is not to deviate beyond the grey zone. I have learnt how to retract back into the safe social zone.
‘I have it constantly in the forefront of my mind when engaging with colleagues specifically in relation to touch, mutual disclosure of information and the power differential.’
In clearing Khan to return to work MPTS chairman Ms Sharmistha Michaels said: ‘Dr Khan has demonstrated some insight by devising techniques and strategies to enable him to handle situations with professional colleagues in the future – both in a social and professional setting, and, in particular, in a conference setting.
‘He is now actively taking responsibility for his actions and interactions with colleagues and the Tribunal is persuaded that the risk of repetition is very low.’