A doctor from East London has been charged with more than 100 sexual offences including abusing a child, after a major investigation by Scotland Yard detectives.
Manish Shah, a 47 year-old East London doctor and family planning specialist appeared at Barkingside Magistrates Court on Thursday, 31 August and pleaded not guilty to 118 charges of sexual assault relating to 54 complainants.
The Doctor faces 65 charges of assault by penetration, 52 counts of sexual assault and one of sexual assault of a girl under 13. The charges allege almost a decade of abuse and are said to have occurred at his Greater London Romford surgery where he worked as a GP.
The Doctor, having denied all charges, was granted bail pending a Case Management Hearing to be heard on September 27 at Snaresbrook Crown Court. Bail was granted with the conditions that he does not attend his former surgery, and does not contact any current or former patients of the surgery or any of its past or current employees.
The NHS has acted fast to set up a hotline for anyone who feel they may be affected by these matters with the General Medical Council suspending Shah’s licence to practice. He is also barred from accessing any NHS records.
Mr Shah first appeared on 2nd August of this year following a four-year investigation by the complex case unit of Scotland Yard’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command which was launched in July 2013 when the first allegations were reported by a number of individuals.
The sheer scale of these proceedings will mean that it will take months, if not longer, to prepare Mr Shah’s defence. The trial itself will take months, possibly having upwards of 100 witnesses, most of whom are likely to be vulnerable and in need of special measures to assist them in giving evidence.
The existence of special units like the Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command mean that the police have greater resources to investigate such severe cases which are complicated by sheer volume, the number of complainants and charges to investigate - as well as the historical nature of the offences which are alleged to have occurred from 2004 to 2013.
Given the complexities and the size of the case, the volume of disclosure in statements and documentary productions will be significant and likely run into hundreds of pages. While the police have been investigating this matter for four years, Mr Shah’s defence team can only begin now.
It may also occur that due to the latest publicity and the existence of the NHS helpline that Mr Shah’s list of accusers may grow and other charges could follow. What is certain is that regardless of any finding of guilt or innocence which may occur at the end of proceedings, Mr Shah’s career and reputation will likely never recover.
The media scrum that will follow this case will ensure there is plenty of public interest and therefore public opinion and judgement. I anticipate the general opinion of one of abhorrence at the behaviour alleged by a man in a position of trust.
For these reasons alone, it is vital that barristers and solicitors remain resolute in our commitment to a civilised society which is why our criminal justice system is underpinned by the presumption of innocence. This means that every accused requires the most robust defence available to them. It is indeed our law. Article 6 of the ECHR states that every accused has a right to a fair trial. One would hope, all things considered, and despite the probability of public fury, that Mr Shah will get one.
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