Doctor who posted controversial Covid videos loses fight to stop Medical Council investigation
Samantha Bailey. Photo / Supplied
A Kiwi doctor under investigation after posting controversial Covid-19 videos has lost his fight to end a Medical Council investigation.
Christchurch doctor Samantha Bailey, who previously hosted a TV1 show, was asking for interim relief to stop the investigation until a judicial review can be heard next year.
However, Wellington High Court Judge Matthew Palmer dismissed the claim on the basis of the balance of convenience and the interests of justice.
The council’s investigative body, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), began investigating Bailey last year after receiving 15 complaints about content she shared online.
In today’s ruling, the judge noted that although she was not currently practicing general medicine, she regularly posted videos online, including on her YouTube channel, which had over 300,000 subscribers.
She describes herself as a “doctor, author” and a “New Zealand-based family doctor,” he said.
While some of the videos were removed by YouTube for violating its medical disinformation policy, and some were removed by it, the judge wrote, all were still available on another platform.
“The posts included statements raising doubts about the polymerase chain reaction
testing and vaccine safety for Covid-19. “
The Pfizer vaccine, which is used in New Zealand, has been used by millions of people around the world and is safe and effective.
Bailey had wanted to halt the council’s investigation until a judicial review she had requested could be heard in February next year.
There, the ruling notes, Bailey will argue that posting videos is not the practice of medicine for which she can be disciplined, and that such action would violate her right to free speech.
“Further, she will argue that while the board’s definition of the practice of medicine is broad enough to capture its Covid-19 content online, it is invalid because beyond the board’s statutory powers,” the ruling said.
Simon Mount, counsel for the board, claimed during this month’s hearing that some of his comments included describing the Pfizer vaccine as an “experimental shot” and that the locks and face masks were futile.
Mount argued at the time that Bailey had not responded to the CCP’s correspondence and that it would be difficult for him to say that his rights to natural justice had been violated because the investigation was not completed.
The lawyer said Bailey was made aware of the details of the investigation, which included her identity as a doctor, information she had “promulgated” to the public on Covid-19 and her adherence to good medical practice.
Mount also noted that Bailey does not have a current certificate of practice and has stopped at least part of his online video posting.
He said no report or provisional findings had been made.
Bailey’s attorney, Rodney Harrison, then said his client’s videos commented on a wide range of issues, including the political handling of Covid-19 on a global scale.
On top of that, he argued that she does not practice medicine online and that she describes herself as a doctor in her personal capacity.
The lawyer said there was no evidence of a public health risk as the last complaint was filed in February this year and the board backed down on its proposal to suspend her from practice.
He claimed that the council did not have the power to regulate freedom of expression.
Palmer wrote that if the court stopped the disciplinary process through interim orders, it would suspend Bailey’s ability to have a reasonable time to respond.
“Disciplinary proceedings should be allowed to continue, in the interests of justice.”