The Supreme Court of Appeal upholds the Good Doctor

After winning a 3-year legal battle with the NSW Medical Council, Dr William Russell Pridgeon received the happy news last Thursday (14 April 2022) that the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal) upheld his appeal and he can to return to practice anytime.

Dr Pridgeon worked as a GP for 38 years, with 17 years in Grafton, until October 2018 when his registration was suspended due to child stealing charges, now dropped as unevidenced.

The charges arose over allegations that doctor had assisted a mother to protect her twin daughters from intra-familial sexual abuse.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Pridgeon said ‘The Tribunal and the Supreme Court recognised what it called ‘extraordinary circumstances. My actions would be regarded as exactly what a doctor should do. We have an obligation to protect children from harm,” he said.

‘I believe my actions were honourable, professional’ he said.

“Protecting children is not a crime, in fact the law demands that children are protected. It is against the law not to protect a child.”

Two years ago, supporters rolled a red carpet as he entered the Brisbane Magistrates’ Court. One supporter shook his hand and said “May the force be with you Russell”.

Addressing the media about the criminal charges, Dr Pridgeon said “This case is not about child stealing, it’s about child protection, the desperate efforts of good, law abiding Australians to protect children from rape”.

Flanked by banners and supporters thanking him for being a good doctor and protecting children…

…contrasting banners about the ethics of prosecuting child protectors

 Dr Pridgeon said “The public servants who were supposed to protect these children but did not, apparently do not regard child sexual abuse as a problem’.

‘We have a right to protect children’

Overturning the suspension on his medical license, the NSW Supreme Court of Appeal found there was no complaint against Dr Pridgeon’s practice of medicine. It said “the public interest is not obviously served by the suspension of a competent and experienced doctor whose medical skills are not in question and whose services are in demand simply because he has been charged with offences in respond of which he would appear to have a good arguable defence”.

The Court of Appeal found the Medical Council “paid lip service to the presumption of innocence” with conclusions “patently infected by assumptions of guilt”.

The Council is ordered to pay Dr Pridgeon’s costs.

The Court said the Medical Council erred in law by acting without a proper basis to use its emergency power - no urgency “at any time before or during the Tribunal hearing” and “the circumstances did not warrant its exercise”.

There was no public safety or public interest issue to warrant suspending Dr Pridgeon. 

The Court said public interest must be understood in relation to public health and safety in the practice of medicine.

Dr Pridgeon said he looks forward to practicing medicine again. He thanks the Community for its tireless support and the public interest evidence that showed their regard of him and that supports a good doctor to protect children in such “extraordinary circumstances”.


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