The Privy Council has partially upheld and partially dismissed an appeal submitted to it by Dr Gerhard Schulze Allen against a decision by the Disciplinary Committee in January 2018 to have him removed from the Register.

The Disciplinary Committee had found Dr Schulze Allen guilty of four charges, namely that he had been convicted of the criminal offence of petty theft in the US which rendered him unfit to practise, and that on three subsequent occasions, twice to the RCVS and once to a notary in California, dishonestly represented that he had no criminal convictions. 

Following the DC hearing, Dr Schulze Allen submitted an appeal to the Privy Council. The basis of his appeal revolved around whether, under Californian law, his conviction for petty theft was a conviction for a criminal offence or an infraction, and whether an infraction under US law was a criminal offence.

The RCVS had argued that while the theft is not a criminal felony in California, it would be considered so under English law. 

However, the Board of the Privy Council which heard the appeal – comprising Lords Wilson, Carnwath and Lloyd-Jones, found the College had not proven beyond all reasonable doubt that Dr Schulze Allen was convicted of a criminal offence under Californian law. It therefore upheld his appeal against the DC’s finding that he had committed a criminal offence.

The Privy Council then considered Dr Schulze Allen’s appeal against the third and fourth of the charges against him - that he was dishonest in his representations to the College that he did not have a ‘criminal’ conviction and did not have a ‘criminal record’. The Privy Council found that, since the conviction for petty theft was an infraction, and was not a criminal offence and did not leave Dr Schulze Allen with a criminal record, then, strictly speaking, his representations to the RCVS were not false and so upheld his appeal against these two charges.

The Privy Council then considered Dr Schulze Allen’s appeal against the College’s second charge against him. This charge was that he had, in a written application for restoration to the Register, represented that he did not have any cautions, criminal convictions or "adverse findings". The College argued that he still had a responsibility to make a full and frank disclosure about his infraction, even if it did not meet the threshold of ‘criminal’ under Californian law. 

The Board of the Privy Council said it had, on Dr Schulze Allen’s behalf, done its best to identify some argument that his conviction for a petty theft infraction did not amount to an "adverse finding", but failed. Rather, it found that "the conviction obviously amounted to an adverse finding." 

The Board added that "there is no material by reference to which the Board [of the Privy Council] can depart from the [Disciplinary] Committee’s conclusion that, in answering “no” to that question, he knew that his answer was untrue. In other words, his denial was dishonest."

The Board therefore allowed the appeal against the DC’s conclusion on the first, third and fourth charges. But it dismissed the appeal against its conclusion on the second charge, namely that in that regard Dr Schulze Allen had been guilty of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect."

The Board then set aside the original sanction, that Dr Schulze Allen be removed from the Register, and tasked the Committee with identifying the appropriate sanction in relation to the second charge.

The Disciplinary Committee will now hold a further hearing to decide the sanction, at some time in the future. In the meantime Dr Schulze Allen remains on the Register of Veterinary Surgeons.

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