Top heart surgeon's victim complained to management after alleged sexual attack but was told: 'Ignore him, he does it to everyone', court hears

Rozina Sabur
Mohamed Amrani, one of the UK's leading heart surgeons is due to stand trial accused of sex offences - Central News

A top heart surgeon's victim complained to management after an alleged sexual attack but was told, "just ignore him, he does it to everyone", a court heard. 

Mohamed Amrani, 53, is accused of sexually assaulting five women at work in the belief that they would not dare to complain about a doctor of his 'well-deserved renown'.

The consultant surgeon allegedly raped one victim in his office and groped three others during a campaign of 'sexual bullying' at Harefield Hospital in Hillingdon, west London, over a 13 year period between 2001 and 2014.

Amrani, whose wife Clare worked part-time at Harefield, was finally reported to police in 2015 - by which time he had allegedly patted the bottom of a fifth victim at the Cromwell private hospital in Kensington, southwest London, in June 2014.

On Wednesday, his second alleged victim told how she was regularly attacked by the pioneering surgeon over a six-month period beginning in 2003.

Speaking to police on 28 May 2015, more than a decade later, she said Amrani could be "charming and funny", but had an "explosive temper" when things weren't panning out as he expected.

She claimed all of the assaults took place in a hospital office, but when she complained, the now retired theatre manager Jackie Burbidge was "dismissive" and "[laughed] it off as if it was all part of how things were".

Prosecutor Peter Clement asked: "Jackie's attitude was 'dismissive'. How did that make you feel?"

"There were mixed feelings of incredulity that this was something that's known about, which is what it appeared from the response, and we were just expected to ignore it, and it made me feel powerless about what to do. That, and how to deal with it," the alleged victim replied.

Mohamed Amrani, one of the UK's leading heart surgeons is due to stand trial accused of sex offences Credit: Ed Willcox 

She explained how it was not until she was told years later that Amrani had attacked someone else that she was persuaded to make a statement to the hospital.

"I was encouraged by my husband that I couldn't morally stay silent a second time," she said, telling jurors she was then contacted by police in 2015.

But Stephen Vullo QC, representing Amrani, suggested to the alleged victim: "Isn't it true that the only complaint Jackie Burbidge ever received from you in respect of Mr Amrani was that he was 'bloody impatient and lacked respect for staff'?."

The witness replied: "No it is not, sir."

Describing the attacks, she said: "The first one...I was talking to Mr Amrani, I was stood up and he had come into the office and quite without warning and very suddenly he grabbed my breasts with both hands on top of my clothing."

In an achieving best evidence (ABE) video interview, played in court, the woman said she was "shocked and surprised", while Amrani let out a "sheepish laugh" at her reaction.

She told police she tried her best to avoid being alone in the office but was subjected to another two or three similar attacks over the next six months and believed it was during this time she reported Amrani to Ms Burbidge.

"I can't remember my words. I feel I made it very clear I had been assaulted by Mr Amrani.

"Jackie said, 'just ignore him, he does it to everyone'. That's what happened."

The alleged victim said she was "surprised that it was acceptable", adding: "after I had reported it to her, truthfully, I felt very troubled that I had nowhere really to go.

"What I really wanted was just for it to stop....I didn't want to make a big fuss about it, just for it to stop because it was not showing any signs of stopping and I didn't feel like anyone would help me to make it stop."

The woman explained that she did not take the allegations any further because she felt her word would "not be taken seriously" against that of a consultant cardiac surgeon.

"It escalated slightly," the woman told officers, explaining: "I was on my own. I didn't see him arrive. He came into the office behind me and he had his hands inside my top and inside my bra.

"Of course I didn't just stand there, I exclaimed, I was hugely shocked. But I didn't have time really to do anything because he didn't hang around."

The court heard that Amrani once even groped her in front of a female colleague.

"All I can see is [her] shocked face. Her eyes went open and her mouth opened and he grabbed my breasts on top of my clothes then left," she said.

"She said, 'I can't believe it', and was just very shocked."

The woman told how the final attack occurred while she and Amrani were both sat in the office on swivel chairs.

"The chairs have wheels. he moved towards me quickly on the chair and then put his hands between my legs and pushed."

She said Amrani appeared "agitated" when she exclaimed his name, while she was left feeling "awful, shocked and violated".

"After that he never touched me again or did anything vaguely inappropriate."

The woman said she had already reported the attacks before this incident and did not make a further complaint because "I didn't see the point".

Asked why she did not confront Amrani about the alleged assaults, she replied: "I didn't feel that he would react well to any perceived rejection or criticism of his behaviour.

"He reacts very badly to any kind of criticism and he can be either hugely helpful and goes the extra mile or he can do the opposite."

The surgeon, who performed the UK's first double valve replacement using keyhole surgery in 2007 and has carried out many life-saving operations during his career, claims that all five women have made up their allegations.

Amrani, of Georgian Way, Harrow, northwest London, denies one count of rape, one count of assault by penetration, six counts of indecent assault and three counts of sexual assault.

The trial continues.

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