Manish Shah GP: Tributes paid to bravery of sexual predator’s victims as police encourage any more to come forward
PUBLISHED: 15:10 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:26 07 February 2020
Police are appealing for any victims of sexual assault to come forward after the conviction of a “reprehensible” Romford GP who preyed on his vulnerable female patients.
Manish Shah of Brunel Close was handed three life sentences after being convicted of 90 sex offences against 24 former female patients at the Old Bailey on Friday, February 7.
The former doctor, who will serve at least 15 years behind bars, targeted female patients at the Mawney Medical Centre in St Edwards Way.
Alison Millar, of Leigh Day solicitors, told the Recorder the sentencing was a "very powerful experience" and that her client welcomed the three life sentences.
She said: "The judge gave details of all the experiences of the woman who Shah assaulted, and set out how horrendous it had been for each of them.
"My client has been really psychologically affected as a result of his behaviour.
"Particularly because she finds it very difficult to ever have confidence in a doctor undertaking a medical examination again.
"This has been really hard for her, especially as she needs ongoing medical care."
Ms Millar, who is a partner and the head of the abuse team at Leigh Day, said she could not imagine a more serious breach of trust.
She agreed with the judge's comments in court that the crime was akin to violent offending.
"One of the things that really came out [in court] today, was that the patients were really worried that they had something seriously wrong with them," said Ms Millar.
"He mentioned cancer to people and would conduct smear tests and then wouldn't even send the results away.
"These poor patients were left worrying. It's really difficult to think of more reprehensible behaviour."
The lawyer said Shah was "incredibly cruel and callous" and although the scale of his crimes was "unusual", it was not unique.
"These cases do have a knock-on effect on the wider confidence in healthcare professionals," said the lawyer.
"It is the end of the road for my client in terms of this criminal investigation. I will be advising her on other forms of redress for her to consider.
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"I think there needs to be reflection now and learning on how this could have gone on for quite so long and whether there were red flags, warning signs, that could be looked into in terms of preventing further cases of this nature in the future."
One of Shah's patients told the BBC: "He would say you need to have these sexual health tests, to make sure you're safe
"I thought if a doctor suggests it you pretty much go along with it.
"He just duped so many people.
"He used our weaknesses and fears and took complete advantage.
"But not one time did I actually think he was doing anything untoward."
Det Supt Tara McGovern, of Scotland Yard, said: "A case like this is extremely rare and, when the victim came forward and reported to the local surgery about her concerns, they immediately took action.
"They contacted the police and he was suspended."
The detective superintendent said the investigation had been a "really complex case" which involved officers speaking to more than 130 victims, the taking of dozens of statements and advice from medical experts.
"What we really are thankful for is the victims who have not only demonstrated courage and dignity but have also demonstrated patience in supporting us in bringing this man to trial," said Det Supt McGovern.
"We will work with NHS England to review everything that happened in the lead-up and whether or not there were any signs, (whether) we could have acted sooner.
"I would like any victim of sexual assault to come forward and be confident coming forward and speaking to us because we will listen to you, support you and work extremely hard to get you justice."
A spokeswoman from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) added: "Shah not only inexcusably manipulated a huge number of women, but a girl still in high school.
"She, alongside the many women who gave evidence against Shah, has shown incredible courage in speaking out and ensuring he could be brought to justice.
"We want survivors of child sexual abuse to know they will be listened to, regardless of how many years have passed or who the abuser is.
"They can speak in confidence to trained counsellors at the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000, while Childline is there for young people on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk."
The NHS also has a dedicated number for any individuals who may have concerns or questions. They can be contacted on 0800 011 4253.