Name of doctor who emailed photos of his genitals revealed

An Auckland doctor who won an appeal to get his job back after being sacked for sending e-mail photos of his genitals to a woman friend, has lost his fight to remain anonymous.

He can now be named as Dr Harvey Douglas White, Director of Coronary Care and Director of Cardiovascular Research, at Auckland City Hospital, and one of the world's leading cardiologists.

In a judgment issued today, the Supreme Court dismissed Dr White's application for leave to appeal against a judgment of the Employment Court in which the court refused to make a permanent order prohibiting publication of his name when determining a personal grievance hearing.

The Supreme Court lifted the order preventing publication of Dr White's name, and ordered that he pay the respondent, Auckland District Health Board, costs of $2500 together with reasonable disbursements.

Dr White -- reported to earn more than $200,000 a year -- used a new camera phone to take photos of his genitals while in the toilet of his house.

He downloaded them on to his hospital computer two days later.

He was dismissed by Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) in early 2005 after details of the photographs came to light.

In May 2005 he was granted interim reinstatement by the Employment Relations Authority.

The Employment Court then ordered the doctor be reinstated, but did not grant permanent name suppression or compensation.

When Dr White took his case to the Employment Court in late 2005 he wanted $60,000 and permanent reinstatement.

The court ordered he be reinstated but did not grant permanent name suppression or compensation, with Judge Graham Colgan saying Dr White had won quick interim reinstatement to his job and that he was largely the architect of his own troubles.

Giving evidence at the Employment Court hearing, Dr White said he tried to e-mail one of the pictures to a female friend in imitation of a TV advertisement screening at the time.

Judge Colgan said his actions were "bizarre and inappropriate" but said his employer had not acted lawfully when it dismissed him.

"Put simply, had he not engaged in these logically inexplicable acts of self-gratification, it is unlikely that he would have been dismissed," Judge Colgan said.

In May this year the ADHB cross-appealed to the Court of Appeal for its dismissal of Dr White to be upheld and for his identity to be made public.

His lawyer, John Haig, QC, said the doctor had been without incident since his reinstatement, had admitted his bad behaviour, said he was wrong, and not reoffended. ADHB lawyer Kit Toogood, QC, said the case rested on what a fair and reasonable employer would have done.

Both those applications were dismissed by the Court of Appeal in a judgment delivered in June.

Dr White then applied under section 214A of the Employment Relations Act 2000 for leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court against the decision of the Employment Court refusing him permanent name suppression.

The Supreme Court said the application raised several matters as satisfying the requirement of extremely compelling circumstances warranting a direct appeal to it.

Among the matters concerned the likely consequences of refusal of name suppression.

"It is said these will extend beyond embarrassment and humiliation of the applicant and his family and that the prospects of continuing employment of those who work in his research unit will be put at risk," the Supreme Court said in its judgment.

"Such circumstances are not especially unusual and, we accept, are always relevant to name suppression decisions of the courts.

But the Supreme Court said the consequences for third parties raised no compelling circumstances that warranted the hearing of an appeal.

It dismissed Dr White's application and said the order preventing publication of his name ceased to have effect.

Dr White was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2003.

Fellowships are conferred on scientists, research engineers and technologists for distinction in research and the advancement of science and technology.

His output of research publications was formidable and the international impact of his work was such that he was regarded as one of the world's leading cardiologists.


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