A doctor convicted for repeatedly exposing himself at an Auckland landmark can finally be named after nearly seven years of protracted court hearings since he was first caught.
The Court of Appeal todaydismissed Peter Spencer Russell's second bid to challenge a judge's decision to refuse to grant him permanent name suppression.
Only known previously in court documents as "Dr R", Russell argued if media were allowed to out him as the Mt Eden public masturbator his career in medicine and medical research would be irreparably destroyed.
Without name suppression, he said no District Health Board would employ him, which was effectively his only option to work as a doctor because he had not applied for or completed specialist training.
But the Court of Appeal said secrecy would create a conflict with the interests of potential patients, while a suppression order also risked "making doctors a privileged group".
Russell's offending began when he was first seen masturbating in full view of a young female jogger on Mt Eden in June 2013, court documents read.
When caught, he admitted the offending and was granted diversion and name suppression.
But just months later, in September 2013, Russell was before the courts again on two charges of doing an indecent act with intent to offend.
For each charge, he was accused of exposing himself in front of a woman running in the Mt Eden Domain during early June and again to the same woman on August 24, 2013.
Despite Russell denying the new allegations, he was found guilty of both charges in September 2015 and later sentenced to 120 hours' community work.
The doctor, who was also convicted in 2003 of offensive behaviour, was also ordered by the late Judge Robert Ronayne to pay $1000 in emotional harm reparations.
Judge Ronayne also declined his application for permanent name suppression, which was upheld by Justice Matthew Palmer in the High Court last year.
"Professional status does not set you apart in any way that justifies suppression," Judge Ronayne said.
While Justice Palmer added in his decision: "It would not be unexpected for patients to object to being treated by a doctor who has repeatedly engaged in criminal offending by behaving indecently by masturbating in public."
Despite the judges' views, Russell did have support for suppression from some of his medical peers.
In a September 2016 affidavit, Patrick Alley, a senior surgeon and clinical director of surgery at Ormiston Hospital in South Auckland, said Russell was safe to practise in his opinion.
However, he predicted if Russell's name was published no DHB would employ him, given the substantial reputational risk to the organisation.
And in March 2017, Dr Ian Stewart, a general surgeon employed by the Waitemata DHB and previous chair of surgical training on the board of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and professor of surgery at Auckland University John Windsor both provided glowing testimonials of Russell's good character and high level of skills as a junior doctor.
Police did not oppose the suppression bid, while Russell's victim said she was "over it".
In the Court of Appeal's decision, Justice Robert Dobson said the interests of potential patients "conflict directly" with the aspirations of prospective employers and Russell.
He said the doctor's career "justifiably depends on views of patients that could legitimately include views on his own standards of conduct".
The consequences of publication, Justice Dobson further said, would be the same for any doctor and granting suppression may "risk making doctors a privileged group in this context".
Russell had also argued the public should not have the ability to forever search the internet for his offending because his convictions are liable to come within the Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act.
If he met the criteria under the scheme Russell would be deemed to not have a criminal record in October 2022.
But Justice Dobson said it didn't matter.
"These convictions were entered in September 2015 and it is only the unusually protracted sequence of other proceedings and appeals that brings the applicant within two and a half years of the clean slate legislation availing him," he said.
After being found guilty, Russell also faced disciplinary proceedings by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Tribunal noted the irony that "having chosen to act publicly in this way, [Russell] now ... asks for an order which would keep his name out of the public arena".
The proceedings led to Russell's registration being suspended for one year and nine months, and saw him forced to have another person present when consulting with a female patient.
After losing his conviction appeal, however, Russell said he has not worked as a doctor since, while he has also been denied a medical research assistant position.