The lawyer for a pilot banned from carrying passengers over fears he might commit murder suicide with a plane has accused the Civil Aviation Authority's principal medical officer of becoming "obsessed" with the pilot's perceived "dangerousness".
Lawyer Fletcher Pilditch suggested Dr Dougal Watson's view on the pilot had become irrational and lacked objectivity when Watson began questioning whether the pilot was stalking him.
Watson has rejected the suggestion as "inaccurate" and "incorrect".
He reached his third day of being cross-examined in the Wellington District Court as part of pilot Captain Graham Lindsay's fight to clear his reputation.
Lindsay has been fighting to clear his name in court since mid-2020, after the passenger ban was put in place in 2018.
The ban, and other conditions imposed on him, came after an "acrimonious divorce" spanning many years, Pilditch earlier said.
In 2016, his ex-wife's partner approached the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suggesting it was possible Lindsay might try to commit murder-suicide by deliberately crashing a passenger jet.
When the initial complaint was made, Lindsay was made to undergo medical surveillance for two years, while still being allowed to carry passengers for his airline, Cathay Pacific.
But in 2018 the restrictions were upgraded to include the passenger ban.
While the passenger ban was eventually lifted, Lindsay is appealing against the CAA's decision in court on principle, arguing it should never have been put in place to begin with.
Yesterday in court, Pilditch suggested Watson had formed a "nefarious perception" of Lindsay, despite the pilot's clean record and generally polite, appropriate dealings with Watson since his medical certificates were first suspended.
Watson began talking to others within the CAA about whether Lindsay was stalking him and others in the department, after Lindsay attended two medical aviation conferences.
He also began googling the definitions of "serial stalker".
"I was trying to find more out about the behaviours I thought I was observing with a serial two attendances at aviation medicine meetings I was attending by someone who, to my knowledge, had never been to such a meeting before," Watson told the court.
Lindsay's attendance at the conferences became one of the factors considered when the CAA imposed the passenger ban.
Pilditch questioned whether Watson could understand Lindsay wanting to attend medical aviation conferences that dealt with the issues of mental health that were currently affecting his own career.
"That is another explanation for the observed behaviour," Watson said.
Pilditch suggested it was a "far more reasonable explanation . . . than that the appellant was stalking you".
But Watson said there were numerous explanations, and his interpretation of Lindsay's behaviour was that it was a type of stalking. He felt the behaviour represented a personal safety risk to himself and his family.
Pilditch suggested the interpretation had gone too far, and that Watson was "overpathologising" Lindsay, something Watson did not accept.
"You had become obsessed by Captain Lindsay's dangerousness at this time to a point that was irrational and lacked objectivity," he said.
"Your concerns were not only concerns related to the appellant: you began to become concerned for the safety of yourself and your family. Did you not reflect at the time that if you held those concerns, you were ceasing to have the necessary objectivity for [making decisions on Lindsay's medical certificates]?"
Watson said he saw that as a possible issue, but nobody within the CAA ever suggested he stop being responsible for the case.
The hearing will continue today.