Gag order lifted on identity of psychiatrist who was banned for sexual advances on patient

August 17, 2012

The identity of a psychiatrist struck off for making inappropriate sexual advances against a vulnerable patient can now be revealed.

The ACT [Australian Capital Territory] Civil and Administrative Tribunal this week lifted a long-standing gag-order on the name of Hugh Victor Veness.

The move comes after a push from the ACT Government Solicitor's office and the patient, who publicly called for the order to be lifted.

Earlier this year the tribunal found Dr Veness was ''not in a fit and proper state to continue practice as a psychiatrist''.

It cancelled his registration, banning him from reapplying to practice until authorities say otherwise. But the non-publication order, granted by Tribunal general president Linda Crebbin in 2010, prevented The Canberra Times and other media from naming the doctor.

An order still protects the identity of the patient, who last night said her ''heart lifted'' at the news the doctor could be named.

''I'm relieved, I'm happy, it's been a 2½-year struggle at my own emotional cost, to push through and push through,'' she said. The allegations stemmed from late 2009, when Dr Veness arrived at her house and presented her with a script for the addictive psychoactive drug Xanax.

The doctor also propositioned her, telling her he had developed feelings and wanted to have a relationship.

In a subsequent phone call he allegedly told her, ''I love you [name], it won't just be sex, it will be the real thing, a relationship''. She was hospitalised several months later after an apparent overdose of alcohol and Xanax.

The tribunal said the psychiatrist's actions fell short of the conduct expected of him.

During the hearing, an expert witness, Michael Diamond, said Dr Veness' actions showed ''predatory, exploitative and self-serving traits''.

But another witness said Dr Diamond's report was ''unbalanced, brutal and lacks compassion''.

Dr Veness has previously held positions with the ACT branch of the Australian Medical Association, and with the local arm of the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatry. But his registration was suspended last year in light of the proceedings against him.

It was not the first time Dr Veness' professional conduct had come under scrutiny. It came to light during a coronial inquiry that he had previously been the subject of a medical board complaint raised by a former lover, psychologist Tania Lioulios.

It was alleged that Dr Veness inappropriately prescribed large amounts of the potentially addictive drug Oxycontin to Ms Lioulios. However, it does not appear that any adverse findings were made against Dr Veness. In 2008 Ms Lioulios took her own life in the back of a Corrective Services van which was taking her from the ACT Magistrates Court to the Belconnen Remand Centre. An inquest into the death excluded the canvassing of any allegations of impropriety in the relationship between the two.

Source: Louis Andrews, "Struck-off psychiatrist revealed," Canberra Times,


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