The disclosure of material to the General Medical Council (“the GMC”) by other agencies, including the Police, has an important role to play in the exercise of the GMC’s public interest functions as they relate to a Doctor’s fitness to practice. Section 35A of the Medical Act 1983 grants a specific power to the GMC to require the disclosure of information which appears relevant to the discharge of these functions.
The leading case in relation to the duties of the Police, when a request for disclosure is received from a regulatory body, such as the GMC, remains the decision of the Court of Appeal in Woolgar v Chief Constable of Sussex Police  1 WLR 25.
The issue in R (Nakash v Metropolitan Police Service (“MPS”) and GMC  EWHC 3810 (Admin), in which Judgment was given by Cox J on 17 November 2014, was whether, as the Claimant Doctor contended, the Administrative Court should prohibit the disclosure by the MPS of material requested by the GMC, on the basis that it was unlawfully obtained by the police, in breach of the Claimant’s ECHR Article 8 rights; that it included material of a highly personal and confidential nature; and that the material had no relevance to the issue of the Claimant’s fitness to practise as a medical practitioner.
Cox J concluded that the decision by the MPS to disclose the material requested by the GMC was in error. They had failed to carry out the “careful balancing exercise of competing interests” required by Article 8. Relevance of the material is obviously an important factor. So too, however, is the personal and confidential nature of the material requested.
At paragraph 46, Cox J said:-
“… Since the primary decision as to disclosure will be made in these cases by the police, it is important that before the decision to disclose is made, there is a rational assessment of the relevant competing interests and that consideration is given, in each case, to the extent of the interference, and whether the disclosure sought is in accordance with the law and is a proportionate response to a legitimate aim …”
The MPS’s decision having been found to have been flawed, Cox J proceeded to carry out the balancing exercise herself, and found that disclosure by the MPS to the GMC was justified, under Article 8(2), notwithstanding the circumstances in which the MPS had obtained the material and the interference with the Doctor’s Article 8(1) rights.