Leading Vet, Dr. Sue Dyson Struck Off After “Moment of Madness”

Dr Sue Dyson observing a horse being lunged

Leading Vet, Dr. Sue Dyson Struck Off After “Moment of Madness”

Leading Vet, Dr. Sue Dyson, has been struck off after a “moment of madness”.

Last week (9 July), the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) disciplinary committee heard Ms. Dyson admit how she had falsified a letter from the Home Office regarding the licensing of her research.

On 19 December 2018, Ms. Dyson had sent a letter to the Animal Health Trust’s (AHT) Equine Research Group claiming to be a Home Office inspector by the name of Dr. Butler. The letter stated there would be no need for a Home Office licence for Ms Dyson’s research into horse and rider bodyweight ratios.

Former head of clinical orthopaedics at the AHT’s Centre for Equine Studies, Ms. Dyson forged a document in an attempt to show her study into the impact of heavy riders on horses had been approved by the government, when it had not.

The paper, titled “Influence of rider: horse body weight ratios on equine welfare and performance – a pilot study” was initially set to be published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research.

Lack of approval for the paper came to light when Ms. Dyson submitted the paper for peer review. The research project required an ethical licence from the Home Office under the Animals Act 1986, ensuring all research involving animals is regulated. In 2018, when the paper was submitted and colleagues requested evidence of the licence, Ms. Dyson stated it was not required.

Ms Dyson responded to her colleagues concerns stating that a licence was not necessary to carry out her research. She explained she had been informed of this exemption by a “friendly inspector” at the government department. She later added a letter to her research paper from fictional Home Office inspector, Dr. Bulter, which further statedt a “Home Office Licence was not required”.

Following additional enquiries by colleagues to why no licence was required, it came to light that Ms. Dyson had in fact not sought any government approval for her research.

In the letter, Ms. Dyson admitted to writing the letter claiming to be from an inspector for the Home Office. She attributed her misconduct to “a moment of complete madness”.

Ms Dyson further explained;

I had three successive days in my life at this time when I seemed completely out of control of my life and what I was doing. It was a terrifying experience. I could not understand what I was doing and why. I am ashamed beyond belief by what I did and have suffered extreme mental torment as a result.”

In her final disciplinary hearing on 9 July 2021, Ms. Dyson admitted that her behaviour had been dishonest, but she had not intentionally set out to mislead anyone.

The RCVS came to a final decision on 16 July. They stated that despite Ms. Dyson’s “undoubted distinguished international career and reputation”, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was removal from the register.

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