Father-of-two Dr Michael Ross, 44, (pictured outside a tribunal in Manchester) slid his hand under a midwife’s dress as they sat together at a staff party in 2016 telling her: ‘This is what happens at Christmas parties’
A married doctor ran his hand down a midwife’s inner thigh at a staff Christmas party, ‘making her skin crawl’ at thought of being ‘felt up by a disgusting guy’, a tribunal heard.
Father-of-two Dr Michael Ross, 44, slid his hand under the shocked woman’s dress as they sat together, telling her: ‘This is what happens at Christmas parties’.
When the woman, known as Miss A, realised what was happening she fled, calling her husband in distress.
Dr Ross was also accused of groping her leg three months later saying: ‘We have to look after your legs,’ when they were sharing an office together.
Miss A reported him to senior staff at University of Edinburgh Hospital, where he works as a senior clinical lecturer.
His career was left in tatters after a panel at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester found him guilty of sexually motivated conduct.
The tribunal heard he touched Miss A’s back on two other occasions, which she claimed ‘made her skin crawl’.
She said she had been ‘felt up by a disgusting guy’, but he claimed he had ‘accidentally’ placed his hand on her knee and removed it as soon as he noticed.
The Christmas party took place on December 16 2016 just four months after Miss A who has a PhD began helping with staff academic training at the hospital.
After a meal they went to the Hanover Tap pub in Edinburgh where Ross bought sparkling wine and joined Miss A and her colleagues as they sat on cramped benches either side of a table.
In a statement Miss A said: ‘ I then felt Dr Ross’ hand on my thigh. I was wearing a black dress and Doc Martens but it was nothing revealing.
Dr Ross (pictured outside a tribunal hearing in Manchester) works as a senior clinical lecturer at University of Edinburgh Hospital and as a part-time GP in Fife
‘My legs were uncrossed and I remember this because his hand was able to go right up my inner thigh.
‘I could feel his skin through the fabric of my tights. He slid his hand up and down my inner thigh and was stroking under my dress. It was done in a very sexual way and not a friendly way.
‘I remembered I looked at my boss opposite me and just thought I need to get out of this situation.
‘I felt so humiliated and I just thought I can’t tell the woman opposite who’s both mine and his boss that he’s just put his hands up my skirt.
‘I felt frozen and so frustrated and was in a state of shock. I felt humiliated and ashamed and didn’t want anyone to know what happened because I was mortified. I stood up and walked away’.
She added: ‘I am fully aware the effect it could have on his job and career but I don’t want Dr Ross to do this to anybody else. Nobody has ever done that to me before at a Christmas party.
‘I had a discussion with my colleague about the fact that people are normally happy and relaxed at a Christmas party and sometimes people drink too much – but I do not expect that to happen.
Dr Ross is pictured in an undated photo before he was found guilty of sexually motivated conduct
‘I asked my husband to come and get me and I was wandering about and wondering when he was going to get there.
‘I was so muddled by the fact I was shocked by what happened and I wanted to go home.
‘I was waiting for a text message when my husband arrived. It was an upsetting evening. I kept going back from one table to another to check my phone.
‘It was a really stressful evening and I wanted to go home. It was horrific and a bit of a blur.
‘I can remember thinking ‘great, I’ve just been touched by this disgusting guy’. I was absolutely not flirtatious and I certainly did not ask for what happened to me.
Dr Ross (pictured outside a Manchester tribunal hearing) faces a further hearing in July where disciplinary action will be considered
‘I had been having a nice time and I didn’t want to drink too much on the night out as I was going to be picked up by my husband.
‘There is no reason or excuse for somebody to do that. Dr Ross came and spoke to me after and said he was sorry for touching my knee.
‘I just wanted to get away from him as quickly as possible. I was completely and utterly humiliated and I felt violated.
‘He was senior to me and I felt completely humiliated and that I couldn’t say anything.’
Panel chairman Dr Nigel Westwood said: ‘The Tribunal did not find Dr Ross to be a credible witness.
‘His demeanour was polished and, at times, his evidence gave the appearance of having been rehearsed.
‘His credibility in the eyes of the Tribunal was also diminished by the sheer implausibility of some of his evidence.
‘His assertion that he inadvertently rested his hand on the thigh or knee of Miss A and that he did not notice that he had done so for ‘some time’ was improbable – no matter how distracted he was at the time.
‘It is not inherently improbable that a male would attempt to sexually touch a female and do it inconspicuously when there are lots of people around.
‘It is plausible that someone would attempt to behave in that way in a social setting, and that Dr Ross was opportunistic in his approach with Miss A.
‘Dr Ross’s attempt to apologise to Miss A was to assess her response to his touching and to show contrition should her response indicate to him that the contact had been unwelcome.
‘The tribunal found Miss A’s testimony to be very persuasive and believable.’
Charles Garside QC lawyer for the General Medical Council said: ‘There is a power dynamic to the allegation, given the nature of Dr Ross’s assault on Miss A, to whom he was superior.
‘His behaviour, is behaviour that is notoriously likely to be repeated.’
Ross, who is also a part-time GP at the Primrose Lane Medical Centre in Rosyth, Fife, and who plays cittern with a five-piece ceilidh band denied wrongdoing and produced testimonials from other female colleagues which said they were ‘comfortable in his presence.’
In a statement he said: ‘I noticed my left hand was resting on Miss A’s thigh or knee, to my left.
‘My hand was palm down in a natural resting position. As soon as I noticed this, I removed it.
‘My hand was not up her skirt or dress, it was never between her legs, and there was no stroking involved.’
He will face a further hearing in July which will decide what sanction he faces.