A doctor who carried out medical assessments on North-East job seekers would have faced sex assault charges had he still been alive, police have told his victims.
Hundreds of young people were made to strip and submit to intimate medical examination by Dr Gordon Bates during the 70s and 80s.
Dr Bates, who worked from home in Newcastle, carried out medical assessments for a public and private sector companies, including Barclays Bank.
But instead of giving them a general check-up, he ordered them to remove their clothes and carried out unnecessary intimate examinations.
Barclays said last night that it had informed police as soon as the allegations came to light last year.
Dr Bates was not an employee of Barclays. At the time, he was used by a number of other organisations for pre-employment medical assessments which took place at his home surgery in Fenham, Newcastle.
The Northern Echo understands that he also provided services to a Government agency.
Many victims hid their suffering for decades until a police investigation confirmed what they had always known.
Although many originally came from the Tyneside area police say they have been contacted by people from across the region, including County Durham.
Detectives found the medic, who died in 2009, aged 73, made parents wait outside so he could see the young patients alone at his examination rooms.
Northumbria Police interviewed more than 150 people who were sent to the doctor during a three-month investigation. Detectives acknowledge that there may be even more.
Officers have now written to 48 of victims to say that if Dr Bates had still been alive “there would be sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution” for sexual assault.
The others have been told that, while there would not have been enough evidence to prosecute under the law then in force, the doctor’s behaviour could have been seen as professional misconduct and may have been referred to the General Medical Council.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “We can confirm that Northumbria Police received a number of allegations of sexual assault dating back to the 1970s and 1980s, made against a man who is now deceased.
“The allegations related to pre-employment medical examinations carried out on behalf of Barclays Bank.
“All of the allegations have been thoroughly investigated by specialist officers.
“Forty-eight of the allegations have been recorded as criminal acts.
“All of the complainants have been informed of the outcome of the investigation.
“Northumbria Police worked closely with Barclays Bank throughout the enquiry and any further allegations which may come to light will be fully investigated.”
Solicitor Chris Shaw, who is acting for dozens of people sent to the GP, plans to bring legal action against Barclays.
Mr Shaw, whose firm Shaw and Co Solicitors is based in Newcastle, said many victims were still having difficulty coming to terms with what happened. Some have not even told their partners.
He said: “These are otherwise confident, competent people. Most of them have been professionally successful and are now running their own businesses.
“At the time they were just young naive people. If you think back 30 years to how things were then, doctors were absolutely implicitly trusted. They didn’t have the life experience to know this was wrong.”
A spokesman for Barclays said: “Last year Barclays became aware of an allegation about a GP who conducted pre-employment medicals in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“The information was immediately shared with the Northumbria Police, who have investigated the allegations.
“Barclays has done all it can to help the police enquiry and to support employees involved in this sensitive investigation.”
Source – Northern Echo, 10 March 2014