June 2022

Freeman Hospital scientist who accessed nearly 7,000 child abuse images banned from profession

A former Freeman Hospital scientist has been banned from his profession after downloading nearly 7,000 images of child abuse.

31-year-old Biomedical scientist Alexander Paton had worked at the hospital until he was suspended in August 2020, after he was charged with three offences of making indecent images.

Yet despite the charges set against him, Paton failed to tell his regulatory body about the investigation or his suspension from work.

In November 2020 Paton, at the time of Rosewood Close, North Shields, was handed a 10-month suspended sentence.

Police discovered that there had been 97,231 searches for indecent images made by Paton

Last month he was brought before a tribunal and was struck off the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register.

The tribunal panel heard that Paton, who was 31 at the time of his sentencing, had been under police investigation since 2018.

Officers had seized three laptops from his home, on which they found Category A, B and Category C child sexual abuse images.

The images involved children under ten years old, some aged between six and eight.

The tribunal heard Paton had been accessing the illegal images as far back as 2012.

He was charged in July 2020, and the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust launched an investigation in August after he told his bosses about the police probe.

Paton told a laboratory manager investigating him that he knew he needed to tell the regulatory body about his arrest, but hadn’t done so, saying: “I am just struggling to deal with everything at the moment”.

On August 11, Paton was suspended from work at the hospital. At a further meeting on August 19 he was asked if he’d told the HCPC yet, but he said: “No – I was waiting to see what the outcome of the case was.”

The panel imposed a ‘striking off order’. The ruling means Paton will no longer be able to work as a biomedical scientist in hospitals.