Addiction Specialist Struck Off After Toga Party Drugs Death

A psychiatrist who hosted a wild Roman toga party where a guest died from a drugs overdose was struck off yesterday. A GMC disciplinary panel decided that Dr Clint Tatchell’s “extensive and wide-ranging misconduct” made him incompatible with being a doctor.

Mr Tatchell, a psychiatrist specialising in addiction, found accountant David Steel, 30, dead in his bed and then hurriedly tidied his luxury Glasgow flat before police arrived.

Detectives later discovered Mr Steel had also taken a lethal drugs cocktail including ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and diazepam tablets during a party in September 2003.

Mr Tatchell, who worked for Greater Glasgow NHS, prescribed a drunken flatmate, Brian Hoolichan, 28 diazepam tablets and drove another friend to collect the sedative.

The GMC heard how gay friends of the 37-year-old doctor had posed in togas during a drink and drugs orgy at his canal-side apartment in Port Dundas, Glasgow.

The party had been in full swing for more than 24 hours when one of the guests first discovered Mr Steel – a former Mr Gay Glasgow and Mr Gay Scotland runner up – lying dead in the doctor’s bed.

In his verdict, GMC chair- man Ralph Bergmann said of Mr Tatchell: “He has repeatedly and persistently lied to the police and then to the panel and his misconduct has been reprehensible and without remorse.”

The GMC had found that Mr Tatchell acted dishonestly in a number of ways: by cleaning his flat after discovering Mr Steel dead; by fabricating medical notes to make it look like he had a genuine consultation with Mr Hoolichan; and by telling the police the valium was in a locked cupboard when the jar of pills was found on his bedside table.

Mr Tatchell also acted dishonestly by fabricating notes of a consultation with Mr Hoolichan after his first police interview on September 21, 2003 and a second interview on December 16, 2003.

Ordering his striking off, Mr Bergmann said: “A recurrent theme in this case has been Dr Tatchell’s lack of probity; his dishonesty has been persistent and covered up. He has demonstrated serious departures from the relevant professional standards, and has abused his position as a doctor.

“The panel concluded that this conduct, together with his persistent lack of insight into the seriousness and consequences of his actions, renders Dr Tatchell fundamentally incompatible with his remaining a registered medical practitioner.”

Mr Tatchell did not attend yesterday’s hearing after telling the GMC he had taken ill. However, he asked the panel by phone not to make his erasure immediate for the sake of his patients. Mr Bergmann said the panel could not accede to his request due to his access to controlled drugs.

Mr Tatchell will have to wait five years before he can apply for registration with the GMC.

Mr Tatchell, 37, a flamboyant figure, and Mr Steel, 30, were part of a group of professional young men who were very active in Glasgow’s large, and uninhibited gay clubbing scene, where they mixed drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy with GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) and ketamine, a horse tranquiliser.

For years Mr Tatchell, who is South African, seemed either unaware or unconcerned about the conflict arising from being both an addiction specialist and a heavy user of recreational drugs. He managed to separate his private and professional lives – until they collided the day Mr Steel overdosed in September 2003.

Mr Tatchell and Mr Steel had met in a gay nightclub in Glasgow. Over the following months they became close friends.
Mr Steel’s death came at the end of a marathon party which began when he met Mr Tatchell and his friends in the Polo Lounge, a gay nightclub in Glasgow’s Merchant City , on Friday September 19, 2003.

When the club closed, the group moved from flat to flat in the city, seeking out parties, before everyone settled at Mr Tatchell’s home in Speirs Wharf, where an orgy of drug taking, drinking, dancing continued throughout Saturday.

At some point on the Saturday afternoon, Mr Steel took the dose of ecstasy that 11 hours later killed him. Around the same time he consumed a quantity of cocaine and heroin and one or two diazepam tablets prescribed by Mr Tatchell, who helped Mr Steel to bed before falling asleep himself.

In the aftermath of Mr Steel’s death Mr Tatchell began an attempt to cover his tracks.

Then in January 2004, at a gathering to celebrate Mr Steel’s life, his best friend from childhood, Dr Jason McClure, argued and fell out with mr Tatchell. Dr McClure reported Mr Tatchell to the GMC.

It may not be over yet for Mr Tatchell. Evidence that he misled the police heard during his disciplinary hearing may give rise to a criminal investigation.