Doctor's hearing postponed again

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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A disciplinary hearing into complaints against Dr. Sean Buckingham has been postponed for a second time, with a new date set for Feb. 17, 2010.

A tribunal was appointed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador and a public hearing was set to begin on April 29. However, on the first day, lawyer Bill Collins intervened to inform the tribunal he had been retained to investigate whether the doctor's application to appeal his criminal conviction could be reactivated based on his long-standing diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

A disciplinary hearing into complaints against Dr. Sean Buckingham has been postponed for a second time, with a new date set for Feb. 17, 2010.

A tribunal was appointed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador and a public hearing was set to begin on April 29. However, on the first day, lawyer Bill Collins intervened to inform the tribunal he had been retained to investigate whether the doctor's application to appeal his criminal conviction could be reactivated based on his long-standing diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Buckingham had previously abandoned his application to appeal his conviction in 2007 on sexual assault and drug trafficking charges. He is serving a sentence in New Brunswick. The college began its disciplinary process after he withdrew his application to appeal, believing the criminal case had concluded.

Collins had explained that the process to reactivate the appeal was complex, but he had hoped to have his work wrapped up by June.

After the six-month postponement, the tribunal chaired by Dr. Andrew Hutton was prepared to begin the hearing Wednesday morning at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John's.

However, lawyer Barry Learmonth, who is representing Buckingham at the disciplinary hearing, informed the tribunal and college of another new development.

He said when the hearing adjourned in April, it was believed the postponement would give Collins ample time to determine if Buckingham's court appeal could be reinstated.

"Unfortunately things did not progress as planned," Learmonth said.

Buckingham has since changed counsel for his criminal case and has retained Toronto lawyer Brian Greenspan to work on the possibility of his appeal being reinstated.

"This has taken me by complete surprise," Learmonth told the tribunal.

He said Buckingham is still incarcerated and in any case would not be perceived as any threat to the public considering he had voluntarily withdrawn from practising medicine.

Andrews said the college is disappointed with this development as it would like to move forward with the case. He asked for another date as close to January 2010 as possible.

Now, the hearing is set for Feb. 17. Hutton said the postponement is granted on two conditions - that Greenspan be notified of the hearing schedule and the college's lawyer be apprised of any further developments.

Learmonth said he will make sure Greenspan is aware of the circumstances and impress upon him the importance of adhering to the hearing schedule, barring some unforeseen circumstance.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: College of Physicians, Doctor's, Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, St. John's Toronto

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