Exposé lands in legal quagmire

April 12, 2001

Two Sheffield University students could face criminal charges after using fake CVs as part of their investigation into alleged race discrimination at Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

They may be charged with fraud, although one of them has been told to expect a summons for wasting police time.

A spokeswoman for the South Yorkshire police confirmed that a complaint about bogus application forms was being investigating but would not comment further.

The investigation into allegations of race discrimination at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, the university's teaching hospital, was published in Steel Press , Sheffield's award-winning student newspaper.

A medical student working for the paper invented two characters, with identical CVs but names that suggested different ethnic origins, to apply for senior house officer posts. One CV purported to come from a David Smith, the other from a Sanjay Sharma.

The "white" candidate, Dr Smith, was apparently more successful than the ethnic minority applicant, Dr Sharma.

The paper said this suggests discrimination and has called for an investigation. It passed its documents on to the Commission for Racial Equality.

Faisal Yafai, Steel Press features editor, confirmed this week that he had been interviewed by the police. "I think it is outrageous that the medical school has taken such an aggressive stance. The investigation was a legitimate journalistic endeavour," he said.

The student who made the false job applications, who asked to remain anonymous, refused to accept a police caution for the offence. He was then informed that he would be reported for it.

A hospital spokesman defended the inconsistencies in the reaction to the applicants, claiming that there had been differences in their work experience.

A spokesman for the National Health Service trust confirmed that it had approached the police, but said that the fraud had been spotted before the student journalists approached the hospital for comment on their research.

He said: "After consultation with the General Medical Council, we were advised to contact the police. It was only later that we were informed about the involvement of the student paper. As investigations continue, it is inappropriate to comment further."

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