Chris Stables and Charlotte Atherton successfully prosecute ‘fake doctor’ over forgery and fraud offences costing the NHS in excess of £1 million

February 20, 2023

Chris Stables and Charlotte Atherton from Exchange Chambers have successfully prosecuted a bogus doctor who forged medical qualifications and letters of verification, allegedly from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and used the forged documents fraudulently to secure registration with the GMC as a doctor able to work in the UK.  The defendant subsequently secured positions across the UK as a hospital psychiatrist.

Zholia Alemi was convicted by the jury of 2 counts of forgery, 2 counts of using a false instrument, and 16 specimen counts of fraud representing the entirety of her career earnings.  The trial concluded with the guilty verdicts at Manchester Crown Court (Crown Square) on 15th February 2023.

Over a period in excess of twenty years, Alemi worked as an NHS psychiatrist in hospitals throughout England and Wales, fraudulently receiving income and benefits exceeding £1m.  A conservative estimate as to the extent of her fraud was put by the prosecution at £1.3m.  In truth, she had never achieved the foundation medical degree of MBChB, and had been rejected by the University having failed the necessary examinations.

The investigation was conducted by Cumbria Police who secured the necessary evidence as to the absence of her qualifications from the University of Auckland.  During the 6 week trial, the evidence of witnesses from the University was given by live video-link from New Zealand.  Highly incriminating documents and items were recovered from a house owned by the defendant in Northern Ireland.  In addition, expert evidence was called to establish the fraudulent nature of the documents sent to the GMC in order to achieve entry onto the medical register.

Janice Wild of the CPS Serious Fraud Division said: “Alemi used forged New Zealand medical qualifications to obtain employment as a UK NHS psychiatrist, and to operate for 20 years. In doing so, she ‘treated’ hundreds of vulnerable patients when she was entirely unqualified to do so, potentially putting them at risk.”

Following the guilty verdicts in the case, the trial judge described the defendant’s offences as “a wicked deception”, and said that Alemi now faces a jail term “of some substantial length”.  The defendant will be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on 28th February 2023.

Following sentence, the prosecution will pursue confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, in an effort to seize the defendant’s assets and to recoup as much of the losses suffered by the NHS as possible.