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GPs cleared of misconduct by the GMC could have their case referred to the High Court by the new super-regulator, the appeal court has ruled.

The decision came after a GP challenged a High Court ruling in April to allow the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence to challenge GMC decisions it felt were 'unduly lenient'.

In their appeal, Dr Giuseppe Ruscillo's lawyers argued the regulator could challenge penalties imposed by the GMC, but not verdicts of not guilty.

But Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips said this view was 'something of a nonsense' and went against Parliament's intention in setting up the organisation.

Dr Ruscillo, a GP in Lancaster, admitted having an affair with a patient but the GMC concluded in October 2003 this did not amount to serious professional misconduct. His case could now be heard by the High Court if the CHRE chooses to proceed.

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