Raj Persaud at Humber Mouth, 30 June 2007.
13 May 1963 |
TV and radio presenter
Rajendra Persaud (Hindi: राजेन्द्र परसौद), also known as Raj Persaud (Hindi: राज परसौद), born 13 May 1963, in Reading, Berkshire is an English consultant psychiatrist, broadcaster and author of popular books about psychiatry.
He is the son of Trinidad-born author Dr. Lakshmi Persaud and Professor Bishnodat Persaud. He is well known for raising public awareness of psychiatric and mental health issues in the general media. He has published five popular books and has received numerous awards.
On 16 June 2008 Persaud admitted to inadequately acknowledging articles mentioned in his book From The Edge of the Couch, but denied deliberate plagiarism when he faced the General Medical Council's "fitness to practise panel". Passages of Professor Richard Bentall's work had been copied without quotation marks or other adequate reference on the corresponding pages of one of Persaud's popular books, although Persaud had obtained the author's permission to include the material.
On 19 June 2008 he was found guilty of dishonesty and bringing the profession into disrepute by the GMC, but it was accepted that there was no financial incentive at work. On the following day it was announced by the GMC that his fitness to practise was impaired and he was suspended from practising for three months.
Persaud was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School and at University College London, where he read for his degrees in medicine and psychology. His first year at UCL was marred by failure after he was forced to re-sit the examinations in anatomy, which he attributed later to availing himself too freely of the other educational opportunities there. He told the British Medical Journal that this left him "traumatised" and he compensated by virtually taking up residence in the college library, eventually achieving at least three degrees, four diplomas and a membership examination, including:
BSc Psychology (Hons), 1983
Diploma in the History of Medicine of the Society of Apothecaries, 1988
Diploma in Health Economics, 1994
MSc Social Research Methods and Statistics (City University London), 1995
He was a psychiatric trainee at the Bethlem Royal Hospital and Maudsley Hospital in London, a research scholar and post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the USA in 1990 and a research worker at the Institute of Neurology at UCL. In 2000 he was awarded a UCL Fellowship, and in 2005 he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He is also a Fellow of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries.
Persaud resigned from his position as consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in October 2008, following a 3-month suspension by the General Medical Council for dishonesty. He is a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of London and has a Visiting Professor role at Gresham College for Public Understanding of Psychiatry. In 2002 he was voted one of the top ten psychiatrists in the UK by a survey of the Institute of Psychiatry and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, published in the Independent on Sunday newspaper.
Persaud regularly appeared on radio and TV programmes, as either interviewee or presenter and was resident psychiatrist on the well-known daytime television programme This Morning. In addition to writing regularly for The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, Persaud also had columns in the Times Educational Supplement, Cosmopolitan and Canary Wharf City Life magazine. He is a former presenter of the BBC Radio 4 psychology and psychiatry programme All in the Mind. He was a presenter for Travels of the Mind for BBC World Service.
Persaud has appeared on numerous talk shows such as Richard and Judy and Good Morning with Anne and Nick, promoting psychiatric treatments for mental health related issues. With the general practitioner Mark Porter, he co-presented the live medical talk and phone-in TV programme Doctor, Doctor on Channel Five.
He has written several books, including his guide to romance, Simply Irresistible: The Psychology of Seduction – How to Catch and Keep your Perfect Partner. In 2007, he was the consulting editor of a book produced by The Royal College of Psychiatrists called The Mind: A User's Guide.
Persaud's media work has earned him a mixed reception. Francis Wheen, then a Guardian columnist, claimed he is "paid a lot of money for stating the obvious". In contrast, the comedian, GP and columnist Dr. Phil Hammond applauded Persaud for his populist appeal. Hammond stated Persaud is a "good media communicator" for the psychiatric industry, albeit lacking the sophistication of the late Anthony Clare.
Persaud has worked extensively in the NGO sector. He is a patron of OCD-UK, a British charity for people affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He also works with ActionAid and recently visited Bangladesh with the charity.
In 2005 Persaud was accused of plagiarism. Thomas Blass, professor of psychology and proponent of the psychiatric Milgram Test at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, alleged that a large proportion of Persaud's article in Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry (Volume 9, Issue 2) had been extracted without correct reference, from Blass's original work on Stanley Milgram's 1963 "compliance" experiments, as had an earlier article in the Times Educational Supplement.
Persaud claimed this had been due to an editing rather than a typographical error and offered to apologise for not crediting Blass. Persaud had invited Blass to introduce Blass's work on Stanley Milgram to a wider audience through Radio 4's "All in the Mind" programme which Persaud hosted and the interview was broadcast on 30 November 2004.
An article about Scientology's relationship with psychiatry in The Independent of 30 June 2005 was found to have used arguments from discussions of a publication of the Canadian Professor Stephen A. Kent without total and complete attribution. The newspaper blamed a "production error" and altered the article in its web archives to properly attribute it to Kent.
In December 2005, it was announced that two of his articles would be retracted from the British Medical Journal and Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry publications, while his work was reviewed by a panel from the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London.
Following a report by Brian Deer in The Sunday Times, in April 2006, the College decided that the allegations against Persaud "were of a nature which could be addressed at 'departmental level' (i.e. Institute of Psychiatry) without the need to initiate a formal inquiry." Later that month, Persaud resigned as presenter of the BBC Radio 4 programme All in the Mind because of the ongoing controversy, but returned temporarily in 2007.
In December 2007, the same issues of alleged plagiarism were brought to the attention of the General Medical Council by a group affiliated to the Scientology movement, who have a noted anti-psychiatry position concerning the work of Professor Richard Bentall, who had published an anti-psychiatry book. Bentall told the GMC tribunal that he was "flabbergasted" at the blatancy of Persaud's deceit, which, he told the GMC panel, had come to his attention in a phone call from Brian Deer. However, Bentall noted that Persaud had asked his permission to quote his work, which he had given and Bentall had been sent a copy of the book.
At the hearing in June 2008, Persaud admitted to inadequately acknowledging four articles for his book From The Edge of the Couch, but denied that his actions brought his profession into disrepute. The book attempts to popularise 100 famous cases in psychiatry. Persaud appeared before the GMC from 16 June, where Dr. Anthony Morgan, chair of the GMC Fitness to Practise panel told Persaud:
"You are an eminent psychiatrist with a distinguished academic record who has combined a clinical career as a consultant psychiatrist with work in the media and journalism. The panel is of the view that you must have known that your actions in allowing the work of others to be seen as though it was your own would be considered dishonest by ordinary people. The panel has therefore determined that your actions were dishonest in accordance with the accepted definition of dishonesty in these proceedings. The panel has determined that your actions, in plagiarising the work of others, were liable to bring the profession into disrepute."
Persaud was found guilty of bringing the profession into disrepute on 19 June. On 20 June, the GMC came to the conclusion that Dr Persaud's "fitness to practise is impaired," and he was suspended from practising for three months.
It emerged in the judgement that the matter was brought to the attention of the GMC by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, an organisation founded by senior members of the Scientology movement.
In summing up, the Chairman of the GMC Panel, Dr. Anthony Morgan, explained that in deciding on the length of the suspension, the panel took into account that there had been no patient harm, that his plagiarism was not financially motivated, that it did not relate to research fraud and that it was unlikely to be repeated.
In a statement issued through the Medical Protection Society, Dr. Persaud said: "I am saddened by the findings and decision of the GMC, which relates to material published in 2004 and 2005. These matters have been under investigation since 2005."
"As I said during the hearing, I accept that my use of the work of some authors lacked adequate acknowledgement. I have apologised repeatedly for this during the hearing and I apologise for this now. I am saddened that this occurred while I was seeking to promote the work of academics to the wider public. I am grateful for the support of so many colleagues, patients and members of the public who have contacted the GMC and myself to offer their support to me at this difficult time. Mental illness and psychological problems are much misunderstood, but extremely common predicaments which still require energetic efforts to de-stigmatise. I hope to be allowed to continue with this work in the future."
Other allegations of plagiarism
In the 11 July 2008 edition of Private Eye, it was revealed that in addition to alleged plagiarism which Persaud attributed to a "cutting and pasting" error in a book he published in 2003 and another instance of plagiarism in 2005 which he blamed on the sub-editors at the Times Educational Supplement, in 1995 Persaud had allegedly lifted many instances of phrases, observations and statistics from a book on prostitution by Sheron Boyle for a piece he wrote for the Daily Mail. Private Eye has also alleged that Persaud made unacknowledged and ill-informed changes to chapters written by other psychiatrists for a book he was editing, causing at least one of them to threaten to withdraw from the project.
- Fellow of University College London, 2000
- Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2004
- Tony Thistlethwaite Award Commendation for Excellence (Medical Journalists' Association), 2005
- Morris Markow Prize (Royal College of Psychiatrists), 2005
- Staying Sane: How to Make your Mind Work for You. September 1997 (Metro). ISBN 1-900512-38-6
- From the Edge of the Couch. March 2003 (Bantam Press). ISBN 0-553-81346-3 (Book containing plagiarised material)
- The Motivated Mind. March 2005 (Bantam Press). ISBN 0-553-81345-5
- Simply Irresistible: The Psychology of Seduction – How to Catch and Keep Your Perfect Partner. January 2007 (Bantam Press). ISBN 0-593-05588-8
- The Mind: A User's Guide. July 2007 (Bantam Press). ISBN 0-593-05635-3
- List of Visiting Gresham Professors
- "Media doctor found guilty of plagiarism". NRI doctors. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2008.
- "Media doctor guilty of disrepute". BBC. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
- "Media doctor hit with suspension". BBC News. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- BBC Radio 4 6pm news bulletin
- "Professor Raj Persaud: Visiting Gresham Professor of Psychiatry". Gresham College. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
- Persaud, Raj (2002). "Ten books". British Journal of Psychiatry 181 (3): 258–261. doi:10.1192/bjp.181.3.258.
- The Medical Directory 2006/07 2 (162 ed.). London: Informa Healthcare. 2006. pp. 2627–8.
- James Sturcke and Martin Wainwright, "Disgraced Raj Persaud quits as consultant at leading hospital", The Guardian, 24 October 2008
- "A few deaths may be the price we'll have to pay for saving resources". The Independent (London). Retrieved 18 June 2008.[dead link]
- "King of the media shrink pack?". British Medical Journal. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
- Pidd, Helen (28 December 2005). "TV psychiatrist's bosses investigate plagiarism claims". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- "Raj Persaud: A dangerous war on psychiatry". London: The Independent. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- "Persaud told to withdraw book in plagiarism row". The Sunday Times (reprint). 16 April 2006. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- "Statement regarding Dr Raj Persaud". King's College London. Retrieved 18 June 2008.
- "Plagiarism row dogs radio doctor". BBC NEWS. 3 April 2006. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- "All in the Mind". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- Pidd, Helen (4 December 2007). "Psychiatrist to face plagiarism charges at GMC hearing". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Wainwright, Martin (18 June 2008). "Persaud's blatant cribs were flabbergasting, professor tells tribunal". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 18 June 2008.
- "Media doctor admits to plagiarism". BBC NEWS. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
- Batty, David (16 June 2008). "Raj Persaud: TV psychiatrist admits plagiarism". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Wainwright, Martin (17 June 2008). "Media psychiatrist fights for his job". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- "Media doctor guilty of disrepute". BBC. 19 June 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2008.
- "Media doctor hit with suspension". BBC News. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Jenkins, Russell (21 June 2008). "TV psychiatrist Raj Persaud suspended for plagiarism". London: The Times. Retrieved 21 June 2008.
- Jenkins, Russell (21 June 2008). "TV psychiatrist Raj Persaud suspended for plagiarism". The Times (London). Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "First Daze of the Raj" in Private Eye no 1214, 11–24 July 2008, p25
- rajpersaud.com, Personal website
- Transworld publishers' website
- Royal College of Psychiatrists book website
- Guardian news story about plagiarism
- Letter from a BMJ editor about plagiarism by Persaud
- Profile on NursinginPractice.com
- Raj Persaud talks to ..., Podcasts
- Video of his recent visit to Bangladesh with Action Aid.
- More on his recent visit to Bangladesh with Action Aid.
- Guardian opinion piece on Persaud