Imperial College Professor of Anatomy Ceri Davies
Power, bullying and lies prevent anatomical education in the UK and Ireland
Ceri Davies (pictured) Professor of Anatomy at Imperial College London has, with the support of the anatomical establishment and Imperial College, lied and bullied his way to stopping anatomical teaching for manual and movement therapists for years, yet has consistently claimed in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and with none of his own, that it is he who is the victim.
In a recent ‘disciplinary hearing’ of the Anatomical Society, I was censured for something that I had said on this website about Ceri Davies. I had said, quite correctly that he had accused me of a criminal offence (which he had) and that he had repeatedly lied, which again he had. Of course Professor Davies denied this, but during the course of the hearing, lied repeatedly on several points, all of which were a matter of record. Once challenged with the evidence of his economy of truth, he admitted to the panel that yes, he had indeed lied. In spite of this embarrassing faux pas as shown in the transcript of the meeting, no censure or comment was made by the panel of his peers in their report and instead I was asked to remove the piece (which in any case had no reference to the Society and which hadn’t been on the site for over a year.)
I of course immediately resigned my student membership (£10pa that had been originally refused for some strange reason) and have been none the worse off for it. That Professor Davies was going to be exonerated and found in favour of, was of course never in doubt and I went through the obvious charade as much for the experience as anything else. It was however shocking to see that in spite of someone lying to their faces and admitting it with no hint of chagrin, they were completely happy to ignore it. They asked for no supporting evidence from Davies for anything he said and instead took at face value whatever lies he trotted out, happily joining up with the bully for the kicking. Pretty shameful stuff. But hey protect your own right?
During this sham of a hearing, Davies continued to peddle the line that I had been prevented from running classes at Imperial College “due to his activities.” The insinuation was that I had done something wrong and that it was his actions that prevented even further damage. He cited a successful class that I had run in Newcastle, praised by the Head of Anatomy, Debra Patten and said that he thought the police had been involved.
This hearing followed the hearing from the Institute of Anatomical Sciences, from which he had resigned as President in 2019, apparently because he claimed I was ‘blackmailing him’. As blackmail is a criminal offence, it was of course libellous but it goes without saying that he presented no evidence to support this. In the world of anatomy, he doesn’t have to. His standing as such is that he can lie and bully whoever he sees fit without compunction, confident that he will be supported by his reputation, his peers and Imperial College, no stranger to bullying scandals themselves. The IAS for whom I had built a website and run it, ran up a series of nonsensical charges against me, even going so far as to rehash an article from the Scottish Sunday Express, saying that I was, through ‘my activities’ (that phrase again) bringing the IAS into disrepute. As a result I was removed from the council after declining to resign and sitting through an online hearing with a similar foregone conclusion. It was the pandemic, so I guess we all needed something to do. The irony was that the then Chair of the IAS, had observed my class in Scotland and was full of praise.
I started running dissection classes at St George’s school of medicine in 2007, where the head of department, Professor Ceri Davies, welcomed me and my delegates on a regular basis. He was at that time also teaching anatomy for Amanda Hermitage, who was operating a business known as Anatomy on Cadavers. Amanda would bring in yoga teachers, physiotherapists, massage therapists and so forth to the dissection lab and pay myself or Ceri to teach certain aspects of anatomy. I also hosted two six day classes there that were taught by Gil Hedley.
When Ceri moved to Imperial College, my classes and those of Mandy Hermitage went with him. I ran classes for several years at Imperial College and was mentored and supervised by Ceri Davies, who I considered a friend. As swell as teaching together and in the same room on many days, we dined together on countless occasions both alone and with colleagues. He was my guest on many occasions at lunches and events such as the Da Vinci exhibition in London. He advised and supported me on certain projects, including approving the photographs for my first book and allowing me lab time for no charge to dissect and photograph.
Throughout this time, he continued to be paid tens of thousands of pounds for his teaching of complementary therapists at Imperial College London, until 2016 when an acutely embarrassing article about him and his class appeared in the Daily Mail. It seems that this was the turning point for this kind of teaching at Imperial College, which was then stopped. What happened for him to start his campaign of lies about me remains a mystery to this day. His claim that I have “been stopped’ from teaching at Imperial College has not been supported by evidence. I have had no letter from Imperial or anyone else saying that I cannot teach there, and if anything have had emails suggesting that this might be possible if the delegates were registered allied health professionals. Once I confirmed this was possible, I simply stopped receiving responses to my emails.
Grown ups communicate. They air their grievances and express themselves honestly, making their point and allowing others to be heard. Or at least in my world they do. I wrote to Ceri on several occasions, begging him to have a conversation with me and apologising for whatever it was that I had done that upset him so much. Apparently the news about the grown up thing hadn’t reached him and I never received a reply. My original post on the nature of his behaviour was met with letters from the legal department at Imperial College that clearly demonstrates he lied to them as well. Letter One. Letter Two
Instead things just went from bad to worse and every door started to close in my face. I can’t prove that Ceri Davies was behind these barriers and he claims that he has never had the “power” to stop my classes. Power however, is defined as the ability to direct or influence another’s behaviour or course of events, and influence he has in spades.
in June 2017 I had been an Honorary Contract with Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (see detailed contract here) and was running my classes there. However in November of the same year, I was given my marching orders, by Dr Ian Scott, the DI and after he had been alerted to my presence by an IAS member from Newcastle. He had originally agreed to be guided by his team, during a most bizarre meeting, which I recorded, where he claimed that what I was teaching was “left field” and that no professional in their right mind would learn anything from me. He also said that he didn’t want “NHS resources wasted on chiropractors and osteopaths who damage people.” This was in spite of the thousands of of pound that my classes paid his trust. This lack of reasoning and strange approach had all the hallmarks of one person making a phone call to the other to shut them down and indeed followed on from a phone to Scott from someone in Newcastle. Scott’s action was of course completely unlawful, but suing the NHS however is not for the faint hearted or those with a budget.
Dr Scott in his actions displayed a deeply unprofessional and wholly unscientific approach and was clearly confused by some of the basic law surrounding the Human Tissue Act, but at least turned up to a face to face meeting, even if it was to lie to me and his team. Ceri Davies has preferred to recruit others to do his dirty work and avoid the confrontation. The next recruit was the Inspector of Anatomy for Scotland, Gordon Findlater who named my St Andrews class in his report in a critical light, whilst ignoring others of an identical nature being run at Dundee. Why had he missed Dundee? Ceri Davies hadn’t told him about it as it was only me who was in his sights.
“What have you done to upset Ceri Davies?” was Findlater’s first question to me when we met. It was a question that several had posed before at St Andrews and other places and was becoming a familiar refrain. Findlater could of course find no fault with my class, which he admitted was very good, but instead raised questions around the fact that I was getting paid for what I did. ‘Making money from cadavers.’ He had seen the income breakdown from my previous classes and knew full well the amounts involved were far from excessive, but he was desperate to find. stick and the money issue was all that was available That this otherwise unremarkable report was then leaked to the Scottish Sunday Express was even more mysterious, but it did the trick. Once again there was no suggestion or claim that I had done anything wrong, just a question left hanging. It was the reason that the IAS chose to remove me from my position on the council and it was unquestionably driven by Ceri Davies
St Andrews had no choice but to cancel my class, in spite of them being delighted with my work and the exemplary behaviour of the international delegates who came each year. One might think that Findlater would have been better focussed the job of protecting donors from appalling behaviour on his patch, rather than settling scores for chums. Sadly what Davies’ said during his communications with Gordon Findlater remain a mystery. Ceri Davies refused to co-operate with a freedom of information request, stating that he was communicating as a private individual, in spite of all his communications coming on Imperial College headings, his emails coming from his Imperial College email address and his address only being given as that of Imperial College. Findlater firmly refused to play ball with any more pressing.
In 2019 a course of mine in Cork was summarily cancelled at short notice, with no reason given, after an inspection from the Inspector of Anatomy for Ireland. Who he you might ask? Ceri Davies was and is the current inspector of anatomy for Ireland. Davies vigorously denies that he shut my class down, saying that it was a decision made by several people, based on Irish law. Needless to say these claims were again both entirely unsupported by either the facts or any evidence. An email obtained by me under the freedom of information act shows the correspondence from Davies to the head of anatomy at Cork, basically telling him to stop the class from going ahead. It comes from him alone and there is no mention of others, nor are there any other signatories. No names of the others involved were offered in support of Davies’ claim, which he repeated to the Anatomical Society. There is nothing in Irish law that prohibited the running of my class and Ceri Davies offered no articles, evidence or documentation to support his claim. It was notable that Davies never declared any conflict of interest in his communication with University College Cork, which considering he had known me for many years and had taught alongside me, was disingenuous at best. Instead his email cast doubt on my integrity and my qualifications, something that he had never been concerned about for the previous fifteen years when I was regularly teaching in his own department, often alongside him.
Whilst lying to one’s peers for no apparent reason might appear a little desperate and unprofessional, this kind of action, supported as it has been by significant elements of the anatomical community, masks a bigger, more pressing ethical issue and places the anatomy sector in a tricky position moving forwards. The decision to ignore someone lying to their faces and find in favour of the person doing it, taken by the oldest anatomical society in the UK, The Anatomical Society puts the sector out of step with both the desire and interest of the public at large who are becoming increasingly interested in the workings of their own body. There is no representation of the enormous complementary sector in the UK of massage therapists, osteopaths chiropractors and so forth, all of whom have a legitimate interest in anatomical study. The attitude is quite clear and open as stated by Dr Ian Scott, “We don’t want those kinds of people in dissection rooms.” It doesn’t matter the interest they have, the respect they show or the work that they do. Dissection and cadavers are ring fenced for ‘medical professionals,’ simply because we know we can kick them out if they misbehave. The idea of instilling enough respect in the donors so that misbehaviour is eliminated has not crossed their minds. Taking a finger home was what they did as med’ students so…
At every single stage of the last seventeen years, my actions in a dissecting room have been beyond reproach. I have never put a step out of line and demand the utmost respect for the donors from everyone who attends my classes. Anyone faculty member from any institution who has attended a class of mine (a rarity) has commented on the deeply respectful manner in which they are conducted and the studious and careful nature of the delegates who attend, as well as the content being made up of things they have often never seen before! I have never had any instance of a delegate behaving badly or an institution censuring me for my work, the standard of my classes or the behaviour of my students. We leave our host institutions spotless and richer and even Ceri Davies’ own lab technician said he would host my class over surgeons every day of the week.
For anyone to therefore even remotely cast a shadow on my integrity and suggest that “my activities” are in any way questionable is the most offensive, unprofessional and deliberately vicious thing imaginable. Ceri Davies knew at every stage that he was lying, that how he represented me was false and that what he was saying was without doubt going to damage my reputation within the UK anatomy sector and beyond. It was calculating and vicious. That this cowardly behaviour has been done with the willing assistance of people who know full well that his remarks are utterly false, is additionally galling.
Anatomy itself is tired and needs an overhaul from top to bottom. See a relevant article here. It has failed to keep up with the functional elements of what the human body is and has spent the last three hundred years skulking in the shadows almost shamed by the work they do, hiding behind dead people and pretending that nothing is wrong. Yet it has a responsibility to step up. It is the framework from which doctors build their careers, the starting point from which success or failure is built, but is taught badly, refuses to see any problems within its own house and goes out of its way to block and object to any innovation, idea or principle which is even slightly outside its anachronistic model.
Ceri Davies is the perfect example of all that is wrong in medicine, anatomy and academia in general. He represents those that sit in judgement behind closed doors, inaccessible and answerable to no-one, even when caught in the headlights of bare faced lies. He and his mostly white, elderly male ilk are and always have been, protected by the cloak that is thrown around them by each other when challenged; a closed shop verging on a seedy boys club. It is this unaccountability that is so distasteful and unacceptable. That it is accompanied by a barrage of breathtaking hypocrisy and double standards is unsurprising. It’s time for it to stop, but it won’t.
All the claims and assertions made above, including the protections offered in writing to Ceri Davies by the legal department of Imperial College are fully supported by documentation and evidence gathered over several years and available on request.