Paul Fielding, the British embryologist who was convicted last month of three counts of assault and eight counts of false accounting, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by a Southampton court earlier this week.
The charges were brought against the Basingstoke, Hampshire-based embryologist after allegations that he had deceived women undergoing IVF treatment at two clinics where he was employed, by injecting a saline solution into their uteruses instead of their thawed embryos. He received a £50 fee for each procedure. An audit of the clinics showed that 39 embryos were still being stored that had supposedly been implanted into women having IVF treatment. Another 47, supposed to be in storage, were missing.
The court found that, during his three-year period of employment, Fielding had falsified a number of his records but no successful embryo implantations had occurred during that time. He was also found guilty of assault, as the women involved because the women involved had not consented to the medical procedures that they underwent.
While sentencing Fielding, Judge John Boggis said 'you have betrayed the blind trust of these vulnerable women. Your crimes were despicable. It would have been bad enough if your behaviour had been the result of incompetence, but it was dishonesty that motivated you'. More than 80 couples treated at the clinics are taking legal action for compensation after the discovery that embryos were missing, had been wrongly labelled, or had never been thawed.