Infertility expert Simon Fishel has lost his legal battle with Nottingham University to keep £400,000 he made from working in embryology clinics abroad. The High Court found Dr Fishel liable for making a profit from treatment he carried out using university embryologists. He was also found liable for breach of contract with the university, where he was head of the fertility clinic from 1991 until 1997.
Dr Fishel had strongly contested the claim and argued that he was not performing outside work but was inventing, testing or improving techniques as part of his research functions. He claimed that the fact he was paid for the work, which was carried out in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Italy and South Africa, was irrelevant.
But the court ruled that the profits, which could be calculated from the sums received by Dr Fishel for work done by the embryologists less the amount he paid them, should be repaid to Nottingham University. However, the judge found Dr Fishel's trips did not prejudice the university clinic or lead to a reduction in the number of its patients, so there was no award for damages.
Dr Fishel said afterwards that Nottingham University had spent £750,000 of public money - 'enough to pay the tuition fees of 700 students' - in pursuing the case.