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A Cape Town doctor accused of faking his credentials to get a job on a cruise liner says he did nothing wrong and left the job because the work did not suit him.
Paul Fitzgerald – who previously went by the name Maurice Saadien-Raad, was previously found guilty of a string of other misdemeanours and is under investigation by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) – arrived back in Cape Town last week.
Gordon Leighton, a cruise line recruiter, said it had been found Fitzgerald had fraudulently created his own references and was forced to leave Miami, where he would have worked. But in an SMS response to the Cape Times, Fitzgerald denied he had forged documents.
His SMS said: “I had worked for the company 13 years ago. I did not have a signed contract on my departure to USA and the credentialing process was still ongoing, usually completed prior to departing. Being 64 years old, I knew immediately after one day on board ship I had made the wrong decision.
“The offer of returning home was the right decision for me.”
During a phone conversation with Fitzgerald three days ago, he again denied wrongdoing and repeatedly asked why people appeared to be out to get him.
Fitzgerald had previously worked in the UK, where his medical licence was suspended last year because, among other reasons, of inappropriate behaviour and borrowing thousands of pounds from a person suffering from psychiatric problems, who a UK panel found he had threatened to kill.
During the phone conversation, Fitzgerald denied his actions had been inappropriate and said a friend had lent him the money.
Last week, HPCSA chief executive officer and registrar Buyiswa Majamba-Matshoba listed six offences from 1982 to 2008 Fitzgerald had been found guilty of in SA.
But during the phone call, Fitzgerald said he had an explanation for each of the offences. He said a constant focus on the negative aspects of his career meant he was unlikely to find work again.
Fitzgerald said he was poor, with only bread and water to eat and drink, and at times thought he would be better off dead.
He was hesitant about being interviewed face to face and after asking personal details about this reporter, including her age, where she lived and if she worked alone, he said he wanted to be interviewed after 6 or 7pm and wanted only this reporter to be present.
When informed that news editors had to be told about possible interviews and movements of reporters while on duty, Fitzgerald sounded agitated and asked why.
The Cape Times declined to interview him face to face under his conditions.