An optometrist who made inappropriate comments about a female athlete’s appearance has received a year-long suspension order.
Stewart Clough, 53, appeared before the General Optical Council’s (GOC) fitness to practise committee after a patient complained about her treatment during an eye test appointment at Value Vision in Manchester in 2015.
Mr Clough allegedly talked about how horse riding had improved the patient’s figure, brushed her hair back and slid his hand down her arm.
After the patient complained to the GOC, Mr Clough looked up her address and offered her compensation to drop the case.
The decision by the GOC fitness to practise committee emphasised: "The committee had no hesitation making a finding of misconduct ... The registrant's actions were serious and fell well below the standards expected of a registered optometrist."
Mr Clough's fitness to practise as an optometrist was also found to be impaired in the decision.
The committee noted that the optometrist’s conduct had brought the profession into disrepute, adding "a finding of current impairment was appropriate in order to declare and uphold the reputation of the profession and otherwise maintain those standards."
The decision concluded that Mr Clough's conduct would be sanctioned through a suspension order.
The fitness to practise committee added: "Furthermore to reflect the seriousness with which it views the registrant's misconduct, and in particular the preparation and delivery of a letter inviting her to withdraw the complaint, it decided that the misconduct should be marked by the maximum order available, namely a 12-month suspension order."
A spokesperson for the Association of Optometrists’ legal team emphasised: “In our experience of providing legal representation for the optical profession, cases of this type, where inappropriate behaviour takes place in an optical practice, are thankfully extremely rare.”