Ex-deputy State pathologist will continue to give evidence

Dr Khalid Jaber had questioned the qualifications of his superior

The former deputy State pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber who unexpectedly resigned from his post has given strong indications to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that he will accede to any request to give evidence in upcoming criminal trials.

He has made clear his intentions to continue to work for the State despite being unhappy about what he sees as the Department of Justice’s failure to act on recent complaints he had made.

At the weekend, it emerged the Saudi-born pathologist had written to the DPP and Royal College of Physicians in Ireland to raise concerns about what he saw as shortcomings in the qualifications of State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, who was his immediate superior.

He pointed out that the 55-year-old Glaswegian did not have certification in forensic pathology, an expertise centred on establishing the cause of death by examining human remains.

Full confidence
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has not released any statement on the controversy but said via a spokesman last night he had full confidence in Prof Cassidy.


Dr Jaber has had a number of difficulties dating back over three years with staff at the Dublin City Mortuary, Cork University Hospital and Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan.

The problems meant that whenever Dr Jaber was the pathologist on call, remains requiring postmortems were moved from those places to other institutions.

Dr Jaber believes he was deliberately isolated by the department and treated in an unacceptable manner by some people with whom he came into contact when working.

He was also unhappy at what he believed was a lack of support when his findings about the death of an alleged homicide victim were recently challenged. The details of that case cannot be disclosed because criminal proceedings are outstanding.

Surprise resignation
It is those differences of opinion that appear to have been most to the fore in the fortnight leading up to his surprise resignation.

He submitted his letter of resignation to Mr Shatter last Thursday and, while he offered to continue in his post into next spring to conclude cases he had already begun working on, his resignation was accepted last Friday with immediate effect.

Justice sources said Dr Jaber (55), who was appointed in 2010, has made it clear he remains committed to giving evidence in trials in the future linked to postmortems he has already completed.

US work visa
In March he had secured the post of chief medical examiner in the US city of El Paso in Texas. However, plans by him to take up the post were derailed when difficulties arose over obtaining a US work visa.

This was despite the county commissioners’ court hiring an immigration lawyer to assist in overcoming the obstacle.

When the matter continued for several months into June of this year, the job offer was withdrawn.

Repeated efforts by The Irish Times to contact Dr Jaber yesterday were not successful, with telephone messages not replied to.

When Prof Cassidy was contacted by The Irish Times by phone yesterday and asked if she had any comment on the controversy, she said: "Not at all. I can make no comment. I know as much as you do about this. I've read about it in the papers."

Asked whether she was surprised her colleague had resigned, she said: “I can make no comment on it at all.”

The Department of Justice said it would not be issuing a statement on the matter. Instead, members of the media were invited to send written questions to the department. Some of the questions sent by The Irish Times were answered while others were not.

A spokeswoman said she did not feel the Minister and department could be accused of trying to conceal facts around the controversy by not being proactive with the release of information.

“Someone has resigned and it’s a sensitive matter and, to an extent, it’s his business,” she said.

In reply to written questions, a spokeswoman added: "The question of finding a replacement for Dr Jaber will be pursued by the Department of Justice and Equality at an early stage and in that regard the Minister considers that a professional and comprehensive pathology service will continue to be delivered".

Asked about the implications for forthcoming trials at which Dr Jaber might have been due to give evidence Mr Shatter’s spokeswoman said the resignation will not prevent the prosecution of criminal cases where medical examinations have been carried out by Dr Jaber in his capacity as deputy State pathologist.

“In this context Dr Jaber can be called as a witness by the prosecution and give evidence before the relevant court.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times