29 Oct 2014

Immigration investigating US doctor

7:36 pm on 29 October 2014

An American doctor who fled a sex charge in the United States to work in New Zealand and Australia is having his file investigated by Immigration New Zealand.

Britain's Guardian newspaper reported Max Mehta fled a child sex predator charge in the US and moved to New Zealand before relocating to Australia. He arrived in New Zealand on a visitor visa in January 2005 before being issued a work visa as a radiologist and being approved residence in September 2005.

He changed his name by deed poll to Robert Taylor in 2007.

When Mr Taylor arrived in New Zealand he worked in Canterbury and then Gisborne as a radiologist.

He then moved to Australia and continued his work as a tele-radiologist for Gisborne's Tairawhiti District Health Board. He has been physically based in Australia but has maintained his registration here.

Medical Council of New Zealand chairman Andrew Connolly said background checks were run on Mr Taylor before he was granted permission to work in New Zealand.

The checks found nothing to suggest he was a risk, or any information about an impending court case against him.

Mr Connolly said the disappointing aspect of the case was the flaws discovered in the checking systems. Even today, council staff could not find anything relating to Mr Taylor's former identity that would suggest criminal behaviour.

"We can't find anything even today that in 2004 he was wanted in the state of Texas," he said.

Good lawyer

Mr Connolly said Mr Taylor was charged in 2004 and between six and 12 months later applied to come to New Zealand.

The Texas state licensing board was unaware Mr Taylor was arrested in Texas and issued him a certificate of good standing, before he was allowed to work as a radiologist in New Zealand.

Mr Connolly said Mr Taylor could have had a lawyer who argued strongly for name suppression, and that could be why Texas medical authorities did not know about the charge.

"I have no doubt that had he been actually convicted, the Texas state board would've had him struck off long before [he] had any opportunity to emigrate," he said.

"I can only surmise he must of had a bloody good lawyer right back on day one that managed to get it completely and utterly sealed. And then obviously he absconded."

Mr Taylor is not allowed to practice medicine in New Zealand until US justice actions have been resolved.

Mr Connolly said no complaints have been received from New Zealand patients or members of the public about Mr Taylor.

"The key thing is we have no evidence that any member of the public or patients have come to harm but we don't want to take any risk.

"We're here to protect the public, and having competent doctors who do not have criminal aspects to their behaviour or concerns about criminal aspects of their behaviour is crucial."