Surgeon gets speeding ban overturned so she can continue working

Eye surgeon, 74, who was clocked doing 27mph in 20mph zone has six month driving ban overturned after telling Old Bailey judge she needs her car to drive 200 mile round trip to work

  • Eye surgeon Mahboub Hawkes, 74, was caught doing 27mph in a 20mph zone 
  • The offence saw her tot up 12 penalty points on her licence and an automatic ban
  • She appealed to return her licence citing the impact it was having on her career
  • She said she would have to give up work if she was forced on public transport 

A top eye surgeon saw her driving ban overturned after she convinced an Old Bailey judge she cannot do her job without a car.

Mahboub Hawkes, 74, was clocked doing 27mph in a 20mph zone in her Jaguar XJ saloon near Monument, central London on September 3, last year.

Ms Hawkes was disqualified from driving for six months and fined £660 after she totted up 12 points on her licence.

Mahboub Hawkes, 74, was clocked doing 27mph in a 20mph zone in her Jaguar XJ saloon near Monument, central London on September 3, last year. She has successfully overturned a driving ban due to the effect it has on her ability to work

Ms Hawkes, who lives in Essex, says it takes her three hours a day to travel to Kings Lynn where she sees 50 patients a week. She said public transport was impossible and she was paying £200 a day for a driver to take her to and from the hospital

The Harley Street surgeon, who trained at UCLA, California and Moorfields Eye Hospital, was travelling back from Blackpool Victoria Hospital, at the time of the offence.

Now working at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, she specialises in cataract surgery, oculoplastic surgery and macular degeneration.

It takes her up to three hours to travel to Kings Lynn and she said ‘public transport was absolutely impossible’.

She treats nearly 50 patients a week and completed 475 surgeries between May and October last year.

From October she began working at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn who had a backlog of eye patients after the previous surgeon left due to illness.

The court heard how some patients had been waiting two and half years for surgery, as the hospital struggled to find a replacement as skilled as Ms Hawkes.

While disqualified Ms Hawkes had been paying a private driver £200 a day to take her to and from work.

She told the court how she would have to resign if she could not get her licence back and abandon the hundreds of patients who are waiting for her surgery.

Ms Hawkes said: ‘This is the job that I chose and I know I can help a lot of people, but the hiccup has produced a lot of havoc for me and my family and my patients.

‘I make that journey for nearly seven months. I do it four days a week.

‘It takes 2 hours 45 minutes to get there on a good day, but I did that because I could come back home and be at home with my family because my daughter is not very well.

‘None of them [the other surgeons] live around the hospital.

Ms Hawkes told hospital management in Norfolk that she would resign her post as the 200-mile round trip to the hospital was not possible on public transport

‘Maximum they drive about half an hour, 20 minutes and they whinge all day. Nobody drives like me and my distance.

‘I operate from the morning to the evening, sometimes until seven o’clock in the evening.’

Ms Hawkes told the court how she would have to get up at 4.45am to take three trains and two taxis to work if she took public transport.

She said: ‘Really that’s not great if you’re going to have a surgery of 10 to 12 patients a day.

‘You need a free mind of stress and worries. You should be in a very good frame of mind when you’re operating.

‘Public transport was absolutely impossible in my brain.

‘Uber is £175 one way. Two ways is going to be over £300.

‘It’s very expensive to start with and I don’t make that much money.

‘I find that a lot of money to pay for just getting there so I can’t go to King’s Lynn.’

Ms Hawkes, who lives in Romford, Essex, told the court that the problem would not be solved if she got another job.

She said: ‘It wouldn’t be in London, still I’ll have to drive.

‘There’s no way I can get something in High Street Kensington where I can get a taxi for 20 minutes – it’s not going to happen.’

She said: ‘I’m not trying to deny what I’ve done but I would like to say the day I got this it was five hours I was driving from Blackpool.

‘It was only 27 miles per hour on the road.

‘I’m very sorry I know I have done something bad, you do the crime and you do the time.

‘I appreciate you’ve got boxes to tick but we’re not in the box, we’re outside the box.

‘I’ve done this [job] for 30 years in this country, for all patients, doctors, lawyers, I’m not usually a person to break the law of the land.

‘I was the only car in that road. I didn’t harm anyone, I didn’t have an accident, I wasn’t outside a school.’

She added: ‘I’m not the only person and I’m not the best person but I’m the only person in King’s Lynn who can do this [job].

‘Because it’s not a teaching hospital you don’t get a lot of surgeons there – I’m talking about the complicated surgery which not everyone can do.

‘I handed in my resignation – I could give one week’s notice to leave – but they said please don’t leave.’

Ms Hawkes’ barrister Fred Batstone said: ‘The essence of the application is on the crucial function of the hospital and the patients awaiting eye surgery.

‘You can see the type of person that she is, the devotion and commitment to her profession.

‘They have been trying for the past year and two months [to find another surgeon].

‘Even when she retired they asked ‘Can you just finish your list?’

‘The only viable option was this private driver and you can see the massive expense this costs.

‘Because she is so devoted she could get another job – it would likely also be outside London.

‘The people who have a letter with their surgery date on will have to be cancelled. There’s no telling when that would be.

‘She’s in a very precarious position.

‘It’s really these patients and this hospital who will be so affected – the innocent parties.’

Allowing Ms Hawkes’ appeal against the driving disqualification Judge Sarah Munro, QC, sitting with two magistrates, said: ‘We are persuaded solely on the basis of your employment and the effects on your patients that this is a case of exceptional hardship.

‘The consequence of that is that she will remain someone who has 12 points on her licence.

‘Should you make an offence again you will undoubtedly be disqualified.’

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