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Victims of disgraced Harley Street dentist call for ‘outrageous’ legal loophole to be closed as they launch battle for compensation

Victims of a disgraced Harley Street dentist who was kicked out of the profession for a catalogue of botched procedures have launched a legal bid for compensation.

Fraser Pearce, 51, was left with a pierced sinus from faulty dental work by Dr Shahram Sahba, while Helen Pitt, 55, had £10,000 of veneers fitted in a negligent attempt to fix a receding gum line.

Dr Sahba, who ran the Lister House Dental Clinic in London’s famous medical district, was struck off last year after his professional regulator found him guilty of more than 400 charges of misconduct, negligence, and dishonesty.


A first attempt by his patients to sue for damages was blocked, as the disgraced dentist had left England and his insurers had no obligation to pay out when their client was not co-operating.

Fraser Pearce 

Mr Pearce and Ms Pitt, represented by law firm Devonshires, are now using the Consumer Credit Act to bring fresh legal action, to get money back via the credit card transactions used to pay for the botched procedures.

William Collins, a specialist medical negligence lawyer from Devonshires, called situation “outrageous” and called for the government to close the legal loophole.

Mr Pearce, a business consultant from Sandwich, Kent, needed an operation to try to repair his sinus after work by Dr Sabha, and also discovered the dentist had applied a crown to a perfectly health tooth.

“I felt physically violated”, he said. “I was really angry as I felt like he had breached the relationship between a doctor and his patient.”

Helen Pitt (Submitted)

Ms Pitt, who was treated by Dr Sahba for six years, may need to have her veneers replaced every ten years. She said: “I was so angry as I would never have had them fitted if I’d known that was the case.”

She added: “Dentists are in a position to do serious damage to their patients, so how can it be that dentists are allowed to have insurance that is discretionary and does not protect patients?”

Dr Sahba, who ran his practice just off Harley Street between 2009 and 2015, did not return from Sweden for a General Dental Council disciplinary hearing last year, when he struck off the professional register.

As well as botched procedures, he was found to have charged patients for work they did not receive and also lied about his qualifications.

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After Meat Workers Die of Covid-19, Families Fight for Compensation

After Saul Sanchez tested positive for the coronavirus at a hospital in Greeley, Colo., he spoke to his daughter on the phone and asked her to relay a message to his supervisors at work.

“Please call JBS and let them know I’m in the hospital,” his daughter Beatriz Rangel remembered him as saying. “Let them know I will be back.”

The meat-processing company JBS had employed Mr. Sanchez, 78, at its plant in Greeley for three decades. He was one of at least 291 people there who tested positive for the coronavirus, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

On April 7, Mr. Sanchez became one of at least six employees at the plant to die of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. “My dad was a very hardworking, happy-go-lucky, selfless person,” Ms. Rangel said. “It’s a great loss.”

Now Ms. Rangel, 53, is in the middle of a new struggle. Hers is one of several families of JBS employees in Greeley seeking compensation for a death caused by Covid-19. The company has denied her family’s claim, as well as at least two others, according to lawyers representing the families who are now taking those claims to court.

Those denials, first reported by Reuters, offered a view of the difficulties faced by families of essential workers who have fallen ill or died because of the coronavirus, many of whom are struggling to cover medical or funeral costs.

“We just have a stack of bills, and I think it’s really taken a toll on my mom, because my dad used to be the one handling all the finances,” Ms. Rangel said.

Across the United States, more than 100 meat-processing plants operated by different companies, including Smithfield and Tyson, have had outbreaks of Covid-19, in part because of crowded working conditions. So far, more than 44,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, and more than 200 have died, according to the Food & Environment Report Network, which has been tracking the outbreak.

Workers’ compensation has traditionally been used to address on-the-job injuries — not fatalities tied to a pandemic that has disrupted millions of lives and killed more than 200,000 people in the United States. Tracing the exact origins of individual infections can be difficult, which appears to have given JBS an avenue to deny compensation claims on the grounds that the illnesses were not necessarily work related.

“It is my understanding that JBS was stating that the workers didn’t contract Covid at the plant,” said Kim Cordova, the president of the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that represents many JBS employees.

“I think that it’s just further proof that these companies put profit over people, and that they have treated these poor essential workers as disposable or sacrificial human beings for the sake of production or profit,” she added.

Nikki Richardson, a spokeswoman for JBS USA, said in an email that “the worker’s compensation claim denials were