Alleged fraudster denies forging medical degree certificate
Zholia Alemi said she qualified with a medical degree in New Zealand in 1992.
A woman has denied forging a degree certificate in order to practise as a doctor.
Giving evidence in her trial at Manchester Crown Court on Monday, Zholia Alemi said she qualified with a medical degree in New Zealand in 1992.
She told the court she did not forge documents which she sent to the General Medical Council (GMC) in 1995 with the aim of becoming registered as a doctor.
The court has heard Alemi, who denies 20 offences including forgery and fraud, worked as a psychiatrist for health trusts across the UK over a period of about 20 years.
She told the jury she was born in Iran in 1967, although the court heard two alternative dates of birth were recorded on different documents, including her passport.
She claimed she left her home country, divorcing her husband, after she and her family were tortured following the Iranian revolution.
Alemi said she still had scars from the physical torture she suffered.
She said: “They used my son, who was an infant, to show me how they can torture. I didn’t talk and I didn’t give any names.”
She said she graduated from the University of Tehran in 1987 with a BSc in biology and, after leaving the country, attended the University of Auckland where she completed a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery degree course, a qualification which all doctors must hold.
She denied failing her exams during the six-year course.
The prosecution allege Alemi completed a degree in Bachelor of Human Biology in New Zealand but, after failing a number of years, in 1994 she was stopped from re-enrolling at the university to complete the more advanced course.
Alemi said: “I never have received any communication that says I am not allowed to enrol in university.”
The court has heard Alemi moved to the UK and in 1995 sent a degree certificate and letter of verification apparently from the University of Auckland to the GMC.
Asked if she forged the degree certificate, Alemi said: “No, I didn’t.”
Asked about mistakes in the letter, which spelt verify as “varify” and referred to “six years medical trainee with satisfactory grade”, Alemi said: “I don’t think that this letter could have been produced by somebody who has got even just a bachelor degree in any subject from Auckland university.
“Auckland university is English-speaking, you cannot pass your exams not knowing English and this letter, to me, it’s very unusual.”
The court heard she went on to do training in Northern Ireland, where she was awarded a diploma in mental health by Queens University, Belfast, in July 1998, and qualified for membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Francis FitzGibbon KC, defending, asked whether it would have been possible for her to achieve those qualifications without a medical degree.
Alemi said: “No, it’s impossible.”
Asked whether she had been diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder, Alemi said: “I don’t see my high functioning autism as a disorder.”
The jury was told Alemi had been convicted in October 2018 following a trial at Carlisle Crown Court of three fraud offences.
The court heard she had forged a will to make herself the beneficiary and forged signatures on applications to hold powers of attorney.
Alemi, of Plumbe Street, Burnley, denies 13 counts of fraud, three counts of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, two counts of forgery and two counts of using a false instrument.