Professor Stephen Hawking nurse accused of 'misconduct'

Stephen Hawking Image copyright BBC/Richard Ansett
Image caption Stephen Hawking died in March last year

Stephen Hawking's former nurse has been suspended and is facing a misconduct allegation over his care.

Patricia Dowdy, 61, who worked for the renowned scientist for 15 years, was handed an interim suspension in 2016.

A six-week Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) hearing, which began in February and is due to last until 21 March, is being held behind closed doors in London.

Mrs Dowdy told The Mail on Sunday she was upset and did not want to comment.

Prof Hawking died at his home in Cambridge in March last year aged 76 having lived with motor neurone disease for more than 50 years.

The alleged misconduct by Mrs Dowdy, from Ipswich in Suffolk, took place in Cambridge, according to the NMC's register of hearings.

Director of fitness to practise at the nursing watchdog, Matthew McClelland, said its legislation and guidance was "very clear that hearings will usually take place in public".

But he said that "in some cases, including this particular case, there are reasons why this may not always happen".

This could be "due to the health of those involved in the case, or that the allegations are related to a health condition of the nurse or midwife", he added.

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Media captionA look back at the life of famous scientist Stephen Hawking

Prof Hawking, who was known as one of the world's finest scientific minds, was diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease in 1964 at the age of 22 and was given just a few years to live.

But he continued to travel the world giving lectures and writing scientific papers about the basic laws that govern the universe.

Prof Hawking explained the Big Bang and black holes in his best-selling book A Brief History Of Time - which has sold more than 10 million copies.

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