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Wife of consultant suspended for storing information about his secretary speaks for first time of his ruinous 'infatuation'


There are few more respected callings than that of a consultant surgeon. Hans Desmarowitz was routinely stopped in the streets by grateful patients, helped by his skill and dedication.

So few could believe it when, last month, the General Medical Council suspended the 49-year-old after he was found to have been secretly collecting and storing personal information about his young secretary at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

His obsession had led him to hack into her confidential medical records and even ask private investigators to 'check her out'.    

Yet today, in her first interview on the humiliating episode that threatened to break their marriage, the surgeon's glamorous wife, Sim, mounts a fierce defence of her husband, declaring: 'I want the world to know I don't think what he did was so bad.'

Evidence presented to a disciplinary committee revealed that as well as exchanging flirtatious text messages behind the closed door of his NHS office, Desmarowitz was compiling an electronic dossier about his secretary Rachael Parkyn, a former model from Torquay.

Colleagues, patients and his family were shocked by the revelations, and by the news that investigators had found thousands of pornographic but legal pictures on the German-born doctor's hospital computer.

It has been a ruinous episode all round. With no money coming in, the children's nanny was sent away, plans for private schooling were scrapped and the six-bedroom family home in the Cornish countryside sold.

After three years of study, Sim, 39, whose dark good looks betray a mixed Iranian and Mediterranean heritage, can no longer afford her place at medical school.

It would be easy for her to hate her husband. Yet she takes his side with an almost angry determination.

Desmarowitz is, she says, a victim of circumstance as well as his own stupidity a naive, repressed man whose protected upbringing and lack of social skills left him vulnerable to the predatory sexuality of a good-looking colleague.

She blames herself, insisting she must share the responsibility for their rocky marriage, and claiming the episode has brought the two of them to their senses after years of arguments.

And she also blames the other woman. There may have been no physical affair both parties denied it absolutely but in Sim's eyes Rachael Parkyn conducted a flirtation of such relentlessness that her husband's head was turned.

'I don't for a minute condone what he did, getting hold of private details and keeping them on the computer, and I think the GMC's punishment is justified,' she says. 'But in my mind he has been punished enough. Now I have come to terms with it, I don't find forgiving him hard to do.

'Things could not have gone on the way they were. We were in real trouble as a couple. Now we have a chance to rebuild.'

And this gets to the heart of it. Yes, there was a big salary, a property portfolio and a brood of children but, as she now accepts, their modern marriage was also utterly impractical.

Sim Lawrence she uses her maiden name was already responsible for six children from two previous marriages when, in 2000, she met Hans in London. They married the same year.

Sim Lawrence and Hans Desmarowitz

New beginning: Lawrence says revelations about her husband's obsession has given the couple a fresh start

In 2001, with their new baby Joshua and three of Sim's older children in tow, they moved from London to Cornwall, where Hans had been appointed a vascular specialist at the Royal Cornwall in Treliske.

At this stage, life seemed good. The family held together even when Sim decided to realise her own ambitions and begin studying for a medical degree. A succession of nannies was recruited to help with the children.

It was when Sim became pregnant with another child, however, that the balancing act became unstable. She was catching a 5.40am train to her studies in Plymouth. Hans was rarely at home and suddenly Sim was at her wits' end.

'I was very stressed. I would get upset and shout and scream at Hans,' she admits. 'I tried to stay calm, but I found it hard when I couldn't communicate. My husband is German. He's naturally a very controlled person and he would struggle with my outbursts.

'Often I asked him to leave and he would go to his office. He was also a workaholic. He never took holidays as he felt this would be letting down the patients.'

It is a wonder, then, that he had time for the flirtation with Ms Parkyn, the slender party-lover who had worked with him for the previous five years.

Sim, certainly, had no idea which way his thoughts were turning, even though by now she was close at hand. The third year of her medical degree had brought her to the Royal Cornwall and she had built up a friendship with her husband's secretary.

'She's a beautiful woman,' she says. 'She's slim and well-spoken. Perhaps I was stupid but I didn't suspect anything. I was blind to it.'

The 'bombshell', as she puts it, finally exploded in September 2006, when Sim asked her husband if she could use his work computer. Accidentally opening his email, she was confronted with hundreds of suggestive messages phone texts between her husband and Ms Parkyn that he had sent using his computer.

'I read a few, immediately thought they were having an affair and freaked out,' she says. 'I rang my husband. He tried to calm me down, but couldn't.

'I marched in to confront Rachael but she wasn't there so I rang her and told her it was a sackable offence to have an affair. I was distraught.'

This was just the start of the drama. Ms Parkyn's response was to open Desmarowitz's private computer records, whereupon she made an unpleasant discovery: files of information about her, her friends and family. She complained to hospital bosses and his computer was seized.

Officials established that he had accessed confidential patient records. They also found a photo of Rachael, a file labelled 'tactics on how to win her over', a map showing a nightclub she frequented, and letters to a firm of private detectives asking them to investigate her. Desmarowitz thought better of this plan.

If Sim is full of forgiveness for her husband, she cannot extend the same spirit of generosity to Rachael.

'I don't "hate" her at all,' she says, 'but she behaved very badly. Reading through the text messages, you can see how much she is flirting.

'She showed my husband photos of her with wedding dresses on, saying, "I've got the dress, just need someone to marry." Hans was infatuated.

'She used to say she only came into work to flirt. She once told me how she would deliberately burst into his office while he was changing out of his cycling gear. She didn't seem to give a damn. She told me she'd love the lifestyle of a consultant's wife.'

By contrast, it was a lifestyle Sim hated; one that didn't fit with her young-at-heart persona (she reveals she is also a singer, currently making a rock album with Sugababes producer Gareth Young). 'I probably think of myself as an artist. A bit of a rebel,' she says. 'I didn't fit the role. It made me feel old.'

Rebel or not, it might seem hard to justify Desmarowitz's interest in private detectives. Once again, Sim believes her husband's nationality is a mitigating factor.

'He didn't mean any harm by it,' she says. 'Hans is German. He likes knowing what he is getting into. But he realised what he was doing was wrong and came to his senses.

'People call him a stalker but he wasn't a stalker. If he had been, the police would have been involved. They weren't. He just collected information on her. That's the behaviour of an infatuated man, not a lunatic.'

Sim is also relaxed about the pornography found on her husband's computer. 'In Germany it is more acceptable to view naked women,' she says. 'He never looked at them in work time only at night when I had kicked him out of the house.'

Despite requests, Rachael Parkyn, understood to be aged 30, has declined to give her side of the story.

For his part, Desmarowitz has been advised by the GMC who have suspended him for three months to make no further comment.

Sim, however, claims her marriage is now stronger. 'What Hans did was wrong, but love is love.

'He screwed up and he lost his job. I want the world to know I don't think what he did was so bad. It is time to move on.'

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