THE UK’S medical regulator investigated bogus psychiatrist Zholia Alemi NINE times during her troubled 22 year career, the News & Star can reveal.

Our investigation has uncovered an astonishing litany of formal complaints were lodged against the fraudster, with allegations ranging from inappropriate prescribing, making insensitive comments to patients, and rudeness, to falsifying her CV, illegally detaining patients, and bullying.

She was also investigated for alleged prescription fraud and failing to disclose she was accused of assaulting a police officer.

Despite the scale and severity of the allegations - dating back to 1998 - the strongest sanctions she received until her arrest in 2016 were conditions and a warning. She was suspended only after police in west Cumbria arrested her for fraud and theft.

The failure to heed the repeated alarm bells which sounded throughout her career is bound to cause disquiet among those who fear the professional regulation of doctors in the UK is not robust enough.

A GMC spokesman said: “Since we confirmed that Zholia Alemi gained registration fraudulently in 1995 we have been reviewing all fitness to practise complaints that were raised with us.

“In all we investigated nine complaints during the 23 years that she was on the register, and in the majority of these referrals we took action to address the issues raised.‘From our review it is clear that a concern about Zholia Alemi was raised with us in 1998 when there was a complaint about inappropriate personal comments made by her to a patient.

“This was closed by the GMC but the matter was handled locally - restrictions and supervision were put in place to address the issue.

“In 2004 we received a complaint which culminated in Alemi being given formal advice about the need to demonstrate sensitive communication with families.

‘The next time that concerns were raised about Alemi was in December 2010 – this led to her receiving a warning in 2012.

“From December 2010 until the warning was given in July 2012 we investigated the concerns that had been raised, as well as some new concerns that came to light during the course of that investigation.

“Matters arising from the warning were later referred to a hearing, which took place in 2017 and at which she was found not impaired by a medical practitioner tribunal.” She was given a 12 months suspension following a further tribunal hearing. Alemi avoided suspicion by regularly moving on to new employers, and working in private healthcare.

She helped run such companies, including a marriage guidance service and a medical recruitment firm called Virvo Ltd, which was paid £37,000 by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in 2016/17, according to a Freedom of Information disclosure (available online). Despite that disclosure, a trust spokeswoman said: “Virvo Ltd did not supply the Trust with agency workers.”