Scottish doctor arrested after expletive-ridden drunken row with wife over TV remote

The hearing took place at the GMC in Manchester. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.
The hearing took place at the GMC in Manchester. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.
Share this article
Have your say

A senior doctor was arrested and spent the night in police cells after he and his estranged wife got embroiled in a drunken foul mouthed tussle over their TV remote control, a medical tribunal heard.

Robert Ballantyne, 51, grabbed his spouse Lynette, a former nurse, and addressed her by the 'C-word' when he flew into a rage due to her watching television in their lounge, it was claimed.

During the argument Ballantyne who had earlier been sat in the living room in his boxer shorts drinking wine shouted: ''It's my TV!'' whereupon his wife threw the remote device out of their front door.

She then started to make her way out of the house only for Ballantyne to follow and grab her with both hands on her shoulder and pulled her backwards as they wrestled on the doorstep of their house, it was alleged. She was said to have told him: ''I will f****** destroy you and leave you with nothing - no friends.''

Mrs Ballantyne eventually managed to flee the house after a neighbour offered to call police and went to stay with her sister.

Her former GP husband, a Speciality Doctor in Clinical Genetics, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, was subsequently arrested but police proceedings against him were dropped.

He voluntarily referred himself to the General Medical Council and moved out of the house after she changed the locks.

READ MORE: Bill making coercive control illegal a landmark moment

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service was told the warring couple had bought the property in 1998 then spit up in November 2016 amid allegations of infidelity. But they decided to live under the same roof until their divorce was finalised.

Initially a 50:50 split was agreed on their joint assets but Mrs Ballantyne said she wanted the house - arguing the doctor had been unfaithful to her and claiming he had installed bugging devices and cameras around the property to spy on her movements.

The hearing was told the pair had a series of rows in 2017 culminating in the incident at 2pm on October 6 of that year. Mrs Ballantyne - who was known only as Mrs A at the tribunal - had gone for a shower and was found watching TV by her estranged husband when she came downstairs.

Miss Chloe Hudson lawyer for the General Medical Council told the Manchester hearing: ''Dr Ballantyne had earlier been sitting in the living room drinking wine and watching TV and there was an allegation that he called his wife a 'c***.' She picked up the TV remote threw it out the front door but when he followed her to the door, he grabbed her with both hands on her shoulder and pulled her backwards.

''She was shouting for help and trying to get help from a neighbour who then offered to telephone the police. Mrs A said it was her impression on that afternoon that Dr Ballantyne was very drunk and become verbally abusive.

''He was annoyed with her for watching TV and told her it was his TV. She describes tussling between the two of them around the front door and of going to seek assistance from a neighbour. She then went back into the house took some belongings and went to her sisters.

''She told her about the incident involving the remote control and being grabbed by the neck from behind and pulled inside the house. Police became involved and attended at her sisters home. She then returned home and had the locks changed to the property.

''Mrs A was contacted by the GMC in August 2018 but was initially reluctant to get involved saying she wanted to assist them as a former nurse - but was worried and scared of the repercussions.

''The doctor says this was verbal argument between himself and his wife and claims she said to him that she would: 'f****** destroy you, leave you with nothing and no friends.' He said invented the allegation of assault for reasons to try get back at him.''

Mrs Ballantyne told the hearing: ''I had indicated that I wanted the house and wanted him out of the house. The reason I wanted him out was because of the cameras and bugs that he had placed around the house and because of his affairs and I had nowhere else to go. I wanted him out so that I felt secure. I was up front at the start and wanted to settle everything and he agreed at the start but then changed the goal posts.''

Recalling the incident she said: ''He was drinking wine in the living room and I had never heard that word come out of his mouth. He knows I hate the word. I have never heard him use it before in my life. I don’t know where it came from struck me as out of the ordinary.

''The argument started when I was watching TV. I didn’t know my husband was in the house - he hadn’t been in the house for three weeks and I came downstairs after a shower and went into the living and he was sitting there in his boxer shorts drinking wine.

''We didn’t speak and I went upstairs to pack my bag and then I came back and started watching TV because he wasn’t there. That's when the argument started. We had been arguing for a bit and everything just got caught up in everything. It felt like an awfully long time - maybe 30 to 40 seconds and I was bruised.

''When we were in the threshold of the living room and hall door he was very angry and abusive. He threw his arm around my neck in a lock and was hitting me and he started tussling with me. It was mainly on my arms more than once and it was just out of control. I just wanted to get away from him - if you had been there you would have seen it was frenzied and did grab me from behind and punched me a few times.

''I think the worst part of it was when he opened the door and he threw me out. We have five very steep steps at the door if I had fallen I don’t know what would have happened to me but I managed to grab the gold bar before I went down the steps. The frightening part of it was the unexpectedness of it - I believed that he jumped on my back.

''I had never seen this behaviour before it was very shocking to me. I was very distressed and my sister and I went to the police station. The officers later came round to tell me that they had been to the house and asked him for the keys and he wouldn’t give them - he was extremely drunk and they took him to the cells.

''He locked me out of the house and changed the locks which against the law apparently and I didn’t have a key to get back in. When he was in the cells, he wouldn’t give the police a key.''

The hearing was told Mrs Ballantyne had previously warned her husband she would go to his work and create a scene during a row over her car keys.

She said: ''My car keys had gone missing and nobody was in the house. I phoned him at work asked him and he said he didn’t know. I again phoned him and left a message saying: 'you'd better give me the keys and if you don’t I’m going to come to your work and tell them what you’re like.'

''But it was only a threat and of course I’m not going to do it. I would never do anything to hurt his career. It was a heat of the moment thing I would never have done that. I had always promised and said I would never ever get him into trouble with the GMC I have stuck to that I have never brought this to where it is.

''He is a very good doctor but I was upset with him and I wanted my keys and he wasn’t getting back to tell me where they where and I couldn’t think of any other way. I thought I would get through to him and ask him about the keys when he didn’t answers I left him a message about it.

''I was angry very angry about it and I would have had to go to my doctors without the car. I realised it was the wrong thing to do but because he hardly ever spoke to me when he was in the house, trying to have a conversation with him was very difficult. I thought the only thing to do was to say to him something that would urge him to get in touch with me.

Ballantyne of Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, denies misconduct. The hearing continues.