IT was a case that divided many, and finally came to a conclusion last Friday.

County surgeon Simon Bramhall has been fined £10,000 and given a 12-month community order after he wrote his initials on the livers of two patients without their consent and for no clinical reason while working as a liver transplant surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Prosecutors said Bramhall boasted to a colleague “this is what I do” with the judge describing it as “professional arrogance that strayed into criminal behaviour”.

Yet hundreds of patients have jumped to his defence, calling him a compassionate man who made a mistake.

Worcester antiques dealer Jeff Hughes told this newspaper that he hoped Bramhall had signed his liver when he saved his life, while Barbara Moss pointed out that the character of the man should not be determined on this mistake.

She has helped start a Justgiving group to raise £10,000 – not to pay his fine, but to instead donate the money to Bramhall’s chosen charity the British Liver Trust, and in process show support for a man “who has saved the lives of hundreds”.

There can be no defence for burning his initials on to the livers of patients without consent. You are vulnerable when you have your body open for surgery. It is undoubtedly a betrayal of trust when a surgeon is basically messing around, and you have no power. In court, one of the victims said they had suffered minor physical injury and psychological harm after what happened and that can’t be ignored.

Just because there was no lasting harm done – the marks wouldn’t have affected the performance of the liver and they would disappear in time - it still doesn’t excuse the behaviour.

However, I do believe in second chances, and it is difficult to ignore the excellent work Bramhall did in saving the lives of so many. I can’t agree that the case should have been dropped, as some have argued, but by all accounts Bramhall was a very respected surgeon so to lose his expertise completely also doesn’t seem correct. Bramhall will now rightly serve his punishment and it was right this case was brought to court and highlighted. At the end of the day patient-surgeon trust would be lost completely if these cases aren’t heard, and victims don’t get justice.