DISGRACED surgeon Richard Neale will escape prosecution after a second major police investigation into a catalogue of allegations against him.

After advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, senior officers have decided there will be no action against him "at this time".

But the decision has outraged former patients of the obstetrician and gynaecologist, who say they may take legal action of their own.

Graham Maloney, the group's advisor, said: "We are bitterly disappointed. The group will be meeting to see how they feel, and possibly start looking at private prosecutions."

Mr Neale, 60, who lives near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, was struck off seven years ago after he botched a series of operations, lied to patients and altered records.

It followed a long campaign by former patients, and 34 out of 35 specimen counts of serious professional misconduct were found proven by the General Medical Council.

At the same time, a police investigation was under way, which ended in 2001 when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised detectives that there were no grounds for prosecution.

After an outcry from former patients, who said the inquiry had been inadequate and alleged that Mr Neale had not been interviewed, a second investigation was launched in July 2004 into his treatment of patients in North Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight.

As part of the new inquiry, police investigated, among other issues, the circumstances surrounding the death of 47-year-old Joyce Blackbird, from Leeming, North Yorkshire, who died at the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, in 1991 after an operation carried out by Mr Neale.

It also looked into the case of baby Daniel Carver, who died aged only two days after the surgeon attended as the on-call consultant at the delivery.

CPS lawyer Howard Cohen said: "I considered whether the evidence gathered by the police showed that any criminal offence had been committed, taking into account a number of possible offences, including assault, health and safety offences and the offence of gross negligence manslaughter in relation to the two deaths.

"I also considered the offences of obtaining property by deception and obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception in relation to allegations that Richard Neale had given false information about his qualifications and his career history to the hospitals where he worked."

He said he had decided there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction to prosecute Mr Neale for any criminal offence.

He said: "I have considered whether Richard Neale should be charged with manslaughter by way of gross negligence following the deaths of Joyce Blackbird and Daniel Carver and have considered a number of medical reports from experts regarding their deaths.

"I have concluded that the prosecution would not be able to prove that Mr Neale breached his duty of care towards either of them."

The second police investigation involved contacting more than 300 members of the Action and Support Group for Victims of Richard Neale. A total of 145 replied and all responses were investigated. Among them was former model Sheila Wright-Hogeland, of Kirkbymoorside, who was left in pain after botched surgery.

A letter to her from the CPS explaining the decision not to prosecute said it "would not be in the public interest owing to the delay in bringing the case". However, Mr Maloney said yesterday: "The delay was because the first investigation was inadequate, and to say it is not in the public interest is totally unacceptable.

"Hundreds of women were involved and two major police investigations took place. To say it is not in the public interest is farcical."