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The Mirror (London, England), 23 November 1998

A MAN who was branded a paedophile by a top doctor broke his silence last night to tell of his 13 years of hell.

Eddie Hernon, 59, says he was falsely accused of abusing his daughter by Dr Maura Woods.

"I've been destroyed, trampled on and stripped of all my humanity," he said last night.

Dr Woods has denied charges of professional misconduct

His case - one of five before an Irish Medical Council inquiry against Dr Woods - is, he says, the chance he has been waiting for to clear his name.

The former builder says allegations made against him when his now teenaged daughter was just five are not true.

Now he is ready to take on the system that branded him and other men sex beasts.

Mr Hernon, from Dublin, says he will prove his innocence when he gives evidence to a Fitness to Practice Committee in two weeks.

""I will fight this to the bitter end to the last extremity, however calamitous." he said.

""I have been stigmatised as a pervert, a sick paedophile and an incestuous monster, yet I have never even so much as laid a hand on my daughter and never would.

"If it sends me to the grave I will get back my dignity and prove my innocence."

Mr Hernon sparked a national scandal when he complained to the Irish Medical Council in March 1992 about Dr Woods, the former head of the Rotunda Hospital's sexual assault unit.He says she wrongly branded him a paedophile after examining his daughter 13 years ago.

Three years later, and after four other parents came forward with similar claims, the Fitness to Practice Committee ruled there was enough evidence against the doctor for a full inquiry.

Dr Woods has been suspended for the past two years while officials investigated claims involving 17 children.

Now Mr Hernon, a father of six who sees his 18-year-old daughter every day despite being separated from her mother, is determined to get justice.

He said: ""I have been to hell and back over the years. I have come up against brick walls all over the place trying to clear my name. Now I finally have my chance.

""It has been a long 13 years with this accusation hanging over me, but I intend to get my dignity back.

""I have never been convicted for the crime it is alleged I committed and I have never been investigated by the Gardai. I am an innocent man.""

When Mr Hernon found out about the allegations against him he was "dumbfounded .

"No words can express what I felt,"" he said. ""It was like a bombshell dropping on me. I couldn't believe what these people were saying.

Details of meetings and legal proceedings that followed Dr Woods' accusations will be given in evidence at the inquiry.

Mr Hernon said: ""It's six years since I filed my complaint. "But I haven't lost any of my fight. I will prove my innocence, and I feel the same way as the other four families involved in this.

""We will be lifting the finger of conviction from ourselves for the first time in years.

"My partner has always believed in my innocence as has my daughter, so thankfully I have had no problems seeing her.

"She's a regular teenager, always looking for 20 quid off her dad to go out.

"It makes me sick to think I was accused of sexually abusing her."

Mr Hernon will be the first of the five parents to tell the committee his side of the story.

Four other parents, three of whom were accused a year after him and one six years after him by Dr Woods, will follow.