JAMES Rice said he is ‘utterly devastated’ to be struck off as a paramedic but vowed to take his fight to the High Court.

He told how is life has been ‘destroyed’ by the Health Professions Council’s (HPC) decision and how he will battle to get his livelihood back.

He said: “I’m thoroughly and utterly disgusted with the system and my only comeback now is to go to the High Court, which could take months and months – it’s unlikely to be before Christmas.

“In the meantime I have been prevented from working, I can no longer earn an income. I have got to fight this by myself because for me to take a barrister to High Court is going to cost between £15,000 and £30,000.

“They have taken my livelihood and career and they have destroyed my life.

“Anyone that knows me – and there are thousands of people who know me – knows what type of person I am and I live to work. I’m utterly devastated.”

The former paramedic also volunteers as a helmsman with the Lyme Regis RNLI and is a standard bearer for the Lyme Regis branch of the Royal British Legion.

“All I want to do is go back to work and save people’s lives as I do as a lifeboatman and as a paramedic – that is all I have ever done,” he said.

“I have never had anything to hide – the only thing I have done is tell the truth.”

He said the ordeal has meant he has not been able to grieve for his colleague, who died after taking the drugs.

“They (the HPC panel) said that they feel I haven’t grasped the seriousness of the allegations,” he said. “I have lost a friend and a colleague but I haven’t been able to grieve at all for my mate,” he said.

He maintains he gave his colleague the diamorphine for safe disposal at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, where the colleague worked as a nurse and paramedic.

“I took a large quantity of drugs to him to dispose of for me,” he said.

“If I was going to take an illegal substance to someone for their personal use, why on earth would I incriminate myself and other people by leaving my name on the packet?

“Eighteen months before, I had explained the system of my disposal to the British Ambulance Association, who said it was a safe method to get him to dispose of them for me.”

The former paramedic has emphasised that he was found not guilty in a crown court of supplying a quantity of diamorphine.

He added: “I was totally acquitted 18 months ago at the crown court of any wrongdoing and I then I had to go this panel for this hearing, so effectively I have been tried twice for the same thing.

“I feel that I did not have a fair hearing because the panel did not listen to the actual information that I gave them or that my barrister gave them.

“I fully intend to write to my MP, the registrar and the secretary of state for health.”