A social worker found guilty of misconduct after admitting God had told him to give cash to a vulnerable mother to visit a Nigerian ‘prophet’ has been cautioned by a General Social Care Council committee.
The decision to allow Paul Collett, 45, to continue practising, with a two-year admonishment on his GSCC record, took into account a 20-year unblemished career and his expressions of remorse.
Collett, 45, had admitted writing to the woman, known as Ms A, whose five children had been taken into care, telling her she “needed a miracle, probably several” and enclosing a cheque for £500 that she could use to visit the Prophet TB Joshua.
The letter, sent in July 2007, included details of the prophet’s website, which advertises miracle cures for cancer.
Eight months earlier, he had acted as a guardian for her children, all of whom were eventually placed with adoptive parents or foster carers.
“She was texting me, emailing me saying help me,” said Collett, adding: “Her plight was playing on my mind.”
The social worker also admitted video-recording an interview with a girl, known as Child R, breaching a court order. He said he had not known the order had applied to him and he had sought legal advice beforehand.
Believed child was at risk
Collett, who was working in an area known as locality A to protect the identities of the children involved, had carried out the interview because he believed Child R was at risk.
She had made a number of disclosures of sexual abuse by her father but evidence gathered by agencies, which had included an audio recording by Child R’s mother, had gone missing or been damaged.
He had carried out the interview on 10 May 2006, two days after Child R had been removed from the child protection register at a meeting to which he was not invited.
Collett said he had “lost it” while working in locality A, describing it as a “lawless state” where professionals working with children would say they were “making it up as we go along”. He said he believed children were at risk as a result of poor practices.
The presenting officer for the GSCC at last week’s hearing, Rachel Birk, argued that Collett’s actions were “fundamentally incompatible with registration as a social worker.”
But his lawyer, Paul Diamond, described his donation of £500 to Ms A as “simply no more than a private act of humanity,” adding: “Don’t disproportionately punish someone for what is foolhardy but an act of compassion”.
He said Collett had taken “drastic action” to protect a child and had video-taped her evidence. Child R’s mother, gave evidence, and described Collett as a “wonderful person”.
“He was caring. He listened to what I and my daughter had to say,” she said.
In deciding to admonish Collett, the committee also took into account Child R’s mother’s “glowing” account of him.