Douglas Adams struck off GSCC register

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An assistant director of children’s services who made a series of offensive remarks to female colleagues, including likening one to “Miss Whiplash”, has been struck off.

Douglas Adams, who was sacked from Barnsley Council in 2006 when colleagues complained about his behaviour, is the most senior social worker to be banned by a conduct committee of the General Social Care Council since the first hearing in 2006

Adams, 56, who now lives in Nottingham and is unemployed, told one colleague: “I can see you in a Miss Whiplash outfit with high leather boots”, while he told another, who was pregnant at the time, that she would “end up alone and on the dole”, the committee found.

At the end of a two-day hearing in London, chair of the conduct committee Barry Picken today concluded the right of potential colleagues “to be safe from abuse” was more important than Adams’ right to continue working in social care.

The committee found Adams had breached the code of practice for social care workers by behaving in a way that called into question his suitability to work in social care, and by failing to treat his colleagues with respect.

Abusive remarks

The senior manager made the abusive remarks towards his pregnant colleague, known as Ms D, in April 2006 when he called the administrative officer into his office, according to the GSCC’s representative Sean Larkin.

Adams allegedly said to Ms D: “Do you want me to talk straight to you?”

He went on to say he knew Ms D was pregnant because her “tits” were bigger, that her boyfriend would not love the baby and that the baby’s real father would not support her, Larkin said.

Adams, who was the council’s lead officer on teenage pregnancy, also told 20-year-old Ms D that she was “doing well [at work] at the moment” and suggested it would be “easy” to have an abortion.

Although he did not attend the hearing, Larkin quoted written evidence from Adams explaining he had used the words as “shock treatment” because he did not want the woman to become a single mother and end up a “typical Barnsley girl”.

Deborah Lightfoot, who was interim head of services at Barnsley Council before Adams took up the position in early 2005, was appointed by the council to investigate the complaint.

Lightfoot told the hearing that Ms D, described as a “vulnerable individual”, was “shocked” by the comments and felt they were inappropriate.

Tearful

Lightfoot said Adams had admitted to her that the conversation had taken place and accepted it was inappropriate, but claimed he had intended to be supportive.

“At one point he phoned and was very tearful and distressed about what had happened,” she said.

Adams said in a written statement that he had had a number of conversations with Ms D, and that on the day in question she had come to him for advice.

He pointed out that he had been in social care since 1976 and had never faced disciplinary action before. He accepted most of the allegations, including that he made inappropriate comments to other female colleagues on more than one occasion, but denied misconduct.

But the committee decided removal from the register was the only appropriate sanction because Adams had shown “little insight” into the seriousness of his actions and a “blatant disregard” for the code of practice. The members upheld 16 allegations of inappropriate and disrespectful remarks to female colleagues while a further allegation of disclosing private medical information about one of the women was not proven.

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