A misconduct case against a social worker accused of putting a child at risk has been thrown out due to a lack of evidence.
Kathryn Hibberts’ professional conduct came under the spotlight when a child who was one of her allocated cases accidentally took methadone at the family home in May 2008.
Hibberts had failed to “appropriately assess the potential risks” to the child because she had not properly carried out several of her duties, including completing a core assessment, a representative for the General Social Care Council claimed.
However, the GSCC’s officer was relying on the hearsay evidence of Angela Banks, Hibberts’ supervisor at Staffordshire Council, as set out in a written document.
Hibberts challenged the evidence and, because Banks had not directly provided a statement and had not been asked to attend the hearing, the conduct committee decided to exclude it altogether.
“The only live evidence the GSCC [can] rely on is the statement of Hilary Baseley, head of Staffordshire’s family assessment and support services,” the committee said.
“Baseley is not a witness that can speak to the factual issues that are central to this case. Miss Banks, however, could do so. Her evidence is pivotal to this case and is challenged by the registrant (Hibberts).
“The committee is of the view that it would not be safe to allow her evidence to be relied on without the registrant being afforded the opportunity to cross-examine and challenge her.”
As a result, the committee dismissed the allegations on the basis that the GSCC’s officer “offered no evidence”.
“The only council representative required by the GSCC to be present was Hilary Baseley, who had carried out the internal investigation into the conduct of the registrant,” said Sally Rees, corporate director for children, young people and families at Staffordshire Council, where Hibberts is still employed.
“Miss Baseley attended the hearing and was willing to give evidence. The council had no prior knowledge that representatives for the registrant had raised the issue of Miss Bank’s non-availability with the GSCC.”