A social worker has successfully appealed his removal from the social care register after a tribunal found there was no “adequate or proper evidence” he molested three disabled boys in his care.
David Morris had been accused of touching the boys in a sexually motivated manner while working at a residential respite centre run by Wirral Social Services in the 1980s.
Two of the boys, both of whom suffer from cerebral palsy, came forward in 2004 after a chance meeting with Morris allegedly prompted memories of abuse.
They said Morris had touched them inappropriately when carrying out intimate care duties, such as helping them to wash and go to the toilet.
A third boy with learning difficulties claimed to be a victim after he was questioned by police and a social worker.
Morris has consistently denied any wrongdoing, but he was struck off the register in March after the General Social Care Council upheld statements and accounts given by the boys during earlier police interviews.
Morris appealed to the First-tier (Care Standards) Tribunal on the basis that the boys had given contradictory accounts.
He also claimed the GSCC’s conduct committee had given unfair weighting to the boys’ accounts over his own, and had not given adequate consideration to his good character.
The GSCC said it had assessed all of the evidence including that of Morris and his character witnesses. It defended the decision to remove him from the register, claiming there was “clear evidence in support of each of the allegations”.
However, Judge John Burrow said the tribunal panel had “many reservations and concerns” about the evidence of the two boys who had first spoken out.
Many of the allegations of inappropriate touching could equally be interpreted as Morris carrying out his duties of intimate care, the panel found.
“Even where the allegations appeared to go beyond the provision of intimate care, we considered there was real and serious scope for misunderstandings on the complainants’ part as to what had been done to them and why,” Burrow said.
“We felt that no adequate or proper evidence had been adduced to show that any inadvertent or allegedly inappropriate touching in the process of providing intimate care had been sexually motivated.”
The tribunal said this also largely applied to the evidence given by the third boy, adding that he used the word “abuse” apparently without understanding its meaning.
A GSCC spokesperson said Morris will be re-instated on the register.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails