Local authorities could take legal action against a website that publishes social workers’ names and photographs alongside Nazi imagery, according to a legal expert.
The website, called UK Social Workers Exposed, contains Nazi symbolism and claims to expose social workers’ identities in the interests of parents and children. “Here on this website we will expose the social workers that have stolen and continue to steal the children of the UK,” the site’s mission statement reads.
Community Care understands that a local authority is already considering taking legal action against the site, which has been described as ‘vile’ and ‘offensive’ by the British Association of Social Workers and the College of Social Work.
Ed Mitchell, a solicitor and editor of Social Care Law Today, told Community Care that individual social workers could seek to bring claims for libel – if untruths have been written about them – but warned this is “complicated and not for the faint hearted”.
Instead, he advised local authorities to take a different approach. “I would say the best legal response by a council would be to rely on its little-known power to seek an injunction in support of its statutory functions – if it thinks the site is acting to impede its discharge of its child protection functions by the effect it is having on its staff.”
Mitchell said the availability of an injunction in these circumstances was confirmed by a 1999 Court of Appeal decision (Broadmoor Hospital Authority v R, 1999), in which a hospital authority was granted an injunction prohibiting the publication of a book by a patient about life in the well-known secure hospital Broadmoor.
“I think such an injunction could be sought against the promoters of the site,” he added.
Following complaints from social workers and professional bodies, administrators at Facebook removed a web page and Facebook group associated with the website.
A Facebook spokesperson told Community Care that the page “broke Facebook’s terms as set out in our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”.
“While we don’t comment on individual cases, content can be removed for a number of reasons such as infringements of intellectual property or being created by a fake account,” the spokesperson said.