Social worker hauled before regulator for ‘trolling’ David Cameron

The Blackburn social worker faces sanctions from the HCPC for allegedly sending 'offensive' tweets to the prime minister

'Offensive' tweets Photo: Rex/ David Hartley

A social worker has been brought before the regulator for allegedly trolling David Cameron in a series of expletive-filled tweets.

The Blackburn social worker had the future of his place on the social work register called into question today by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) after he allegedly sent the prime minister a number of comments on Twitter on subjects ranging from Jimmy Savile to benefits claimants.

‘Tweeted obscenities’

He also tweeted obscenities at media mogul Rupert Murdoch and American celebrity businessman Donald Trump.

The case against the social worker stated that his tweets constituted misconduct and this lack of competence meant his fitness to practise as a social worker was impaired.

Unusually, the regulator listed all of the tweets in the public notice of allegation, which dated from October 2012 to October 2013.

They included telling the prime minister:

“@DavidCameron if you’re as effective re Saville [sic] et al as with economy we’ll be overrun with shell suited, cigar-chomping pervs.”

He also tweeted: “@DavidCameron **** off you deluded ***** and “@DavidCameron Just **** off.”

On 14 October 2013 he stated: “Benefits and proud – I really could weep. I know these vermin are not representative of majority of benefits claimants but still angry.”

‘Inappropriate and offensive’

His tweets to Rupert Murdoch included telling him: “The world will be an infinitely better place when you die.” He tweeted at Donald Trump: “You’re the biggest self-aggrandising conceited **** in the world. And your hair is ****.”

The tweets were  alleged to be inappropriate, obscene and  offensive by the HCPC. The social worker now faces a sanction which, in the worst case scenario, could lead to his removal from the register.

Update (Feb 4 2014): The HCPC has adjourned the hearring, part heard. The date for the rescheduled hearing is 20 and 21 April. 2015.

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23 Responses to Social worker hauled before regulator for ‘trolling’ David Cameron

  1. Peter Teague January 30, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    Not a problem with the comments, just worried about SWs judgment in sending them.
    Needs help.

    • Martin Porter February 5, 2015 at 8:23 am #

      “Not a problem with the comments, just worried about SWs judgment in sending them.
      Needs help.”

      Maybe he thought he wasn’t at work and could say what he liked?

      Oh.

      He was.

  2. Bill Garnett January 30, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    I’m not even sure this is an approrpriate use of the regulator’s powers. There is a line to be drawn definately…but this seems harsh and disproportionate…why is the disciplinary process not being used…a verbal warning would seem to be a suitable response rtahre than threatening immediately someone’s livelyhood. Who was responsible for referring this to the regulator???

    • Maria January 30, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

      I agree. He expressed his views. I thought we lived in a country where people were allowed to do that even if at times it offended some people. Did he threaten to harm him or his family? Nope. He swore a lot and made some pararells between the government and a famous pervert. Wow! Is all I can say. The regulators clearly don’t have enough to do or to investigate

  3. Tammy M January 30, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    Not very nice messages but I think most people at some point have felt like telling David Cameron to erm.. Anyway, I think a verbal warning would be more appropriate here. Just my opinion.

  4. Pat Curtis January 30, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Totally agree with the sentiment.Language should maybe have been a bit more considered.Fine line between free speech and offence!

  5. Philip Measures January 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    Very unprofessional but he must feel very angry and frustrated at the serious state of inequality which exists not just within the UK but on a much wider level.

    Social Work and social workers need to find ways to oppose all of the unfairness; inequalities; oppression and disadvantages that so many Service Users face on a daily basis.

    Those of us who were around in the ‘olden days’ remember Radical Social Work and their magazine ‘Case Con’ – looking back those people were ahead of their time but the ‘system’ effectively marginalised and silenced them as social work became increasingly bureaucratic and the emphasis shifted from seeing ourselves as working ‘alongside’ our Service Users to actively oppressing them in many instances – they can now lose their children to ‘forced adoption’ within just 26 weeks and why is the UK almost alone in practising ‘forced adoption?’

    We have serious cutbacks in Social Care for the elderly and mentally ill – those elderly patients are now categorised as ‘bed blockers’!!! – 15-20 minute only home visist to support those still at home – ludicrous; nonsensical and unfit for purpose. Whatever happened to the old Help Help Services?

    We need to feel angry and frustrated but it is how we respond that really matters – has Social Work lost all remembrance of its origins and values?

  6. Sandy Beach January 31, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    Really, that’s money and time well spent?
    I know we don’t get the full reports on these cases so don’t have all the info, but it’s more and more like the thought police?
    This was inappropriate trolling, but an internal disciplinary process, warning, monitor, no repeat, end of story, stupid moment in life over might have achieved a better result, should they repeat, then disciplined by the org that hires him.
    Not sure where the HCPC comes into this, unless the person had then been disciplined carried on and challenged any disciplinary action?

    Suggestion that this is showing a weakness at management level, and in HR depts across the country,

  7. Ian Mancor January 31, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    What happened to free speech? This has the whiff of censorship about it. Are social workers supposed to exist in some kind of air sealed bubble? What happens if a social worker attends a demo against government cuts? Can they expect to be disciplined?The HCPC becomes an ever more ludicrous organisation. Senator Macarthy would have been proud of them!

  8. Andy West January 31, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    The guy was only saying what, I imagine a lot of social workers think. Good on him for saying it. It is a shame that our social work leaders cannot be as forthright in their dealings with government ( see article: Association of Directors of Adult Social Services president David Pearson responds to criticism that he should be using broadcast interviews to attack the government over care cuts)

    I am sure that these three gentlemen (Cameron, Murdoch and Trump) are used to having similar said to them on a regular basis. What is the HCPC about?-this is Murdoch for crying out loud-he publishes the Sun- Remember Baby P) It is a sad reflection on a profession that presumes to stand up for social justice and empowerment that a social worker is hauled before it for using a bit of anglo saxon English.

  9. LD February 1, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    The government talk about our rights to free speech, they agreed with France when they were and still are publishing pictures that some/many Muslims find highly offensive but that was ok in their eyes. So it seems we all have a right to free speech in this country unless it suits others to object and then we do not have free speech at all !!! yes, the SW went a little too far but considering what our government and others have been doing for years and the way they have lied and covered up many of their wrong doings, it does not surprise me the SW said what they did. Probably an excellent SW who does a very good job !!

  10. Jim Greer February 1, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    A report in the Mirror suggests that he only had 13 followers so it is unlikely that many people would have heard of his remarks if it was not for him being prosecuted by HCPC.
    For me what is missing from this tale is the identity of who reported this man and what their motivation was in doing so. I would also like to know if they attempted to reason with him and persuade him to take his tweets down before they reported him. If their real Motivation was to safeguard the reputation of the profession then I would hope they would have taken tried to do this first.

  11. Nick Wild February 1, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    Oh dear, it appears that a social worker has stepped out of the corporate world view that we’re all supposed portray. As a student SW I feel that I probably won’t last long after I qualify in a few months. Although I feel the profession that I’m joining bears no resemblance to that which I thought I was becoming a member of.

    Where are the demonstrations against the HCPC, austerity and attacks on free speech? Or do we face sanctions if we don’t all act in the same manner? I feel more and more that we’re all supposed to have the same personalities as well as the same “put up with it” attitude.

    He didn’t threaten, his language may have been a bit rich but I’d like to know more about his workload and the interactions he has had with service users that have made him have those views.

    I also thought we were supposed to challenge oppression and marginalisation. What happens when the different proficiencies we have to meet are in opposition to each other?

  12. Colin Peters February 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    Could it be that SW has hit a sore spot?

  13. Pamela February 2, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    I agree with many of the comments above. Whilst comments shouldn’t be offensive in nature, Social Worker posts are not politically regulated, and as individuals we should be affored our right to freedom of speech. I’m not convinced that this issue should fall under the jurisdiction of the regulator, HCPC, as I wasn’t aware that they regulate our personal views, politics and potentially our thoughts. It seems grossly unfair, when Newspapers can assert outlandish opinions and politicians can publically ridicule other politicians and parties but Local Goverment employees who, by the very nature of their role challenge social government and decisions, are ‘threatened’ with potentially losing their job, livelihood and career if they voice opinions anywhere other than in their private thoughts.

  14. N Peters February 2, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    So, who IS allowed to publically express their concerns? Seems if you’re a professional in any way you risk losing your livelihood. Can anyone else see the dangers of where this is leading? I know students who daren’t legally protest or speak publically against what they feel to be wrong as it could inhibit their chances of a job further down the line….

    Dangerous precedents being set.

  15. Mark Highfield February 4, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    Freddom of speech?? While i agree the worker could have used more “appropriate words” he was expressing his opinions which i think vent the frustration of the whole country. Yet another example of HCPC going above their duty. Yet another example of infringment on someone’s human rights (article 8 ECHR)
    Let them carry on, it’s only a matter of time before they are challenged on this.

  16. JJ February 4, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    It is incredulous that those regulatory ****s have ****ing nothing better to do than **** up a SWs professional life. We the willing are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. So **** off our already ****ing difficult job you ****ing useless ****s

  17. George Orwell February 4, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    Offence is very rarely given but often taken!

    • Susan Atkins February 5, 2015 at 8:59 am #

      Surely in his defence. He can quote all those ‘offensive’ emails and misleading information being put out by the Tory Party, I seem to have got on a list somehow and have received begging letters full of distortion and downright lies purporting to come from at least six senior Tory politicians including the PM

  18. Martin Porter February 5, 2015 at 8:22 am #

    Maybe it’s Community Care selectively reporting, but I don’t see many cases coming up before the HCPC of Social Workers doing things wriong whilst at work. Instead the regulator seems to be more interested in policing our private lives.

  19. Barbara Schaefer February 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    As a senior social worker I was shocked at the headline; having read the quotes, I think it lack judgment to use offensive judgment in public as a social worker because we have to show that we can justify the trust the public puts in us (some still do) to act professionally.
    The fact that we are aggrieved about performance of the government and media, should be an impulse to express that appropriately and effectively.
    Unfortunately, without that judgment we we won’t be very effective representing our clients’ need to the Local Authority either.
    – tend to agree with the person who said he may need help…

  20. Chris February 11, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    I know the gentleman in question.

    The tweets were seemingly referred to various bodies as revenge for him testifying against the complainer in a criminal (crown court) case not related at all to his job.

    Although his twitter account wasn’t strictly anonymous (he used his nickname rather than full name) it didn’t refer to his profession or place of work and as far as I’m aware the tweets were all sent in his personal time from his own personal device.

    As the tweets were addressed to Cameron/Murdoch/Trump & with him only having a mere 13 twitter followers, it’s unlikely anybody actually saw the comments other than those actively searching for dirt on him.

    The language used was a tad juvenile, but the tweets were largely on issues of public interest and addressed to relevant public figures.

    He’s not a bad bloke and certainly isn’t some nutcase obsessive who spends all of his spare time tweeting obscenities (as portrayed in another article). He’s just a concerned citizen who expressed a handful of opinions (albeit in a somewhat melodramatic manner) over a period of over a year. Nobody was harmed nor was anybody threatened with any harm.

    As others have said, a warning to tone it down should have sufficed. The cost to the taxpayer of going down this route cannot really be justified in any terms I can think of.