Conduct committee in social worker ‘escort’ case allows private hearing

The first social worker to appear before the General Social Care Council’s conduct committee successfully applied for her case to be heard in private after arguing that the publicity could damage her health.

Yvonne Doyle, of Darlington, was due to attend a three-day hearing in Newcastle upon Tyne last week to face allegations that she had advertised herself as an escort, breaching the GSCC’s code of practice (Conduct body hears escort allegation, 6 April).

But she did not appear on the opening day and her counsel applied for the case to be held in camera, citing rules that allow cases to be heard privately on health grounds.

The GSCC agreed to the request, maintaining that the individual’s circumstances in the case outweighed the public interest.

Committee chair Barry Picken granted the application after more than two hours of legal debate.

He said the case would not be held in public because of the impact on Doyle’s health and “the potential impact on her of publicity in respect of this case”.

He added: “It was submitted by the registrant’s representative, and accepted by the presenter, that there is a great probability of her attending this hearing and giving oral evidence if it is heard in private.”

The conduct committee then took evidence for two days and will reconvene after Easter to announce its verdict.

The GSCC declined to comment on the case but said it had no plans to review its conduct rules as they were in line with those for other professions, including teaching and medicine.

The General Teaching Council and the General Medical Council allow cases to be heard privately in exceptional circumstances, including for health reasons.

Doyle is alleged to have advertised herself as an escort about a year ago, while working as a social worker. She no longer works for her employer but remains on the GSCC’s register.

She could be suspended, cautioned or removed from the register if the conduct committee finds that she breached the code.


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