Social worker struck off for ‘exploitative sexual relations’

A social worker who conducted “inappropriate and exploitative sexual relations” with two vulnerable service users has been removed from the register.

Thomas O’Neill repeatedly “pestered” the women by telephone over a 13-month period while at Westminster Council and asked to see them outside work, an independent committee at the General Social Care Council found.

He also acted dishonestly in failing to tell prospective employers and the GSCC of his past misconduct, the committee said.

O’Neill, of south London, joined Westminster Council in January 1998 and began working with the female service users as part of a multi-agency team assigned to a supported housing unit.

He was sacked in February 1999 for gross misconduct when the inappropriate relationships came to light.

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O’Neill omitted his employment at Westminster and subsequent dismissal on application forms for two other jobs – at a social care and housing agency and Brent Social Services – and for registration with the GSCC.

The committee concluded that O’Neill’s failure to supply complete work histories amounted to misconduct. The GSCC code of practice requires all social workers to be “honest and trustworthy”.

A statement from the GSCC said: “Due to the seriousness and breadth of the misconduct, the committee felt that it had no choice but to remove O’Neill from the register.”

O’Neill became the 19th social worker to be struck off in England for breaching the code of practice since the organisation began investigating allegations of misconduct in April 2006.

In January this year, the council called for the development of codes of practice on sexual boundaries for social care staff.

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External information

General Social Care Council – information about conduct

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