Social worker banned after sex with service user

    A social worker who had sex with a mental health service user has been banned from practising.

    David Anthony Cookson, 44, of Southampton was employed as a locum social worker for Surrey County Council when he had sex with Ms A  – a woman with mental health problems.  Cookson became Ms A’s key worker in July 2006.  The General Social Care Council (GSCC) independent committee heard that, having gained her trust, he went on to have a full sexual relationship with her on a weekly basis, and she revealed to him she was pregnant.

    Cookson was convicted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 in Guildford Crown Court in 2008 and placed on the sex offenders register for five years and ordered to attend the Thames Valley sex offender’s group work programme.

    Cookson, who defended himself at the GSCC hearing, told the committee he deeply regretted what had happened and was very sorry for the damage he had caused to Ms A and the social care profession. He said he was “profoundly sorry” for abusing his position of trust and letting down a vulnerable woman who had already been abused by other people.

    But the committee said Cookson was aware from the outset that his actions breached the code of practice for social care workers and he had taken no steps to inform his supervisors. They said striking him off the register was the only appropriate action as the offence was not only criminal, but a serious breach of his position of trust.

    Rosie Varley, chair of the GSCC, said: “Social workers are put in a position of trust, and it is therefore vital that they act with integrity whilst safeguarding vulnerable people.”

    Cookson was removed from the register with immediate effect. He has the right of appeal.

    More information

    Expert guide: Conduct

    GSCC: Recently concluded hearings

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