A social worker has told a conduct committee that God told him to give cash to a vulnerable mother so she could visit a Nigerian ‘prophet’.
Paul Collett, 45, told the General Social Care Council hearing: “It was my conviction that God had spoken through my conscience to give this money to her.”
Collett has admitted writing to the woman, after her five children were taken into care, telling her she “needed a miracle, probably several” and enclosing religious DVDs, a newspaper called ‘Faith Cometh’ and a personal cheque for £500 in July 2007.
Miracle cures for Aids advertised
He said she could use the money to visit the Prophet TB Joshua, whose website advertises miracle cures for Aids and cancer, and that he could put her in touch with someone who could help with travel arrangements.
Collett, who had previously acted as a court guardian for the woman’s children, said TB Joshua had helped him through a bout of depression in the past and that after visiting him he “immediately felt the pressure taken from me”.
‘Christian thing to do’
Giving evidence to the committee, Collett said he believed the personal donation to the woman, who had been sexually abused as a child and was herself a user of services, was a “very Christian thing to do”.
He added: “Perhaps the letter could have been better-worded but there was no mischief intended. In my Christian circles this would not have been problematic. It was not my intention to upset the mother or impose my faith on her.”
Collett said his faith had prevented him suffering “desperation and despair” in his professional and personal life.
20 years’ experience
The social worker, who has 20 years’ experience and is a practice teacher and assessor, author and former university lecturer, is facing a number of other charges in relation to another child for whom he acted as a guardian, in the same locality.
He said he was not aware that a court order, which prevented audio and video recording of the child, known as Child R, applied to him when he video-taped an interview with her about an alleged disclosure of sexual abuse by her father.
Collett, a self-employed guardian, said he had carried out the interview in May 2006 after a decision was taken by the council, which has not been named to protect the identities of the children, to remove her from the child protection register.
Disagreed with social worker
The decision was made at a case conference that Collett had not been invited to and he disagreed with an inexperienced social worker’s opinion that the girl has been coached by her mother in relation to abuse claims.
The child’s mother had first contacted police in August 2004 over the disclosure and Collett said evidence subsequently gathered by agencies, including an audio recording of the disclosure made by the mother, had been damaged or been lost.
“It was bizarre that important child protection information had been lost or damaged. I have never had the misfortune of experiencing that. My head was racing with conspiracy theories,” he said.
The hearing continues.
Conduct: Social worker gave mother cash to visit ‘prophet’