The former chair of the British Association of Social Workers has announced his intention to steer the body back towards efforts to develop a national college of social work by standing for re-election.
Tim Chittleburgh stepped aside as UK chair in December after a complaint was made to BASW about his private business dealings.
However, Community Care understands disciplinary proceedings have been put on hold while police investigate related allegations, made by Chittleburgh, of blackmail (see below).
Chittleburgh, who denies wrongdoing, has told BASW that he wants to return to the role at the end of the month and has received a nomination to continue.
Fran Fuller, BASW’s acting chair, was the only other council member to be nominated. An election will be held before the association’s annual meeting on 20 May.
In an exclusive interview with Community Care, Chittleburgh revealed his election address would focus on the college of social work debate. BASW’s council decided last month to put its proposals to form a separate UK college of social work to a members’ ballot. But Chittleburgh last week backed a motion for the body to rejoin the official college development group.
“For most of BASW’s life it has tried to bring social work on a level with all the other professions,” he said. “We get an opportunity to take that one step forward to the point where we have a college of social work, and for some reason BASW decides it wants to go it alone.
“There are two resolutions; one is for BASW to carry on down the path it’s on, the other is to rejoin the college development group – and I would certainly put my weight behind the latter.”
A BASW spokesperson said Chittleburgh’s re-election bid demonstrated the “strength of our democracy”.
However, it is understood that one council member is prepared to move for a vote of no confidence to prevent Chittleburgh from returning. This would not be legally binding.
Investigation into Chittleburgh’s business affairs
Chittleburgh left his BASW duties voluntarily in December while the association investigated what it called a “serious complaint”.
The woman who made the allegation to BASW was employed three years ago as a consultant by Chittleburgh’s company Ozone Recruitment. Relations soured when the company went out of business.
She made a complaint to BASW and the association’s investigatory committee referred the matter to the disciplinary board. The woman is not a social worker and it is understood the complaint is not related to the profession.
Community Care has since discovered that Chittleburgh contacted Sussex Police to report that threats had been made against him. The police are investigating the matter, which is understood to involve allegations of blackmail and harrassment.
BASW’s disciplinary hearing is likely to be adjourned pending the outcome of any criminal investigation.