GSCC may have breached social worker’s human rights

The General Social Care Council may have breached a social worker’s human rights by refusing to let him re-register, a tribunal has found.

Judge Liz Goldthorpe, of the First-Tier Tribunal, said a decision by the GSCC to turn down an application by Jaswinder Bains to renew his registration without access to the relevant information was “fundamentally flawed”.

Referring to the European Convention of Human Rights, Goldthorpe said: “None of the [GSCC’s] processes in this case appeared to be characterised by the necessary fairness or transparency or compliance with natural justice or with Article 6 [the right to a fair trial].”

The social worker first ran into difficulty with the GSCC’s registration committee in 2006, when a confidentiality condition was imposed on his registration, requiring Bains to explain how information on any clients would be used and shared before starting work with them.

This condition related to a complaint about his conduct made to the GSCC by his former employer, Cafcass, in 2005, after allegations that he had falsified his expenses claims. Bains was cleared of wrongdoing in May 2005 after a criminal trial but he agreed to comply with the condition nonetheless.

However, when Bains applied to renew his registration in September 2009, the application was eventually refused by a GSCC registration committee in April 2010 on the grounds that he had failed to supply enough evidence that he had complied with the confidentiality condition.

At the First-Tier Tribunal hearing last month, Allan Norman of Celtic Knot Solicitors successfully argued that Bains had provided enough evidence by supplying a copy of a proforma letter he sent to all clients explaining the confidentiality policy.

Judge Goldthorpe said: “We find it difficult to understand why [the GSCC] did not draw the conclusion that its inability to produce any evidence to counter these assertions inevitably meant it would be difficult, if not impossible, to sustain its argument against renewal of his registration.

“It seems to have relied instead upon the inexorability of its own processes.”

The tribunal concluded there were no grounds for believing Bains was not suitable to be a social worker and ordered that he be reinstated on the register.

In a statement after the hearing, Bains said: “I can only hope the terms of this judgement are sufficiently robust for the GSCC to finally allow me to get on with what I do best: representing the interests of children.”

Michael Andrews, director of regulatory operations for the GSCC, said: “We acknowledge the comments made in this case and are considering the judgement in detail.

“Over the past 12 months we have worked to review a number of our processes and we will continue to do so in light of this decision.”

Read the full judgement

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