Social worker who read book during child’s court proceedings struck off

Judge ordered social worker to be replaced on case after family lawyer spotted he’d concealed novel in his work diary

A child protection social worker who read a book during court proceedings has been struck off.

The social worker was given a conditions of practice order in 2014 after he admitted to reading a fiction book during care proceedings involving one of his service users.

Reviewing the order this month, a committee found he should be removed from the register as he’d shown “no intention or commitment” to address his misconduct and instead indicated he wanted to quit the profession.

The social worker concealed the book “with an orange cover” inside his work diary during care proceedings in 2013.  A lawyer for the family noticed he was reading it throughout a day when the service user’s parents were giving court evidence. The lawyer later claimed the social worker had shown a “total disinterest” during two days of proceedings.

Loss of confidence

When cross-examined in the court, the social worker admitted to reading the book. The judge found the parties in the case had a “significant loss of confidence” in the social worker as a result of his actions and ordered he should be replaced on the case.

When the social worker’s local authority investigated the incident, he initially denied that he’d read the book throughout proceedings and claimed he’d only read it during breaks. But he later admitted “I was reading the book for the majority of the day whilst at the same time taking notes”, adding: “I am aware my actions were unacceptable”.

The social worker was dismissed by the council and went on to work as a family support worker. The 2014 HCPC conduct panel found his actions amounted to “serious” misconduct as they caused the parties in the proceedings to lose confidence in him and the need for him to be replaced on the case “would have adverse consequences” for the child.

At a review of the conditions of practice order held this month, a committee made the striking off order after noting the social worker had disengaged with the process.

“He has chosen not to submit any evidence for this panel, he has expressly stated that he no longer wishes to practice as a social worker and said that he did not care about the outcome of the voluntary removal hearing, which was ultimately abandoned,” it found.


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7 Responses to Social worker who read book during child’s court proceedings struck off

  1. Pancho June 22, 2016 at 2:39 pm #


    • Ben June 22, 2016 at 11:32 pm #

      Proportionate? The HCPC were lenient not to strike him off immediately. He was lucky to be given a second chance, after his gross misconduct (and lying about it). He then blew that chance. That any professional world regard him as a victim is terrifying.

  2. paulo1281 June 23, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    I don’t think this is proportionate – it is very harsh and being struck off has seemed easier for the HCPC to implement because the social worker in question did not wish to pursue his career.

  3. Stuart June 24, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    Can’t understand why the worker would do that unless he was suffering some sort of mental illness, maybe caused by burnout.
    Still not acceptable of course but was he being properly managed before this happened?

  4. Anna June 24, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    I think this worker has only got himself to blame, to read a book in court is clearly showing that he did not care about the proceedings at all.
    However, this should mean that judges who fall asleep during hearings should be disquyalified from practicing too!

  5. Mark June 24, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    I agree with Ben and Pancho, reading a novel in the court at the point of a hearing taking place, then have the gall to lie about it? What is proportionate to a worker who seems to have little regard to listening to the evidence of parents and the court process.

    Paulo you’ve missed the point completely, it looks like the worker couldn’t be bothered or knew he had no case after admitting it.

    It appears he took the easier option which suits me, as he is one less worker to damage a child and tarnish our reputation!

  6. Sharon June 24, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    Struggle to see the point in reporting such ridiculously odd behaviour.