GSCC admonishment after social worker admits harassment

A social worker who received a police caution for sexually harassing a colleague has been admonished by the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

A conduct committee decided Christopher John Holden, who admitted harassing his former supervisor, had breached the code of practice by not respecting his work colleagues and admonished him for six months.

Christopher John Holden was dismissed from his job at Sandwell Borough Council after harassing his supervisor, known as Ms A, between 2008 and 2009.

Before her wedding anniversary, he had said to her: “If you come into work on Friday walking straight it will indicate that you have not had a good anniversary.” On another occasion he had said to her “put that midriff away”.

In April 2010 he was given a police caution after admitting harassment.

The committee heard that Mr Holden, a social worker for ten years, had repeatedly made inappropriate comments and touched Ms A on the arm, despite her asking him to stop.

Counsel for the GSCC Nimi Bruce said Mr Holden had difficulty understanding “no means no,” adding that the harassment had left Ms A unable to attend work because she felt “violated”.

Sam Destreicher, Mr Holden’s representative, said his behaviour had been “totally unacceptable” but it had often taken place in the presence of other colleagues and had not been “malicious and insidious”.

“It was not some sort of sinister motive. It was not an abuse of power. He was a subordinate to his manager,” said Mr Destriecher.

He added that Mr Holden was “truly sorry” for his actions, which had already cost him his job, had accepted a police caution and admitted all the GSCC charges.

The committee said that Mr Holden’s behaviour had been “wholly unacceptable,” but added that he had made full admissions, which had spared Ms A the distress of attending the hearing, had a previous good history and had demonstrated insight into his behaviour. “His actions were overt, not furtive. The complainant was his supervisor and there was no abuse of power,” it added.