Official warning for former deaf association social worker

A former social worker with the Tayside Deaf Association has been given an official warning for misconduct.

Alan Whyte worked for the organisation for 36 years before being dismissed in 2009. He was investigated by sector regulator the Scottish Social Services Council, based in Dundee, and it has released details of the case.

Mr Whyte sent a condolence card to the home of someone who had previously used the association’s services. This was supposedly in relation to the death of the person’s partner, but no one had died. The card was said to have caused “considerable distress” to the person and their partner.

The SSSC’s inquiry also found he had “attempted to disguise his handwriting and his identity by signing the card using fictitious names.”

No motive for the act is mentioned in the official findings. However, Mr Whyte was said to have admitted what he had done at an early stage of a police investigation and a fact-finding inquiry by his employer, and had expressed his regrets.

The SSSC noted it received undisclosed information from Mr Whyte’s GP and testimonials from his former colleagues and it concluded that his behaviour had been “significantly out of character.”

His employment record prior to the incident had been unblemished and he had not demonstrated any similar behaviour since being sacked. He had also provided evidence that he had made progress in dealing with his health issues.

The SSSC said it was satisfied that Mr Whyte had breached its code of practice, which states that anyone on its register must not behave in a way, at or outwith work, that calls into question their suitability to be employed in social services.

“A warning will ensure that future employers are aware that there has been a previous concern about the registrant’s conduct and the nature of that concern,” it said.

Mr Whyte accepted the sanction last month and, the period for an appeal having expired, the warning came into effect on July 1. It will stay on his record for two years.

It is understood that Mr Whyte has not worked since his dismissal from Tayside Deaf Association.

The association provides a wide range of services to deaf and hard of hearing people and their families, including advice and information, social work services, befriending, communication support, tinnitus counselling and classes in sign language and lip reading.