Information was disclosed to BACP, which was considered under Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association.
The summary of the information received is that Organisation X contacted BACP on 2 May Year 2 to advise they had dismissed Ms Sheikh for gross misconduct. Organisation X provided copies of the outcomes of Ms Sheikh’s disciplinary hearing of 31 October Year 1 and her disciplinary appeal hearing of 24 January Year 2.
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The disciplinary panel found all three allegations to be proven and decided these amounted to gross misconduct. Ms Sheikh was, accordingly, summarily dismissed from Organisation X with immediate effect on 6 November Year 1. An appeal hearing on 24 January Year 2 upheld the disciplinary panel’s decision in full.
BACP contacted Ms Sheikh on 22 May Year 2 and informed her of the information it had received about her dismissal and requested her initial comments. Ms Sheikh responded on 14 June Year 2 with a statement and six-character references.
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ARTICLE 12.6 PANEL’S DECISION
The Article 12.6 Panel (the Panel) carefully considered all the evidence submitted by the Ms Sheikh and Organisation X, together with Ms Sheikh’s disclosure and responses. Having done so, the Panel decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association.
Ms Sheikh’s membership would be withdrawn subject to appeal. Ms Sheikh had 28 days from the date of notification of this decision to make an appeal. In the absence of an appeal, notification would be given to Ms Sheikh by the Chair of the Association regarding the withdrawal of membership.
In coming to its decision, the Panel considered the following points to be central in its decision making:
• Ms Sheikh was subject to a disciplinary hearing on 31 October Year 1, which resulted in a finding of gross misconduct and her dismissal from employment; her appeal was heard on 24 January Year 2 and confirmed the decision of the disciplinary hearing. She informed BACP that she had applied to but been unsuccessful at an employment tribunal. The Panel found:
o The alleged misconduct that led to Ms Sheikh’s dismissal was serious, raised questions about her judgement and probity, related directly to her therapeutic practice and could bring the BACP and her profession into disrepute.
o The findings of gross misconduct and sanction imposed by Organisation X were the most severe available to it, had been extensively investigated and reviewed and remained in place. The findings and sanction were, in themselves, incongruent with what is expected of a member of BACP and were aggravated by the nature of the misconduct.
• Ms Sheikh admitted that she had failed to notify BACP of her disciplinary hearing and subsequent dismissal from her former workplace as required by the terms and conditions of her membership.
• Ms Sheikh submitted several positive testimonials that speak highly of her. However, the contents of these suggests that the writers were not aware of the full circumstances of her dismissal.
• Most of the facts that led to Ms Sheikh’s dismissal were admitted and she undertook to ensure she was up to date with policies and procedures in future. However, the Panel noted Ms Sheikh had previously been a manager and, as such, would have been aware of the existence and importance of such policies.
• Ms Sheikh explained she had learned from this experience; however, the Panel noted that she had not self-referred, and it found that the language she used in her submissions to the BACP instead appeared to try to justify her actions, for example saying, ‘when it came to client care I always put them first and worked over and beyond the call of duty’ and alleging that [ . . . ]. The Panel concluded that this demonstrated a concerning lack of insight, reflection and acceptance of personal responsibility.
• This incident did not appear to be an isolated event. There was reference in the record of Ms Sheikh’s appeal of other, similar, conduct.
Consequently, the Panel unanimously found that:
1. Ms Sheikh failed to notify BACP of her disciplinary hearing and subsequent dismissal from Organisation X as required by the terms and conditions of her membership.
2. Ms Sheikh’s summary dismissal for conduct raised questions about her probity and related directly to her therapeutic practice, which may bring the reputations of BACP and the counselling and psychotherapy professions into disrepute.
3. Her summary dismissal for gross misconduct is, in itself, incongruent with what is expected of a member of BACP, particularly given the nature of the conduct that led to her dismissal.
4. The misconduct that led to Ms Sheikh’s summary dismissal suggests that she may have seriously breached the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions (2016).
Ms Sheikh did not appeal the decision and her membership was withdrawn.
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