Information was disclosed to BACP, which was considered under Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association together with Ms Jessop’s response.
The member, Ms Paula Jessop, was notified of the allegations and sent a copy of the information submitted to BACP.
The summary of the information received was as follows:
In an email received at BACP 27th December 2017 Organisation X informed BACP that Ms Jessop had been dismissed from Organisation X following an investigation into two complaints it had received regarding services provided by Ms Jessop in her role as a Counsellor.
[ . . . ]
Organisation X had provided a copy of the disciplinary outcome letter dated 15th December 2017.
Following its investigations, Organisation X considered that the following allegation was found proven:
1. Unauthorised and inappropriate use of alternative concepts as part of counselling duties, the nature of which caused upset and distress to clients.
Organisation X therefore made the following findings:
• That Ms Jessop’s actions fell significantly below the standards expected of all staff employed at [ . . . ].
• That Ms Jessop damaged the good name and reputation of Organisation X.
• That Ms Jessop irreparably damaged the employee/employer trust relationship.
As a result of these findings, Organisation X took the decision that this amounted to gross misconduct and summarily dismissed Ms Jessop.
It is further noted that to date, Ms Jessop had not notified BACP of her dismissal.
The nature of the information raised questions about the suitability of Ms Jessop’s continuing membership of this Association and it raised concerns about the following in particular:
• To date, Ms Jessop 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.
• It was alleged that in having been summarily dismissed, Ms Jessop had brought, or may yet bring, not only this Association, but also the reputations of counselling/psychotherapy into disrepute.
• It was alleged that being summarily dismissed was incongruent with what was expected of a member of BACP.
• The information further suggested that there may have been a serious breach, or breaches, of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions 2016.
Article 12.6 Panel’s Decision
The Panel carefully considered all the evidence submitted by Organisation X and the response made by Ms Jessop and decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association.
Ms Jessop’s membership would be withdrawn subject to appeal. Ms Jessop had 28 days from the date of notification of this report to make an appeal. In the absence of an appeal, notification would be given to Ms Jessop by the Chair of the Association with regard to the withdrawal of membership.
In addressing the issues before it, the Panel gave due consideration to all evidence supplied by Ms Jessop's former employer, Organisation X, and the responses from Paula Jessop. The Panel considered the following points to be central in its decision making:
• Ms Jessop was employed with Organisation X from 2004 until she was summarily dismissed in December 2017. But the complaints that resulted in her dismissal relate to 2017 only.
• Ms Jessop denies failing to notify BACP. She says she contacted BACP in October 2017, at the same time as she contacted her private insurance company. She says she also contacted BACP in November 2017. She explains she was under the impression she did not have to contact BACP again in December 2017. The Panel also noted that Ms Jessop apologises for her misunderstanding of her duty to BACP. In the absence of evidence that contradicts Ms Jessop’s explanation, the Panel concluded that there was insufficient evidence to find that Ms Jessop 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.
• The Panel noted that having received the complaints about Ms Jessop, Organisation X directed an investigation by an appropriately senior professional, who produced a disciplinary investigation report in November 2017. The Panel reviewed the report and found nothing to indicate Organisation X had failed to follow its disciplinary procedures and no evidence to justify going behind the conclusions of the disciplinary hearing. The Panel also noted that there is no evidence that Ms Jessop has challenged her dismissal at Employment Tribunal. It therefore found Organisation X’s investigation and findings to be credible and persuasive evidence of Ms Jessop’s behaviour as a practitioner.
• The Panel noted Organisation X’s disciplinary finding that she had made unauthorised and inappropriate use of alternative concepts as part of her counselling duties, the nature of which had caused upset and distress to clients. The Panel noted, in particular, the age and vulnerability of Client 1 and the failure to maintain boundaries with Client 2. It determined that Ms Jessop’s conduct indicated that she may have committed serious breaches of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions 2016.
• In addition, the Panel noted that Ms Jessop had been summary dismissed as a result of Organisation X’s disciplinary process and that this was the most severe outcome available to that process. It looked for potential mitigation, but found that Ms Jessop’s responses showed a lack of recognition of the seriousness of her conduct or of having been summarily dismissed for conduct in the course of her counselling work. Accordingly, in this case, the Panel decided that being summarily dismissed for conduct in the course of counselling work was incongruent with that which is expected of a member of BACP.
• Finally, the Panel decided that, if the details of Ms Jessop’s conduct and summary dismissal were accurately made known to the public, they would bring not only the BACP, but also the reputations of the professions of counselling and psychotherapy into disrepute.
In conclusion, the Panel unanimously agreed that Ms Jessop’s failings warranted the withdrawal of her membership of BACP.
Ms Jessop did not appeal the decision and her membership was withdrawn.
Any future re-application for membership will be considered under Article 12.3 of the Articles of Association.
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