Information was disclosed to BACP, which was considered under Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association.
The summary of the information received is as follows:
BACP was advised that the Member was dismissed following an investigation as a result of a complaint regarding inappropriate behaviour with a client. Based on the evidence reviewed, the investigation concluded that he had severely breached the professional boundaries expected by Organisation X.
A copy of the disciplinary investigation report ("the Report") dated 23 April Year 7 was provided to BACP. The Report indicated that the client had received counselling from Mr Hackney, at the service, X1, between June Year 1 and December Year 4. The allegation set out was:
- Inappropriate behaviour with a young person in breach of Organisation X and BACP behaviours and Code of Conduct in working with young people.
Mr Hackney was suspended from his role as counsellor at Service X1 on 20 December Year 6 whilst an investigation took place.
The Report advised that it was clear from the information recorded in the client's file, which included the Member's session notes, that the client was an extremely vulnerable child when she started counselling in Year 1. Once she reached the age of 18, the client continued to be seen as a vulnerable young person as the counselling continued, until it came to an end in December Year 4 when the client was 20 years old. It was noted in recordings that in December Year 4, the Member assessed that the client was still vulnerable.
The Report outlined that in August Year 3, the client told the Member that she was in love with him. The Member recorded this in his session notes and these feelings continued as a central theme until the sessions ended in December Year 4.
Evidence obtained as part of the investigation and included in the Report, indicated that there had been inappropriate physical contact and conversations of a sexual nature. The audio evidence demonstrated that the Member had hugged the client on more than one occasion and there was a noise which sounded like a kiss. […]
There was also evidence that the Member gave the client a gift, a jacket, which the Report indicated as inappropriate in the client/counsellor relationship, particularly when boundaries needed to be maintained as the client had made it clear she was infatuated with him. […]
The investigation found that he continued to have contact with the client once sessions had ended at Service X1, when this should not have occurred. The reasons for this should have been explained to the client in the ending session. It was also found that the Member has instigated the initial contact with the client after the counselling had ended two months prior.
The Member met the client once in a coffee shop in March Year 5 and two further times in June and September Year 5 at the client’s family home. […]
The investigation concluded that the allegation was upheld and recommended the matter be taken to a formal disciplinary hearing.
The disciplinary hearing took place on 3 June Year 7. The Member did not attend. The final outcome letter to the Member outlined the following...
- Based on audio recordings, there was strong evidence that there had been inappropriate physical contact and conversations of a sexual nature with a young person.
- The young person described your actions and behaviours as a ‘betrayal from someone in a position of power’.
- The investigation concluded that you had severely breached professional boundaries.
- You continued to meet with the young person after the counselling sessions were closed with [Service X1], but you did not record or discuss this ongoing contact with [Service X1].
- Audio recordings provided evidence that you gave the young person a gift of a jacket which [you] denied.
The disciplinary hearing concluded that there was strong evidence that the Member did commit the alleged offences and there was no evidence to refute the allegations made or the statements and reports received.
It was found that the Member's actions breached the following sections of the Organisation X’s Code of Conduct:
- Section 1.5 – act honestly, act with integrity
- Section 2.1 – ensure your behaviour and performance meets workplace standards at any time when representing Organisation X or are likely to be identified or associated with your role as a public official (whether or not you are ‘on duty’ at the time).
- Section 2.4 – misconduct
- Section 3.3 – avoid doing anything that might adversely affect the reputation of Organisation X or Organisation X into disrepute. In your official capacity (as an Organisation X employee) or personal capacity, you must not allow your personal interests to conflict with Organisation X’s requirement or use your position to improperly confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person).
The disciplinary hearing led to the Member's summary dismissal and he did not appeal the decision made.
The nature of the information raised questions about the suitability of Mr Hackney's continued membership of the Association in particular:
- To date, the Member has failed to notify BACP of his disciplinary hearing and subsequent dismissal from his former workplace as required by the Terms and Conditions of membership.
- It is alleged that, in having been summarily dismissed, the Member has brought, or may yet bring, not only this Association, but also the reputations of counselling/psychotherapy into disrepute.
- It is alleged that being summarily dismissed is incongruent with what is expected of a member of BACP.
- The information further suggests that there may have been a serious breach, or breaches, of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions.
The Member was given an opportunity to respond to the above allegations but did not submit a response.
ARTICLE 12.6 PANEL’S DECISION
The Article 12.6 Panel ("the Panel") carefully considered all the evidence submitted by Person Y of Service X1 and decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Articles of Association. Subject to any appeal, Graham Hackney's membership will be withdrawn.
In addressing the issues before it the Panel gave due consideration to all evidence supplied by Person Y in the Report and the outcome of the Disciplinary Hearing. The Panel considered the following points to be central in its decision making:
Graham Hackney was summarily dismissed by his former employer after an investigation into his conduct with a vulnerable person. No appeal was made by Mr Hackney against the decision to dismiss him.
- Graham Hackney has not engaged with the Article 12.6 process at all, other than to indicate he wished to cancel his BACP Membership.
- Graham Hackney failed to report his dismissal, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of his Membership.
- This was a very serious allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour with a vulnerable person - including (but not limited to), out of session contact, text messaging, visiting the client in her home knowing her parents were away, inappropriate language used in sessions and giving of a gift.
- The evidence submitted in the Report was clear and the evidence credible. The Panel also gave evidential weight to the investigation and disciplinary process by which Mr Hackney was dismissed.
In conclusion, the Panel was satisfied that the evidence was such that Graham's Hackney had: failed to notify BACP of his disciplinary hearing and subsequent dismissal from his former workplace as required by the Terms and Conditions of membership; behaved in a way which was disgraceful such that it has or may yet undermine the public’s trust in the profession and the Association; behaved in a way that is incongruent with what is expected of a member of BACP; and that Graham Hackney's actions suggest serious breaches of the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions.
Mr Hackney 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 Mr Hackney by the Chair of the Association with regard to the withdrawal of membership.
Mr Hackney did not appeal the decision and his membership is withdrawn.
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