Information was received by BACP, which raised questions about the suitability of Mr Senior's continued membership of this Association. The matters raised were considered under Article 4.6 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association. The Article 4.6 Panel decided to implement Article 4.6 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association and withdraw BACP membership from Mr Senior. Mr Senior appealed against the decision and the matter was considered by the Article 4.6 Appeal Panel.
Prior to the Appeal Hearing Mr Senior notified BACP and provided reason as to why he could not attend the Hearing. The Panel had to consider proceeding with the Appeal Hearing in his absence. The Panel noted that he had been advised of the date of the Appeal Hearing in good time. There was no reason to believe that if the case was adjourned that he would attend on a subsequent date. The Panel also noted that he had wished the Appeal Hearing to proceed in his absence. The Panel was firmly of the view having regard to the nature and the seriousness of the previous panel's findings that it was in the public interest to proceed and in so doing there was no injustice to Mr Senior.
The allegations were as follows:
That over a period of time in 2008 and 2009, Mr Senior allegedly sent a series of abusive, disrespectful and disturbing messages to a number of individuals by various media including text, telephone, instant messaging and email. The unwelcome messages were sent to four ladies most, if not all of whom were first known to Mr Senior as professional colleagues. The alleged inappropriate content, nature and persistency of the messages gave rise to such serious concern and distress to some of the recipients that they approached the police for assistance. In one particular case, this allegedly resulted in Mr Senior's arrest and a formal caution for harassment. It is also alleged that Mr Senior failed to notify BACP of his caution at the time of seeking and obtaining accreditation status.
Mr Senior allegedly made sexual disclosures on the World Wide Web including posting pornographic images of himself. It is further alleged that the sexual presentation and exposure of himself on the World Wide Web has been linked to BACP and the counselling profession. Mr Senior's alleged behaviour further raises concerns for the safety of any vulnerable clients that may be in receipt of counselling services from him, and concerns with regard to his fitness to practise.
The information further suggests that Mr Senior's reported behaviour is incompatible with the values and principles of counselling and psychotherapy, and is lacking in the personal moral qualities of integrity and respect, to which counsellors and psychotherapists are strongly encouraged to aspire.
The Article 4.6 Panel decided to implement Article 4.6 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association and withdraw Mr Senior's membership, to take effect 28 days from notification of the Panel's decision, pending an appeal. The Panel's reasons for invoking Article 4.6 were as follows:
- Whilst Mr Senior offered a justification for the very disturbing and disrespectful texts and emails, Mr Senior did not deny sending them, nor did he deny that they were unpleasant. Mr Senior admitted to "continuously calling" Ms A and also that the messages sent to Ms B "got out of hand". The Panel found the language and expression of text messages and telephone messages totally unacceptable under any circumstances, and incompatible with the values and principles of counselling and psychotherapy. In addition, they demonstrated a serious lack of the personal moral qualities of integrity and respect, to which counsellors and psychotherapists are strongly encouraged to aspire.
- Mr Senior alleged that he had already sent off his application for accreditation, prior to the caution. The Panel accepted that this was the case, but nevertheless found that he had a duty to inform BACP that his circumstances had changed. While there was not an explicit obligation to declare convictions at the time, there was a moral obligation under the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling & Psychotherapy. However, the Panel were unanimous that this finding on its own would not have constituted grounds to withdraw membership of BACP.
- There was insufficient evidence for the Panel to make a finding on the allegation that he made sexual disclosures on the World Wide Web, including posting pornographic images of himself.
Mr Senior appealed against the decision of the Article 4.6. and the matter went forward for the consideration of the Article 4.6 Appeal Panel
While it was frustrating for the Appeal Panel not to be able to question Mr Senior, it listened to the oral submissions by the complainants and asked in-depth questions of them, which the complainants found distressing as they recalled their experiences.
It was the duty of the Article 4.6 Appeal Panel to decide whether the decision of the Article 4.6 Panel to implement Article 4.6 was just and reasonable in all the circumstances and then to decide whether an appeal should be allowed or denied.
Mr Senior indicated in his appeal, that the incidents detailed in the Article 4.6 Panel's findings, had occurred at a particularly low period of his life, contributed to by problems resulting from alcohol abuse, which he admitted had led to lapses of judgement. He admitted that he went about things in a totally wrong way. He apologised for his actions and regretted any distress caused. He also indicated that he is currently dealing with the problems that he allege gave rise to his behaviour, and that he was currently unable to practice.
While the complainants described the distress they experienced arising from his actions, the Appeal Panel also had to carefully consider the mitigation offered by Mr Senior. Despite his mitigation, the Appeal Panel was deeply concerned by the serious findings made against Mr Senior by the Article 4.6 Panel and especially with regard to his behaviour and actions relating to the complainants, as described by the original Panel. The Panel considered that this amounted to bringing the profession into disrepute in that the public's trust in the profession might reasonably be undermined if they were accurately informed of all the circumstances of this case.
The Appeal Panel was unanimous in finding that the decision of the Article 4.6 Panel in invoking Article 4.6 was just and reasonable in the circumstances and denied the appeal. Consequently, Mr Senior's membership of BACP is withdrawn with immediate effect.
Any future re-application for membership will be considered under Article 4.3 of the Memorandum & Articles of the Association.