Information was disclosed to BACP, which was considered under Article 12.6 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association.
The summary of the information together with the allegations were as follows:
Mr Fothergill was employed as a school counsellor. Various newspaper articles reported that he had been charged with sexual offences against children. Mr Fothergill confirmed that he had pleaded guilty to these offences and was in prison, awaiting sentencing. Mr Fothergill has now been sentenced to six years imprisonment in respect of seven child sex offences, including possessing and distributing indecent images and sexually assaulting a boy and causing or inciting a child and a boy under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
The nature of the information raised questions about the suitability of Mr Fothergill's continuing membership of this Association and it raised concerns about the following in particular:
- Mr Fothergill's actions have brought, or may yet bring, not only this Association, but also the reputations of counselling/psychotherapy into disrepute.
- By virtue of Mr Fothergill's actions, his fitness to practise was impaired.
- Mr Fothergill's behaviour was incongruent with that which 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 Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
The member was invited to send in a written response, and made a response.
The Panel carefully considered all the evidence disclosed.
The Article 12.6 Panel decided to implement Article 12.6 of the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Mr Fothergill's membership would be withdrawn subject to appeal. Mr Fothergill had 28 days from the date of notification of this report to make an appeal. In the absence of an appeal notification will be given to Mr Fothergill by the Chair of the Association with regard to the withdrawal of membership.
The reasons for the Panel's decision are as follows:
The Panel noted that Mr Fothergill had been convicted of the offences for which he had been charged, and received a custodial sentence. It was noted that there was no evidence that any of Mr Fothergill's clients had been the victims of abuse. The Panel noted the serious nature of the offences and agreed that Mr Fothergill's actions were incompatible with that which is expected of a BACP member and demonstrated that his fitness to practise had been impaired. The Panel further noted that information relating to Mr Fothergill's conduct was in newspaper articles within the public domain, and those articles
referred to the fact that Mr Fothergill was a counsellor. The Panel agreed that by virtue of his actions Mr Fothergill had brought the profession and the reputation of BACP into disrepute.
The Panel also agreed that Mr Fothergill's actions constituted a serious breach of the Ethical Framework and was sufficiently serious to warrant withdrawal of membership. The Panel was mindful of its obligations with regard to public protection and agreed that it was proportionate and necessary for Article 12.6 to be implemented and Mr Fothergill's membership to be withdrawn.
Mr Fothergill did not appeal the decision and his membership was withdrawn.
Any future re-application for membership will be considered under Article 12.3 of the Memorandum & Articles of Association.