Nwokoro v General Social Care Council, Court of Appeal - Social workers/social care workers, July 21, 2008, [2007] EWCST 1186(SW) (21st July 2008)Onyerindu (The Lime Trees Residential Care Home) v Commission for Social Care Inspection [2007] EWCST 1041(EA)

Resolution Date:July 21, 2008
Issuing Organization:Social workers/social care workers
Actores:Nwokoro v General Social Care Council
 
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Care Standards Tribunal

1

Nwokoro v General Social Care Council [2007] EWCST 1186(SW) (21st July 2008)

Christopher Onyeka Nwokoro

-v-

General Social Care Council

[2007] 1086.SW

-Before-

Mr Simon Oliver

(Deputy President)

Ms Susan Last

Mr Andrew Wilson

Decision

Heard on 14th April 2008 at the Civil Justice Centre, Manchester

Representation

The Appellant did not appear and was not represented

For the Respondent: Ms E Grey of counsel.

Appeal

  1. This is an appeal by the Appellant under section 68 of the Care Standards Act 2000 against the decision of the Respondent to refuse to register him as a social worker.

    Preliminary Matters

  2. The Appellant was due to attend the hearing, which had been set down for two days. He had previously taken part in a telephone directions conference in respect of this appeal. When the Appellant had not attended by 10.30 we asked our London clerks to make enquiries to see if the Appellant could be contacted. Despite their best efforts it was not possible to contact the Appellant although we were satisfied that he had received notice of the hearing. We decided to proceed to hear the case in his absence.

  3. We decided at the end of the case that, given our decision, we would agree to the request of the Respondent to lift the restricted reporting order.

  4. The Respondent asked us to admit 3 statements as late evidence. These had been sent to the Appellant and we agreed to admit them.

    The Law

  5. Section 58(1) of the Care Standards Act 2000 provides that the GSCC must refuse to register the Appellant if it is not satisfied that he is of good character. Further, section 58(3) provides that the GSCC must similarly refuse an application where an Appellant does not satisfy any requirements as to conduct and competence which it might by rules impose.

  6. Section 57(1) of the 2000 Act provides that an application for registration must be made in accordance with any rules made by the GSCC. In this regard Rule 4(3)(a) of the General Social Care Council (Registration) Rules 2005 further provides that an appellant must provide in connection with his application evidence as to: (i) his good character (as it relates to his fitness to practise the work expected of a social care worker), including endorsements from an employer or where the Appellant is self employed or not in employment, from a social care employer or other person acceptable to the GSCC as being fit to provide such an endorsement; (ii) good conduct; and (iv) competence.

  7. The onus is on the appellant to satisfy the Registration Committee of his competence and good character (Jones -v- Commission for Social Care Inspection [2004] EWCA Civ 1713; [2005] 1 WLR 2461). The same test applies before this Tribunal.

    The Evidence heard

  8. Given the conclusion we have reached and the comments we are making at the end of this decision, it is appropriate that we set out in detail the steps that the GSCC have taken in this matter and the comprehensive deceit practiced by the Appellant.

  9. On 9 June 2005, the GSCC received the Appellant's application for registration. The Appellant stated that in July 2002 he had been awarded a Diploma in Social Work by Lagos State University, Nigeria.

  10. On the same day, the GSCC wrote to the Appellant to acknowledge receipt of his application. The GSCC stated that it was unable to continue processing his application because he had not provided a verified birth certificate or alternative suitable identification documentation, nor had he completed page 10 of the application form.

  11. On 10 June 2005, the GSCC wrote to the Appellant to confirm it had received instructions in his application form to collect payment for his application by direct debit. The GSCC advised the Appellant that it would collect £155 from his account on or around 1 July 2005 and that it would continue to collect £30 on or around this date each year for the next two years.

  12. On 21 July 2005, the GSCC wrote to the Appellant to remind him that it required two forms of identification from him, one being a copy of his passport, which it had received, and the other being a copy of his birth certificate. He was also asked to send the correct fee within 14 days in order to continue with the application process.

  13. On the same day, the GSCC wrote a separate letter to the Appellant regarding payment of the fee for his application by direct debit. The GSCC stated that it had been notified by its bankers that there was a problem with the direct debit instructions the Appellant had provided. The GSCC's bank had advised it that payment was rejected. The GSCC enclosed a new direct debit form for completion and return by the Appellant within 14 days of the date of its letter.

  14. On 6 September 2005, the GSCC received a telephone call from the Appellant. He advised the GSCC that he would send the information requested regarding his application to the GSCC ``tomorrow''.

  15. On 14 September 2005, the GSCC wrote to the Human Resources/Personnel Department at BS Social Care. BS Social Care are a social care employment agency that the Appellant had registered with. In its letter, the GSCC stated that it had been unable to continue processing the Appellant's application because the Appellant had not provided the GSCC with a copy of his birth certificate and he had not completed page 10 of his application form. On 14 September 2005, the GSCC wrote a letter to the Appellant. It reminded him that it was still unable to process his application because he had not provided the required identification documentation and page 10 of his application form had not been completed. On 5 January 2006, the GSCC received notification that on 19th December 2005, the Appellant had cancelled his instruction for direct debit payment.

  16. On 20 March 2006, the GSCC telephoned the Appellant. The Appellant stated that he had his Part I application form and that he was going to have it endorsed by the director of his recruitment agency. He stated that he would have a copy of his birth certificate verified by his endorser. In addition, the Appellant stated that he would also send a cheque for £155 with his application along with a further direct debit form for future payments. The Appellant advised the GSCC that it would receive this information by 27 March 2006.

  17. On 28 April 2006, the GSCC wrote to the Appellant. In its letter the GSCC stated that it had still not received Part I of the Appellant's application form, nor a verified copy of his birth certificate, nor payment of £155. The GSCC stated that unless the GSCC received a response to its letter by 25 May 2006, it would take the following action:

    ``1. We will consider whether the GSCC is minded to refuse your registration;

  18. We will consider whether there should be conditions imposed on your registration.''

    It stated that if the GSCC did not hear from him, his application would be referred to a Registration Committee for a final decision.

  19. On 11 May 2006, the GSCC was contacted by Flow Recruitment Agency (``Flow''). They indicated that they had an issue with the Appellant and that they thought the employer with which he was currently placed would be sending through a complaint to the GSCC.

  20. On 12 May 2006, the GSCC received a telephone call from Stockport County Council (``Stockport''). Stockport stated that the Appellant had falsified references from them which it believed he had done in order to seek employment. It stated that the Appellant had been dismissed by Stockport due to performance issues, but it had later found out that the Appellant had also falsified documents in order to work with them in the first place. Stockport advised the GSCC that it would write with full details of these allegations.

  21. On 15 May 2006, the GSCC received a letter dated 12 May 2006 from Mrs Barbara Bowman, Personnel Manager, Together Trust. In her letter, Mrs Bowman stated that she was writing to inform the GSCC of concerns which Together Trust had about the Appellant, who was an ex-employee. Mrs Bowman stated that on 19 April 2006, Mr S Whaites from the Big Life Company (``Big Life'') contacted the Together Trust Personnel Department in order to verify a reference for the Appellant completed by a Paul Wright, Team Manager with the Together Trust. Mrs Bowman's letter stated that the Together Trust did not employ anyone by the name of `Paul Wright', nor did they employ anyone in the capacity of Team Manager. A copy of the reference was sent to the Together Trust from the Big Life and it appeared to the Together Trust that the copy letter provided was not a genuine reference. Mrs Bowman further stated that the Together Trust had a policy not to provide speculative or unsolicited references. In addition, Mrs Bowman stated that on 10 May 2006, Sunni Dhadwar from Flow Recruitment and Amanda Perraton from Stockport Social Services had contacted the Together Trust Personnel Department to verify a reference on the Appellant. On further investigation, according to Mrs Bowman, this was the same reference given to Big Life. Mrs Bowman stated in her letter that the Together Trust's solicitors had been instructed to pursue the matter with the Appellant.

  22. In her letter, Mrs Bowman stated that the Appellant had been employed as a Night Care Worker with the Together Trust from 14 October 2005 to 24 March 2006. The Trust's policy was that all employees were required to complete a satisfactory 12 month probationary period. The Appellant had not performed as expected, and even though he was still in his probationary period, following a Probationary Review Meeting on 10 March 2006, the decision was made by the Together Trust not to confirm him in post. As a result, the Appellant's employment with the Together Trust was terminated. Mrs Bowman set out the following performance issues which had led to the termination of the Appellant's employment:

    (a) poor time keeping and reliability in terms of the shifts he was required to undertake;

    ...

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