Life ban for social worker over Gary Glitter joke e-mail

A SOCIAL worker who sent a joke e-mail with a picture of Gary Glitter "smuggling" an Asian child through an airport has received a life ban from the profession.

Charles Devlin, who had 27 years experience with South Lanarkshire Council, was sacked after also sending a string of "racist, homophobic, discriminatory, and sexually explicit" e-mails from his work computer.

The 53-year-old was suspended alongside 13 council colleagues over the e-mail controversy, and later lost his job. Now, after being found guilty of professional misconduct charges, he has been banned from working in the profession ever again.

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At a Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) conduct hearing in Dundee earlier this year he admitted sending five "offensive" e-mails, including one depicting Gary Glitter under an airport Duty Free sign and holding a plastic bag with a small Oriental child poking out of the top.

Mr Devlin also sent an e-mail showing naked homosexuals in bed and questioning whether it was appropriate for same sex couples to adopt children. In response to that e-mail, he wrote to a colleague that it would "cause havoc wi' the pc lezers (lesbians]!!!!!!!!"

While he admitted sending the correspondence, and that certain e-mails contained "inappropriate content", he denied that it amounted to misconduct.

However, the SSSC sub-committee panel has now decided that Mr Devlin should be removed from the social workers' register with immediate effect.

In its ruling, the panel stated that Mr Devlin's actions, which involved "repeated similar behaviour", had amounted to "serious misconduct". In relation to the Gary Glitter e-mail, the committee admitted that it was not established whether the image had caused "any actual offence, alarm or distress".

However, it said: "The sending of this image was wholly inappropriate as the potential to cause offence to a recipient should have been foreseen."

The panel noted that during the conduct hearing, which took place two years after the misconduct had taken place, the registrant "did not display any apparent insight into the seriousness of his misconduct or its potential consequences. The registrant's focus was on the impact on himself."

It said: "A Removal Order was required because of the serious nature of the registrant's misconduct. Given his lack of insight, judgment and appropriate values he should not be allowed to remain in the register for social workers."

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Jim Wilson, head of Adult and Older People Services at South Lanarkshire Council, who sacked Mr Devlin over the incident, told the panel he was "appalled" by his conduct.