Social worker struck off for sending explicit e-mails to women colleagues

A SOCIAL worker who sent a string of sexually explicit e-mails to female colleagues – including one aged 18 – has been told he will never work in the profession again.

Derek Cullen, 57, was axed from his position at Glasgow City Council last year, after almost 40 years, when bosses discovered his behaviour, which had caused significant distress to the three women involved.

But he asked the Scottish Social Services Council not to strike him off so that he could find a post with another local authority.

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At a hearing in Dundee, Cullen was told by senior figures there was no way back after he admitted sending the “abusive” e-mails, which he brushed off as “office banter”.

Kevin Culloch, who chaired the conduct panel, said: “The e-mails referred to in the charge were inappropriate and discriminatory. They were of a sexual and profane nature.

“You failed to meet the standards reasonably required of a social services worker.

“I am aware that removal from the register will have significant financial and reputational consequences for you and that you would like to continue to work in social services.

“But the serious nature of this misconduct – and the fact that it may be repeated – means that your personal interest is outweighed by the requirement to protect the public.”

Cullen also forwarded inappropriate material to a male colleague and used his Glasgow City Council e-mail address to send e-mails with a sexual content to an external address.

The exact nature of the messages were not disclosed in public during the proceedings, because they were understood to be too offensive.

Cullen told the hearing: “I accept totally my responsibility for them (the e-mails). I’m upset about the distress I have caused to my colleagues.”

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But social work official Jacqueline Torrance, who is now in charge of residential and day care services, said she had no choice but to suspend Cullen.

Giving evidence to the panel, Ms Torrance said: “This was a very serious decision. His conduct with female colleagues and the use of sexualised e-mails was highly inappropriate in a work context.

“When asked if there was any reason he had sent them, he said that if he was aware members of staff had been adversely affected, he would have stopped it.

“He has received training in adult and child protection,” Ms Torrance added. “He should know that people who are subject to abuse do not always speak out about it.”

When the offences occurred in 2009, Cullen was working for the local authority’s older persons and physical disabilities team.

Based in the Castlemilk area of Glasgow, he was in charge of care plans for some of the city’s most needy pensioners.

But he repeatedly failed to complete paperwork relating to his case-load and delayed essential reviews into care packages – which could have had potentially devastating results for vulnerable service users.

He also admitted providing assistance on an ad hoc basis to a member of the public who did not receive social work services from Glasgow City Council, despite receiving a final written warning not to do so.