David W Ball

Profession: Practitioner psychologist

Registration Number: PYL27007

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 16/11/2015 End: 17:00 17/11/2015

Location: Health and Care Professions Council, Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London, SE11 4BU

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

While registered as a Practitioner Psychologist, in early 2012 you applied to become an

Associate with an independent practice, "Psychology Services", and in the course of that application, you:

 

1.     Presented a reference you claimed was written by Dr [G-MC], who did not know you

 

2.     Stated you were a member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, which was not true

 

3.     Claimed to have worked at the [G-MC] Counselling Centre in Enfield, which was not true

 

4.     Your actions described in 1, 2, and/or 3 were dishonest

 

5.     Each of the matters described in paragraphs 1-4 constitutes misconduct

 

6.     By reason of your misconduct your fitness to practise is impaired

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters

Service

 

1.     The Panel was aware that written Notice of these proceedings was posted by first class post to the Registrant at his registered address on 14 September 2015. The Panel was shown documents which established both the fact of the service and the identity of the Registrant’s registered address. In these circumstances, the Panel accepted that proper service of the Notice had been effected.

 

Proceeding in the absence of the Registrant.

 

2.     Ms Jones, on behalf of the HCPC, submitted that the Panel should consider the case in the absence of the Registrant.

 

3.     The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

4.     The Panel was aware that a decision to proceed in the absence of the Registrant was one to be taken with great caution. However, the Panel decided to proceed in the absence of the Registrant. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          Service of the appropriate Notice of this hearing has been properly effected;

 

·          The Registrant has stated by email and phone that by reason of health problems he will not be attending this hearing, but is seeking an adjournment;

 

·          There is no reason to suppose that an adjournment would result in the future attendance of the Registrant;

 

·          There is a public interest in proceeding;

 

·          The allegations relate to events that occurred in 2012 and it is desirable that these proceedings should be concluded as soon as fairness allows;

 

·          There is one witness presently in attendance and one witness currently in the United States, in respect of whom arrangements have been made to take his evidence today and by phone;

 

·          In all the circumstances, the absence of the Registrant should be treated as voluntary. The Panel will consider separately the application by the Registrant to adjourn this hearing.

Application to adjourn

 

5.     The Panel considered an application by the Registrant to adjourn this hearing on health grounds. This application was originally made by an email dated 24 October 2015. This application was supported by a document entitled “Statement of Fitness for Work for social security or statutory sick pay” dated 6 November 2015
(the statement). That document appears to be signed by a doctor, but the signature is illegible. It also contains the following statement: “you are not fit for work”. The period covered by the statement was 6 November 2015 to 20 November 2015. The document also included the following statement: “I will not need to assess your fitness to practise at the end of this period”.

 

6.     The Registrant’s application was further supported by a letter dated 13 November 2015 and signed on behalf of his GP. That letter included the following: “I confirm that I have been seeing this patient … and he feels that attending this hearing will make his [health] worse and would like it postponed until his [health is] more settled”. 

 

7.     The Panel heard and considered the submissions of Ms Jones and the advice of the Legal Assessor.

 

8.     The Panel decided to reject the Registrant’s application to adjourn the hearing, and to proceed with the hearing. The Panel concluded that the application was not well founded. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          The allegation dates back to 2012 and there is a public interest in determining this case as soon as can fairly be done;

 

·          The Registrant had made a similar application in April 2015 when a Panel then agreed to adjourn that hearing;

 

·          The letter dated 13 November 2015 merely stated that “he [the Registrant] feels that attending this hearing will make his [health] worse”. This does not indicate that the doctor supported that assessment and consequently there was no evidence which directly supported the present application;

 

·          The Registrant has not chosen to make any written representations as to the substance of the allegation. He has made no application to participate by phone. The Panel had not received any evidence that his health would preclude such actions, and he was able to speak to an employee of the HCPC by telephone;

 

·          There was no evidence as to when the Registrant would feel that “his [health is] more settled” or whether he would ever come to such a view;

 

·          A witness to be called by the HCPC to give oral evidence is presently in attendance and arrangements had been made to take oral evidence by phone from another witness. 

 

9.     In all the circumstances, the Panel concluded that this hearing should proceed.

 

Procedure

 

10.   The Panel decided to consider the facts, misconduct, and impairment as a single stage and then, if appropriate, to consider sanction separately.

 

Background

11.    In summary, the relevant background is as follows:

·          The Registrant is registered with the HCPC as a Practitioner Psychologist, specifically as a Counselling Psychologist;

 

·          On 13 February 2012, the Registrant applied for a post at “Psychology Associates” (PA), an independent practice, to be an Associate Psychologist completing expert witness work;

 

·          The Registrant provided two references for this post. One of those, namely Dr G-MC, was a Professor and Associate Chair of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. In respect of Dr G-MC, the Registrant provided a written reference which purported to come from that person and, subsequently, a completed pro forma which was also purported to be from the same referee;

 

·          In his CV, the Registrant also stated that he was an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) and that he had worked at the [G-MC] Counselling Centre in Enfield;

 

·          On enquiry made by Dr MT on behalf of PA, it was discovered that the reference purporting to come from Dr G-MC was fake, in that Dr G-MC had never met or worked with the Registrant and had not produced the reference which purported to come from him. Moreover, further enquiries established that the Registrant was neither registered with nor accredited by BACP.

 

Witnesses

 

12.   The Panel heard oral evidence from the following witnesses, who were called by the HCPC:

 

·          Dr MT is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the HCPC. At the time of the events that are the subject of the allegation against the Registrant, Dr MT was employed as a Clinical Lead for Child and Parenting (Clinical Psychologist) with PA. In that context, Dr MT handled the Registrant’s application to work with PA and, when concerns arose as to the accuracy of what the Registrant had said and supplied, had handled investigations into the underlying facts. She has made a written statement which is dated 10 March 2015;

 

·          Dr G-MC is, and at all material times was, employed as a Professor and Associate Chair of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Dr G-MC has made a written statement dated 25 March 2015. The Panel granted an application made by Ms Jones that Dr G-MC should give evidence by telephone. Dr G-MC is presently in Chicago and the Panel, after having heard the submissions of Ms Jones on behalf of the HCPC and having heard the advice of the Legal Assessor, determined that there was no unfairness to the Registrant in allowing the evidence to be given in that way.

 

13.   The Panel regarded both these witnesses as credible and fair; their oral evidence was consistent with their written statements and was also consistent with relevant contemporaneous documents.

 

14.   In addition, the Panel had seen written statements from two persons, namely HH and AK, who, at the material times, had been employed by Kingsley Napley and had undertaken investigations as to whether the Registrant was registered with BACP and in related matters.

 

Bundle of documents

 

15.   The Panel considered a substantial bundle of documents and exhibits comprising 80 pages which was produced by the HCPC. This bundle contained contemporaneous documents relating to the allegations against the Registrant and documents which came into existence as part of the investigation. These documents include the documents which the Registrant submitted to PA in support of his application for employment with PA. Some of those documents are specifically referred to below.

 

Decision on Facts

16.   The Panel considered the submissions as to facts, misconduct and impairment made by Ms Jones on behalf of the HCPC.

 

17.   The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor as to facts, misconduct and impairment.

 

18.   The Panel was aware that on matters of fact (as distinct from issues of misconduct and impairment), the burden of proof rested on the HCPC and that the standard of proof was the civil one, namely on the balance of probabilities.

 

Particular 1 – proved

“Presented a reference you claimed was written by Dr [G-MC], who did not know you”

 

19.    The Panel found this particular proved. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          The Panel has seen a document which purports to be a reference signed by Dr G-MC in support of the Registrant’s application for employment with PA. The Panel was informed by Dr MT, and the Panel accepts, that this document was supplied to PA by the Registrant;

 

·          The Panel has heard the oral evidence of Dr G-MC. Dr G-MC told the Panel, and the Panel accepts, that he never wrote the reference which purports to bear his signature. Dr G-MC further stated, and the Panel accepts, that Dr G-MC has never met the Registrant, does not know him, has never worked with him and has never written any reference on his behalf. Dr G-MC stated in particular, and the Panel accepts, that he did not write the reference dated 7 March 2012 or the other document dated 7 March 2012, both of which purport to be written and signed by him and both of which appear in the bundle of documents produced by the HCPC and referred to above.

 

20.   On the basis of the above evidence, the Panel finds that on the balance of probabilities the HCPC has proved this particular.               

 

Particular 2 – proved

“Stated you were a member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, which was not true”

 

21.   The Panel found this particular proved. Its reasons are as follows:   

 

·          The Panel has seen the Curriculum Vitae (CV) submitted by the Registrant which expressly states under the heading “Professional Memberships” that he was an “Accredited Member of BACP/UK Register of Independent Counsellors and Psychotherapists”. This fact was also asserted at the commencement of the CV and in a separate summary prepared for PA;

 

·          The Panel has seen the written statements from witnesses HH and AK, which demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Panel that the Registrant was not at any material time registered with the BACP. This fact is supported by a number of documents that the Panel has seen, including screenshots from computerized registration systems showing that no such person was found.  

  

·          The Panel has accepted the evidence of Dr MT, who told the Panel that when she put to the Registrant that he was not registered with the BACP, “he said that he was actually registered with the UKCP.

 

22.   On the basis of the above evidence, the Panel finds that on the balance of probabilities the HCPC has proved this particular.               

 

Particular 3 – proved

“Claimed to have worked at the [G-MC] Counselling Centre in Enfield, which was not true”

 

23.   The Panel found this particular proved. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          The Panel has seen the CV submitted by the Registrant which expressly states that between May 1998 and June 2005 (part time) he worked at the [G-MC] Counselling Centre at Enfield” and gave a detailed account of the work done at that centre;

 

·          The Panel heard and accepted the oral evidence of Dr G-MC that he had never worked in the UK or had a professional base in this country and was unaware of a centre of this name, or indeed of any psychologist who shared his name. This latter statement was supported by a witness statement from AK, who had searched the HCPC register and could find no entry in the name of G-MC, and Dr MT, who could find no evidence of a [G-MC] Counselling Centre within the UK.

 

24.   On the basis of the above evidence, the Panel finds that on the balance of probabilities the HCPC has proved this particular.   

 

Particular 4 – proved

“Your actions described in 1, 2, and/or 3 were dishonest”

 

25.   The Panel found this allegation proved. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          The Panel accepted the evidence of Dr MT, who told the Panel that when she spoke to the Registrant on 14 May 2012, “and discussed my concerns directly with him, his response was “I need to go away and look into it” and that there “was no need to involve the HCPC”. I would describe [the Registrant] as sounding ‘flustered’”. This account was supported by Dr MT’s contemporaneous notes of the conversation;

 

·          The Panel concluded that the Registrant had deliberately misled PA as to his experience and qualifications and provided a reference which was not written by either, as claimed. This was done pre-meditatively and deliberately with an intent to deceive. He hoped thereby to induce PA to employ him when they might otherwise not have done so. The Panel concluded that these misrepresentations and supporting actions were dishonest.

 

26.   On the basis of the above evidence, the Panel finds that on the balance of probabilities the HCPC has proved this particular.   

 

 

Decision on Grounds

27.   The Panel proceeded to consider whether the matters found proved as set out above, namely particulars 1-4, amount to misconduct and, if so, whether by reason thereof the Registrant’s fitness to practice is thereby currently impaired;

 

28.   The Panel considered the submissions made by Ms Jones on behalf of the HCPC. She submitted that in respect of the matters found proved, they were sufficiently serious as to amount to misconduct and that by reason of that misconduct the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired.

 

29.   Ms Jones also submitted that the Registrant was in breach of the following provisions of the HCPC “Standards of Conduct, Performance, and Ethics” (2012):

 

                                  3            You must keep high standards of personal conduct

 

                                  13          You must behave with honesty and integrity and make sure that your behavior does not damage the public’s confidence in you or your profession

 

                                  14          You must make sure that any advertising you do is accurate

 

30.   The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

 

31.   The Panel was aware that any findings of misconduct and impairment were matters for the independent judgement of the Panel.

 

32.   The Panel was aware that consideration of impairment only arises in the event that the Panel judges that the proven facts do amount to misconduct, and that what has to be determined is current impairment.

 

33.   The Panel determined that the facts found proved under particulars 1-4 do amount to misconduct. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          The Registrant had deliberately and dishonestly misrepresented his qualifications and experience and provided a fake reference. He had done so with intent to deceive a prospective employer. This was serious in itself and especially serious having regard to the fact that the Registrant was seeking to work with PA as an expert court witness;

 

·          The Panel regarded the above conduct as being a serious departure from the standards of conduct to be expected from a Practitioner Psychologist registered with the HCPC.

Decision on Impairment

34.    In respect of particulars 1-4, the Panel has concluded that a finding of current impairment is necessary. Its reasons are as follows:

 

·          The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s conduct was dishonest, had brought his profession into disrepute and was a breach of fundamental tenets of that profession;

 

·          The Panel noted that the Registrant had shown no insight or contrition or in any way sought to explain his actions. The Panel concluded that there was a real risk of repetition;

 

·          The Panel further concluded that the need to uphold proper professional standards and public confidence in the profession of practitioner psychologists would be undermined if a finding of impairment was not made.

 

35.    For the reasons set out above, the Panel finds that by reason of the Registrant’s misconduct, his fitness to practise is currently impaired.

 

 

Decision on Sanction

 

36.   Ms Jones made submissions on behalf of the HCPC.

 

37.   The Panel heard and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

 

38.   The Panel kept in mind that the purpose of a sanction is not punitive but is designed to protect the public interest, which includes protecting members of the public from possible harm, maintaining proper standards within the profession, the reputation of the profession itself and public confidence in the regulatory functions of the HCPC.

 

39.   The Panel took into account the “Indicative Sanctions Policy” that has been published by the HCPC.

 

40.   In considering whether to make an order and the nature and duration of any order to be made, the Panel applied the principle of proportionality, weighing the Registrant’s interests in the balance with the need to protect the public interest.

 

41.   The Panel took into account any relevant mitigating and aggravating factors.

 

42.   In considering mitigating factors, the Panel took account of the information supplied by Ms Jones that there were no previous adverse findings against the Registrant. Whilst Ms Jones informed the Panel that there were two outstanding matters with the HCPC, one of which was currently with the Investigating Committee, the Panel did not think it right to place any weight on that fact. As the Registrant had not made any representations or supplied any relevant information, it was not possible to identify any other mitigating factors.

 

43.   However, the Panel also considered the following aggravating factors:

 

·          The Registrant was guilty of sustained dishonesty, in that information contained in his CV was false and he subsequently produced two documents purporting to be signed by Dr G-MC which were fraudulent. These false and misleading documents were intended to enable him to obtain work with PA;

 

·          The fact that the Registrant had used the name of Dr G-MC and falsely stated that he had worked with him. This could have caused reputational damage to Dr G-MC;

 

·          The Registrant’s actions could have prejudiced the integrity of legal proceedings in which he had acted as an expert witness and could have caused serious damage to service users;

 

·          The Registrant had not shown any insight or remorse or in any way engaged with the HCPC as regards the substance of the allegation.

 

44.   The Panel considered the sanctions available to it in ascending order of severity. In arriving at its decision, the Panel applied the principles that are set out in the Indicative Sanctions Policy.

 

45.   The Panel concluded that having regard to the facts that have been found proven, to take no further action would be wholly inappropriate. Such an outcome would provide no protection to prospective service users, would undermine confidence in the profession and in the regulatory functions of the HCPC and would not serve to maintain standards of conduct and performance within the profession.

 

46.   For the same reasons as those just expressed above with regard to taking no action, the Panel concluded that a Caution Order would also be inappropriate.

 

47.   The Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order was inappropriate. There are no conditions which are relevant, workable and proportionate that can properly be formulated which would address the identified failings of the Registrant – which are attitudinal in character – or would provide proper protection to the public. The Panel took account of the fact that the risk of repetition was real. Moreover, the Panel concluded that a Conditions of Practice Order would be insufficient to sustain professional standards or to maintain confidence in the profession. Furthermore, as the Panel has not received any information from or on behalf of the Registrant as to his present circumstances, it was not possible to formulate appropriate, workable and relevant conditions. 

 

48.    The Panel did not think that a Suspension Order would be an appropriate or sufficient sanction. In coming to this conclusion, the Panel considered that there was no evidence to suggest that the Registrant would be able to address or to remedy the attitudinal failings that have been revealed in this case. Moreover, the Panel concluded that the risk of repetition was high. In the opinion of the Panel, a Suspension Order would not provide sufficient protection for the public and would not safeguard the public interest.

 

49.   The Panel concluded that in all the circumstances of this case, and in particular having regard to the lack of insight and contrition and the risk of repetition, a Striking Off Order was the only way to protect the public. Such an Order was also necessary in order to deter others from providing false information in support of applications for employment and to ensure proper standards of behaviour within the profession.

 

Order

That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr David W Ball from the Register on the date this order comes into effect.

Notes

The order imposed today will apply from 15 December 2015.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for David W Ball

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
16/11/2015 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off