Mr Lawrence Matenga

Profession: Social worker

Registration Number: SW107094

Interim Order: Imposed on 29 Aug 2017

Hearing Type: Final Hearing

Date and Time of hearing: 10:00 20/11/2019 End: 17:00 22/11/2019

Location: Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service, 405 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT

Panel: Conduct and Competence Committee
Outcome: Struck off

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Allegation

(as amended on day 1 of the hearing, namely, 28 August 2019)

On 29 May 2017, whilst employed as a registered Social Worker with Kent County Council, you:

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:

a) attended Service User A’s house;

i. between approximately midnight to 1am; and,
ii. asked to sleep there.

b) After being admitted to Service User A’s home:

i. Touched Service User A inappropriately on the breast(s) and/or thigh(s);
ii. Asked Service Use A for sex and/or attempted to have sex with Service User A.

2. Your actions described at particulars 1(a), 1(a)(i), 1(a)(ii), 1(b)(i) and/or 1(b)(ii) were sexually motivated.

3. Your actions described at particulars 1 and/or 2 constitute misconduct.

4. By reason of your misconduct, your fitness to practise is impaired.

 

Finding

Preliminary Matters:

Decision on amendment of the Allegation

1. The Panel received an application from the HCPC to amend the Allegation in three respects.

2. First, the insertion within the stem of the Allegation the words ‘or around’ between ‘On’ and ‘29 May 2017’. It was argued that this covered the potential for a discrepancy in the timings recorded, such that they might cast doubt on whether the events had occurred before midnight and therefore take matters into the preceding day.

3. Secondly, the insertion, within limb 1(a), of the words ‘between approximately midnight to 1am;’ between ‘house’ and ‘and’. This was to reflect the evidence presented to the Panel on the timing of the Registrant’s arrival as referred to in the evidence of the HCPC’s witness, Service User A (SUA).

4. Thirdly, the deletion at 1(a) of the words ‘and asked to sleep there’. It was the HCPC case that this was not part of the evidence collected and presented by the HCPC following the interview with SUA. It was stated that this is evidence which is being presented by the Registrant and is the reason he has given for attending the house. 

5. The Registrant’s representative, Ms Shah raised no objection to the first two amendments. In relation to the deletion of ‘and asked to sleep there’ in limb 1(a), it was argued that this has not so far been an issue in dispute between the parties and to remove it at this late stage was prejudicial to the Registrant. It had been accepted during the employer disciplinary process that the Registrant had sought a place to sleep, and whilst the evidence of this does not come directly from the HCPC witness, there is evidence before the Panel to support this position in the form of the statements prepared at a later date by the attending police officers.

6. Ms Hollos, on behalf of the HCPC, maintained that the police officers’ statements were not part of the HCPC evidence and had been part of the unused material supplied to Ms Shah. It was not part of the HCPC’s case and the onus was on the HCPC at the fact finding stage in the proceedings.

7. Ms Shah maintained that the deletion of these words would cause prejudice to her client. He was out of the country and had therefore not had the opportunity to collect further evidence from third parties of his position on this. She drew the Panel’s attention to the evidence of the first 999 call, and the police reports, which both record that this statement was made that he had gone there to sleep and this had been accepted as the true position. She maintained that this amendment should not be accepted.

8. The Panel accepted legal advice, which included reference to the case of Ireland and Ma -v- HCPC [2015] in which it was stated (obiter) that a panel of the Conduct and Competence committee had no statutory power to make substantial amendments to an Allegation. The only basis on which substantial changes can be made to what is alleged rested with the Investigating Committee. There was, however, a common law power to amend on three bases which are, first, the merits of the case, secondly the fairness of the hearing, and thirdly whether the amendment would cause prejudice to the Registrant. The amendments must not therefore change or extend the substance of what is alleged. Amendments of this minor nature are generally for further and better clarification of what is alleged.

9. The Panel accepted that the burden to prove the factual matters would lie on the HCPC. There was public interest in the timely and thorough prosecution of matters where it has been found that there is a case to answer. The Panel also appreciated that amendments should not be used by a Registrant as a means to undermine that public interest.

10. The Panel accepted the first two amendments of insertions into the stem and particular 1(a).

11. Turning to the third amendment, the deletion, the Panel considered that the Registrant’s reasons for being at SUA’s house was not the mischief which this provision sought to address. The inclusion of the wording ‘asked to sleep there’, which the HCPC evidence may not be able to support, should not be relied on or used to detract from the mischief of attending the service user’s house without permission.

12. The Panel noted that the Registrant and his representative had been on notice of these proposed changes since 21 March 2019, some five months ago. It was not therefore correct for Ms Shah to suggest that the HCPC was, at this late stage, seeking to change the basis on which the HCPC would present its case. The Panel noted that the Registrant considered that the proposed deletion would cause him prejudice, in that this apparently innocent reason was the purpose of his visit to the property.

13. The Panel considered that the mischief of the Allegation should remain at the core of the particular and should not be linked to the Registrant’s stated position. The Panel also appreciated that the reasonable concerns of the Registrant should also be properly taken into account in any amendment. The Panel has therefore amended the wording to reflect the HCPC and Registrant’s positions whilst maintaining the public interest in this matter being pursued in a fair and balanced way.

14. The Panel has amended the particular to read as follows:

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:

(a) attended Service User A’s house;

(i) between approximately midnight to 1am; and,
(ii) asked to sleep there.

Response to the Allegation

15. Ms Shah, on behalf of the Registrant, admitted the stem of the Allegation and the matters set out in the limbs 1(a)(i) and 1(a)(ii).

16. There was denial of the matters set out in particulars 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(ii) and 2.

17. There was acceptance of misconduct on the matters admitted, but not on those denied.

18. Until there had been a finding of fact, there was no response made to particular 4.

Procedural and further evidence

19. There is a conflict of factual evidence between the SUA and the Registrant. It was therefore agreed it would be appropriate in this case for the Panel to receive evidence, and make a finding of fact, before, and separate from, consideration of the issues of misconduct and fitness to practise.

20. Before the close of the Registrant’s case Ms Shah made an application to admit live evidence from two further witnesses. This application was made at this late stage as it had become apparent, during the Registrant’s evidence, that supportive evidence, on small discrete areas of fact, had increased in their significance and importance and should therefore be placed before the Panel.

21. The application was to admit evidence from the Registrant’s wife, AM, and a former work colleague and friend, CC. Both were required to give evidence relating to the discovery that the Registrant had left Maidstone for his home in Ramsgate without his house keys.

22. It was argued that it was in fairness to the Registrant that this information be produced. The Registrant’s wife would be able to give evidence about the circumstance in which the keys came into her possession and when; whether the Registrant was aware that she had taken the house keys; and when she had discovered that she still had the keys after her husband had left. CC would be able to give evidence about the detail of when and why he was making calls to the Registrant in the early hours of the morning of the 29 May 2017.  The issue of the house keys had been a matter on which the Panel had spent some time questioning the Registrant. It was argued that having further clarification and further answers on those points would be relevant. These pieces of evidence would also go to the issue of the credibility of the Registrant’s account of events and his claim that he needed to find somewhere to sleep. It was a matter of fairness that the Registrant be able to provide this corroborative evidence.

23. Ms Hollos strenuously opposed this application on the basis that the application had been made very late. In this regard she drew the Panel’s attention to the chronology of this matter and the fact that this further witness evidence could have been sought at a much earlier date. Whilst it was accepted that the Registrant had not been legally represented initially, solicitors had been on record since 31 July 2019, which was sufficient time for this issue of further witness evidence to be identified and addressed. Secondly, the issues on which these two witnesses could provide evidence could be described, at best, as tangential. Neither of these witnesses would be able to give any direct evidence of the events which are covered in particular 1 (a) or 1(b).

24. The Panel accepted legal advice on this issue. It appreciated that it could admit evidence beyond those allowed under the civil evidence rules if it was in order ‘to protect the public’. It also appreciated that all hearings should be fair and balanced. The Panel noted the submissions of both parties and after careful consideration the Panel granted the application as it considered not to do so, would be prejudicial to the Registrant.

25. The taking of evidence by audio and video link or with the assistance of an interpreter had taken some time. The Panel was concerned that it may, as a result, be forced to adjourn before making a determination on the facts. To assist the Panel, the parties committed their submissions to writing and the Legal Assessor prepared her advice in advance and consulted the parties to establish whether there were any objections or concerns arising from the advice. The parties’ submissions and the Legal Assessor’s advice were read into the transcript.

Background:

26. The Registrant was a registered Social Worker employed by Kent County Council (‘KCC’) at the time of the incident. He lived at that time in Ramsgate and worked in Margate, which is also where SUA lived. It is alleged that he visited the home of ex-service user SUA in the early hours of Monday 29 May 2017, a public bank holiday. The SUA subsequently called the police who asked to the Registrant to leave SUA’s property. As set out in the Allegation, SUA further alleged that the Registrant tried to initiate sexual contact with her and touched her inappropriately.

27. On Tuesday 30 May 2017, KCC’s Local Authority Designated Officer, Elaine Coutts, received a report of this incident from the Police.

28. An internal investigation was undertaken, and an Investigation Report completed on 28 June 2017.

29. The matter was then referred to the HCPC on 4 August 2017.

Evidence:

30. The documentation placed before the Panel included:

• Sworn statements from five witnesses.
• A Crime Report Print which included entries of the telephone calls SUA made to the emergency services in the early hours of 29 May 2017 and notes of the subsequent investigation of this incident.
• The summary notes of KCC interviews conducted with the Registrant by JE on 31 May 2017, and SV on 14 June 2017.
• A copy of the KCC Investigation Report prepared by SV dated 28 June 2017.
• Statements, prepared in August 2017, by the two attending police officers – presented by Ms Shah from the unused material.

31. The Panel heard live evidence from five witnesses. The HCPC case relied upon the live evidence of the SUA and one other witness. The Registrant’s case relied on live evidence from the Registrant and two other witnesses.

HCPC witness evidence

32. SV, a registered Social Worker, employed by KCC had been requested to undertake the investigation following the receipt of the notification email from the Police on 30 May 2017. It was noted that the Registrant had been SUA’s allocated Social Worker from March 2016, but that the case had been closed in September 2016.

33. SV stated that the extent of her investigation had been defined by senior managers. It did not involve her meeting with SUA or undertaking any review of this service user’s file. SV therefore had no information relating to the degree of vulnerability of this service user and her family, who had been the subject of domestic violence and neglect. SV did not have any information as to how the events of the 29 May 2017 may have impacted on SUA.

34. SV told the Panel that she had accepted the Registrant’s strong denials of any inappropriate contact with SUA without further investigation. She confirmed that she was not aware that the Registrant had, without authority or reason, accessed the closed case records for SUA and her family at 08.38 hours on 30 May 2017.

35. SV confirmed that the Registrant’s email of 28 June 2017, with his comments on the summary notes of the Investigation Meeting Interview undertaken on 14 June 2017, had not been incorporated into the notes of that interview that were before the Panel. The notes of the 14 June 2017 meeting, and the Registrant’s emailed response, had been attached to her Investigation Report as Appendices C and D.

36. SUA gave oral evidence. She was assisted by an interpreter. During her evidence she chose to speak in Portuguese and rarely resorted to using English. She was clearly distressed when recounting the events of the evening of 29 May 2017.

37. She confirmed that she had been home alone with her children and they and she had been asleep when the intercom bell had been rung persistently. She thought that it was late, somewhere between midnight and 1am. The ringing on the intercom was followed by banging on the door and then tapping on the window of her living room, a window that can be reached by someone standing by the main door to the building. She had drawn back her curtain and had seen the Registrant. He was gesticulating to let him in. SUA had panicked as she had immediately assumed that there was an emergency, a problem with the children; and she let him in while still in her night clothes.

38. She recalled that when the Registrant came into her home, he had sat down at her dining table and said nothing. She was most anxious that he was there, as she had heard stories of Social Services taking children away in the night. She had assumed that his visit was only in connection with the wellbeing of her children. So she started to explain that she had bought more things for her home since he had last visited. She was concerned that he was not saying anything. She was very certain that he never asked if he could sleep at the house. She said that she had been keen to show the Registrant how things had improved and to demonstrate that the children were well, and well looked after, so she guided him to the door of her children’s room and turned on the light so that he could see them sleeping.

39. She told the Panel that it was when she and the Registrant had been in the narrow passageway that runs between her bedroom and her children’s room that the Registrant had indicated that he had come to see her, not the children. He had pushed himself against her, initially touching her body through her clothing but then pressing his hands inside the material and touching her breasts and running his hands all over her body. He had repeatedly tried to kiss her and was saying that he wanted sex. She had told him to stop. He had pushed her into her bedroom and pinned her to the bed with the weight of his body. He kept touching her inappropriately and had repeated his requests for sex. SUA became very distressed when recounting these events during her evidence.

40. She told the Panel that she had made a grab for her mobile phone but had dropped it. She had then managed to get out from under the Registrant and go to the living room. She had turned the kettle on to have a distracting noise which would cover her actions. She left the flat and went next door to her neighbours, whom she considered might be able to explain to the Registrant that he had to leave. The neighbours had not answered the door so she went back into the flat and used her landline to contact the emergency services. The Panel had before it on the Crime Report Print notes which show that the initial 999 call was made at 02.02hrs on 29 May 2017 but had been routed to the ambulance service who eventually got the police involved. A police incident report was created at 02.06.25 hours on 29 May 2017. SUA’s contact with the Police is recorded as ‘there is somebody in there haome [sic] wanting sex’ and a request ‘send please’. There is then a further record of SUA, who is noted to be speaking in a whisper, saying that ‘The SS man is there wanting sex’.

41. During her oral evidence, SUA became particularly agitated and upset when she was directed to the statements that had been made after the event in August 2017 by the two police officers who had attended the house. She was emphatic that these statements did not truthfully reflect the situation. This was the first time that SUA had seen these two statements. She said it was ‘shameful’. She said she had been taken to one side into her children’s bedroom by a Police Officer whilst the other had gone through to the Registrant who was in her bedroom. The officers were not interested in what she had to say, and they had not asked her anything. She had heard the Registrant talking to the Police officer but not what was being said.

42. The Police had shown the Registrant out of SUA’s house. She told the Panel that she had been crying, distressed and very upset. She believed that having alerted the Police to what had happened they would be taking her complaints forward including with KCC. It was some months later that she went to the Police on 27 July 2017 to find out what was happening and repeated her account of events.
Registrant’s witnesses’ evidence

43. The Registrant gave his evidence by way of Skype video link.

44. He told the Panel that he had set off from Maidstone to his home in Ramsgate unaware that he did not have his house keys. He said that he had taken a wrong turning and so had driven to Ramsgate via Dover rather than via Canterbury. He emphasised that he had been very tired and had to stop several times on route to ‘refresh himself’. He told the Panel that even though he was only a little way from his home, he had stopped at a service station in Ramsgate as he was too tired to continue and needed a drink of water.

45. He said that he had no way of knowing the exact time he had stopped at this service station as there was no clock in the car and his mobile phone was not working as the battery was by then rundown. He said this was when he discovered that he did not have his house keys. He therefore realised that he had to find somewhere to sleep. He said that he had initially tried sleeping in his car in a car park but as he is a large man, he had found this uncomfortable. Further, he said that he was also anxious about sleeping in his car as the lock on his car was not working and he had heard of recent local stabbings. He said that he did not consider seeking a hotel bed as this was a luxury and said that in any event he did have any money in his bank account to pay for it. He stated that he knew no one locally who would be able to give him somewhere to sleep.

46. He said that he remembered that SUA lived in Margate and that although he had 80 to 100 other service users in that area, she was the only one of whom he thought. He drove from Ramsgate to see if she would allow him to stay. He explained to the Panel that in Zimbabwe it was acceptable for a Social Worker to continue to have contact with ex-service users. He had not at that time understood that it was inappropriate for him to go and see this ex-service user. He also stated that culturally it was acceptable in his country to stay in touch with ex-service users and that also, if in need, it was acceptable to ask a member of your community for help.

47. He said that when he arrived at SUA’s house, he had rung the intercom. He denied that he had knocked on the door or tapped on the window. He said that after ringing the intercom bell SUA had pulled back the curtain and looked out to see who it was. He said that SUA had then spoken to him over the intercom and had let him in after he had asked if he could sleep there.

48. He told the Panel that when he was let in to the flat he and SUA had sat opposite each other at the dining room table. He told the Panel that she had been talking freely including asking him questions about his family which he had not answered because he was not interested and was tired. He denied the evidence of SUA that he sat there in silence or that he had been shown the children sleeping.

49. The Registrant said that he was shown to a spare bedroom by SUA. He was clear in his denial that there had not been any sexual motivation in his visit to SUA and that he had not touched SUA.

50. He told the Panel that he had been asleep in the spare room when he was woken by a Police Officer. He had provided the Police Officer with a bank card to prove who he was. He had not any other identification on him. The police told him that it was inappropriate to be in SUA’s flat when he had been her Social Worker.

51. AM (who is married to Mr Matenga, the Registrant) gave evidence by telephone from abroad. The witness was willing to give her evidence by video link, and arrangements had been put in place to enable this, but due to technical problems this was not possible.

52. AM told the Panel that she and the Registrant had left Ramsgate with one set of keys on the 28 May 2017. She had gone with the Registrant on the trip to London. Whilst the car had been parked on a street in London, she had taken the car keys, gone to the car, unlocked it, and taken the house key, receipts and money from the console in the car and placed them in her handbag. She confirmed that she had not had any problem unlocking or re-locking the car.

53. On the way back to Kent she and the Registrant had stopped at the house of one of the Registrant’s colleagues, a long-standing friend, CC. Her recollection was that they had arrived at about 6pm. Whilst there, she had decided to go on an outing with CC’s wife the next day and so would stay the night at CC’s house whilst the Registrant would return home to Ramsgate that night.

54. She had discovered that she had the house keys when she took something from her bag some 30 to 45 minutes after the Registrant had left to drive home to Ramsgate which she thought was at about 11pm. She confirmed that CC had rung the Registrant whilst she was considering with CC’s wife the practical options of how to deal with this situation.  She told the Panel that attempts to contact the Registrant had failed and it was not until the next morning she spoke to him. She confirmed that she had spoken to the Registrant at about 7am, before getting on a train at or around 8am at Maidstone East on a train to Ramsgate. She recalled getting to Ramsgate about 10am.

55. The Panel heard from CC that he thought the Registrant and his wife had arrived at his house in Maidstone about 3 or 4pm on Sunday 28 May 2017 and the Registrant had left at about midnight. His recollection was that AM had found that she had the Registrant’s house keys about 20 minutes after he had left CC’s home. He confirmed that he had begun to ring the Registrant’s mobile number using his own mobile phone at 00.57hrs on 29 May 2017. He said that he had been the one to call the Registrant as AM did not have sufficient call time left on her mobile telephone. He told the Panel that the first two calls, both at 00.57hrs, to the Registrant’s phone had rung before going to voicemail. His subsequent calls at 01.30hrs and 08.50hrs had then gone straight to voicemail. He confirmed that he had not been able to make contact with the Registrant that night.

Facts:

56. The Panel appreciated that the burden of proof at this fact-finding stage is upon the HCPC and that the Registrant does not have to prove or disprove anything. In reaching its decisions on the facts the Panel has taken into account the documentary evidence, the representations of both parties’ and the advice of the Legal Assessor. In doing this the Panel has assessed and weighed all the evidence.

57. The Panel noted the admissions made by the Registrant to the matters identified in particular 1(a)(i)-(ii) and appreciated that this is not to be taken as definitely proved. It is for the Panel to test the evidence presented by the HCPC on those matters which have been admitted and establish whether it reaches the requisite standard, which is the civil standard of balance of probabilities.

Panel’s Assessment of the Witnesses

SV

58. It was useful to hear in person from SV, but the Panel was unable to place much weight on her testimony and Investigation Report as it only confirmed matters that are not in contention and had been admitted and did not address the matters denied.

SUA

59. The Panel was aware that SUA’s complaints had not been taken forward by the Crown Prosecution Service due to insufficient evidence. It noted that within the Police Crime Report Print there are the following observations:

Observation by DI Cooper 2 October 2017

‘It is clear that the initial call to the police makes an Allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour by the ex SW [Social Worker]
When the victim came to the Police station it is recorded that it was difficult to get the victim to verbalise the sexual nature of the Allegation. There may have been reasons for this such as shyness?or lack of understanding. She may not have alleged to the two male uniformed officers due to her own inhibitions or cultural reasons’.
Following a further a review of this case by DI Cooper on 13 October 2017 led to the following note on the Crime Report Print

‘I have now heard 5 x audio recordings and feel that they significantly support the victim in her assertion that she has told police that she was sexually approached/assaulted. The confusion may be due to lack of understanding due to language or accent. This matter needs to progress to the CPS with the audio evidence to support.’

These statements support SUA’s Allegation of sexual assault.

60. SUA’s evidence to the Panel was broadly consistent with her sworn statement. The Panel noted that this sworn statement was the first occasion that SUA had been asked to record her account of events. The Panel considered SUA to be a credible witness. Her account given in live testimony had been cogent and compelling. The Panel noted that there had been reported variations as to whether she wished to pursue the sexual assault matters. However, the Panel considered these could be accounted for by concerns about the outcome of her actions and her difficulties with language. At times she had apparently been unable to recall fully the detail, but she had remained consistent in evidence on the key points of her account of events. Ms Shah suggested that SUA had fabricated her evidence in order ‘to get back at social services’. The Panel, however, believed SUA’s denial as she explained to the Panel that she was  grateful for social services who had in her words ‘saved’ her.

Registrant

61. The Panel considered the Registrant to lack credibility. His evidence had changed in a number of material ways over time. When asked questions the Registrant had often added new detail which had not been presented previously. He had been inconsistent in his explanation about the house keys. When interviewed by the police on the night, he stated that his house keys were in London. When interviewed by Jacqui Everingham he stated that he had given his wife the house keys when he left her in Maidstone. He then told SV that he noticed he had not got his house keys whilst travelling. In his written statement for this hearing he said that it was when he was near his home he discovered his keys were missing. The Panel had further difficulty in accepting parts of his evidence. At a time when he claimed that he was still unaware that his house keys were missing, the Panel could not find any reason for going to a service station in Ramsgate for rest and water when he was so near to his home. His evidence was that his car had a problem with the locking system for months and so he felt unsafe staying in his car. However his wife had confirmed that earlier that day that she had had no difficulty unlocking and re-locking the car.

62. The Panel had difficulty accepting why the Registrant did not at the time appear to consider the options available to him in Ramsgate such as bed and breakfast, asking in the service station for his mobile phone to be charged or to sleep in his own car outside his own home or seek the help of a neighbour. Instead, he decided in favour of driving to Margate to the SUA who had no spare room and with whom he had had no direct contact for 8 months. There were other contacts potentially far more suitable than SUA to seek a place to sleep. His explanation of why he had suddenly thought of SUA as the place to go lacked credibility. The Registrant had embroidered his evidence on many occasions. When he was pressed for detail he provided further fresh information. For example, when he gave evidence about sitting at a table with SUA in her home, for the first time at this hearing he introduced the fresh information that she had chosen to ask him about his personal life.

63. The Registrant gave no cogent reason for checking SUA’s file the on 30 May 2017 and none as to why he had not reported the middle of the night visit to an ex-service user to his line manager at KCC. On this issue he had changed his evidence. In his interview with SV, he said that he had been advised by colleague T to report the matter and this was noted in the notes of interview. However, in his oral evidence to this Panel, he said that his colleague T had told him it was not necessary to report it. Another matter on which he had changed his position was on the accuracy of the interview notes and the corrections to those notes. The Panel noted the Registrant’s change in demeanour when dealing with difficult questions: he showed a degree of physical discomfort.
AM

64. Her evidence was delivered by audio link therefore the Panel had no means of assessing her physical demeanour. Notwithstanding the allowance for any delays in transmission the Panel noted the prolonged periods of hesitation before answers were given to questions beyond those dealt with in her statement or that required clarification. Her evidence had provided the Panel with the reasons why she had the house keys and the reason why she had not been the person who telephoned her husband when she found the house keys in her bag. Of particular note was her evidence that on this day she had no problem with the unlocking and re-locking the car.
CC

65. CC gave his evidence via Skype in an open and straightforward manner and gave helpful information about the time and nature of his attempted mobile telephone calls to the Registrant. His evidence helped the Panel establish the timeline of when the Registrant’s mobile phone had run out of battery. According to the Registrant at Ramsgate service station there was only 1% of battery left. From the timing of CC’s attempted phone calls when he heard ringing tones at 00.57hrs but was directed immediately to voicemail at 01.30hrs, it can be inferred that the battery must have run out between 01.00hrs and 01.30hrs.
Police evidence

66. The Panel noted that these statements were not contemporaneous. The two statements prepared by the attending Police Officers formed part of CPS decision some months later not to prosecute. The Panel had no opportunity to cross examine the officers. Some statements seemed to be inaccurate, such as in relation to the existence of a spare bedroom at SUA’s home.  The fact that they do not comment on any problems with communication, something that features in other notes of police contact with SUA, is significant. Further these witness statements do not accord with the recorded exchange between these officers and their base on the day of the incident as recorded on the Crime Report Print. In the Crime Report Print, a Police Officer at SUA’s property is recorded as saying that ‘he had made a pass at her and would not take it any further.’
Stem of Allegation
On or around 29 May 2017, whilst employed as a registered Social Worker with Kent County Council, you:

67. There was no dispute that at the relevant time the Registrant was employed by Kent County Council.
Particular 1(a) – Found Proved

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:
(a) attended Service User A’s house;

68. The stem of this particular is accepted by both parties that attending a Service User’s home without any professional reason to do so is a breach of professional boundaries.
Particular 1(a)(i) – found proved

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:
(a) attended Service User A’s house;
i. between approximately midnight to 1am; and,

69. The Panel has accepted the evidence of AM, CC and the Registrant, that when he drove away from CC’s house a set of house keys, which had been in his car earlier that day, were then in his wife’s possession.

70. The Panel considered:

• The evidence of CC and AM about the time at which the Registrant left Maidstone;
• the length of the route to Ramsgate via Dover and onto Margate;
• the Registrant’s evidence that he had stopped several times on the route
• the Registrant’s evidence that at the Ramsgate service station his phone had ran out of battery, together with the timings of CC’s phone calls to the Registrant’s phone; and
• the Registrant’s attempt at the service station to sleep in his car.

Taking all this into account, the Panel concluded that it was unlikely that the Registrant had arrived at SUA’s house before 01.00hrs; and it could have been as late as 01.30hrs.

71. The evidence of SUA, the Police Crime Report Print reports, the two statements of the attending Police Officers, the Kent County Council investigation report and that of the Registrant is that he had gone to and gained access to SUA’s home in the early hours of 29 May 2017. There is no dispute and this particular is admitted.

72. The only uncertainly is in relation to the timing. The first clear evidence of when these events took place is from a recorded call to the ambulance service at 02.02hrs. In the Panel’s view this timing falls within the amendment of the Allegation which includes the word approximately.

Particular 1(a)(ii) – Not Proved

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:

(a) attended Service User A’s house;

ii. asked to sleep there.

73. Whilst the Registrant has admitted this limb of the particular, his evidence is disputed by the evidence of SUA whom the Panel found to be more credible. SUA did not accept that the Registrant had asked to enter in order to sleep there and a statement to this effect is not recorded anywhere other than coming from the Registrant himself.

Particular 1(b)(i) – Found Proved

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:

b) After being admitted to Service User A’s home:

i. Touched Service User A inappropriately on the breast(s) and/or thigh(s);

74. The Panel has accepted SUA’s evidence. She was consistent, cogent and credible when describing the details of the assault, including the touching of the breasts. Her non-verbal behaviour clearly brought back painful memories and whilst she didn’t specifically mention thighs she mentioned ‘bum’ and ‘vagina’. The Panel has taken into account her verbal and graphic physical indication of the extent of contact. They found her evidence in this regard compelling in the extent of the Registrant’s touching of her body and if, as she stated, he had touched her bum and vagina it may be inferred that there was also contact with her thighs.

Particular 1(b)(ii) – Found Proved

1. Did not maintain professional boundaries in that you:

b) After being admitted to Service User A’s home:

iii. Asked Service Use A for sex and/or attempted to have sex with Service User A.

75. The primary evidence to support this limb of the particular comes from the evidence of SUA when she stated that the Registrant said ‘I am not here for the children, I am here for you’ and her oral testimony in which she specifically stated that the Registrant had said words to the effect: ‘Sex, sex, baby, baby’. This is supported by the records of the telephone call to 999 in which SUA is recorded as saying ‘The SS man is there wanting sex’.

76. The evidence to support the Panel’s finding on this is within the contemporaneous records on the Crime Report Print ‘has he forced you to have sex with him’ to which she replied ‘Yes’. The Panel however notes that during this recorded telephone call there appeared to have been a degree of miscommunication and misunderstanding. SUA’s evidence was that the Registrant touched her inappropriately, tried to kiss her and forced her into a bedroom and onto a bed, where the weight of his body pinned her to the bed. The Panel judged that these actions are consistent with the preliminary stages of having sex. In other words the Registrant sought and attempted to have sex as stated in the limb of the Allegation.

Particular 2 in relation to Particular 1(a)(i)– Found Proved

2. Your actions described at particulars 1(a), 1(a)(i), 1(a)(ii), 1(b)(i) and/or 1(b)(ii) were sexually motivated.

77. The Panel has accepted the submissions of the parties and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the definition of sexual motivation as set out in the legislation and case law and this Panel has set out the Legal Assessor’s advice for clarity:

In determining what is sexual motivation the Sexual Offences Act 2003 has the following definitions:

• Section 77– for the purposes of Section 3
• Section 78 – Sexual assault – intentionally touching another person where the touching is sexual.
• Section 78 provides the following definition of the term ‘sexual’:

“For the purposes of this part, penetration, touching or any other activity is sexual if a reasonable person would consider that:

a) Whatever its circumstances or any person’s purpose in relation to it, it is because of its nature sexual; or

b) Because of its nature it may be sexual and because of its circumstances or the purpose of any person in relation to it (or both) it is sexual.”

• You have already been addressed by both parties on the following two cases:

A “sexual motive” was considered in Basson v GMC [2018] EWHC 505 (Admin) by Mostyn J, who held that conduct had a sexual motive if it was done either in pursuit of sexual gratification or in pursuit of a future sexual relationship. Although, sexual motivation is a finding of fact, it depends not on direct evidence but can be inferred from all the surrounding evidence.

The relevance of character evidence to the issue of sexual motivation was considered in Arunkalaivanan v GMC [2014] EWHC 873 (Admin). Amanda Yip QC observed at para. 51:

“While I would never compare any indecent assault to a ‘minor peculation’, what is alleged is a short assault which appeared to offer limited opportunity for sexual gratification before Mr Arun then rushed off to collect his child. It is inherently unlikely that he would risk an eminent career as an urogynaecologist on that basis. Having said that, the very nature of abuse of trust cases is that the perpetrator takes advantage of that unlikelihood. It therefore cannot be said that the fact Mr Arun had a lot to lose means that he was not sexually motivated.”

78. The Panel and the Ms Hollos closely questioned the Registrant as to what his thought process had been when he had discovered that he was without his house keys and had no useable mobile phone, whilst close to his home in a service station in Ramsgate. He was asked as to why he had not chosen options such as driving to his home to seek help from a neighbour. Although the Registrant has stated that in his culture you can ask anyone in your community for help, in reply to the question of seeking help from his neighbour, he used the reason that he was not close to anyone in the block of flats where he lived.

79. The Registrant had stated that because of his size he was uncomfortable sleeping in his car; and felt unsafe to do so in a roadway because the car could not be locked. When it was suggested to him that he may have felt safer sleeping in his driveway, he said it had not occurred to him. He said that he had not thought to try to charge his phone at the service station. Having not taken any of the available options in Ramsgate where he lived, the Registrant had not chosen to drive back to his friend’s house in Maidstone, nor had he chosen to go to the homes where any of the 80 to 100 current or ex-service users who lived in Margate. Any of these other addresses may have had a male as well as a female in residence, or a spare bedroom. The Panel had asked why he had chosen to go to this particular service user and he said ‘it was the first thing that came into my mind’. His varied explanation for his decision to drive some distance to this particular service user were neither credible nor compelling. 

Particular 2 in relation to Particular 1(a)(ii) – Not Proved

2. Your actions described at particulars 1(a), 1(a)(i), 1(a)(ii), 1(b)(i) and/or 1(b)(ii) were sexually motivated.

80.  The Panel has not found 1(a)(ii) so did not consider this.

Particular 2 in relation to Particular 1(b)(i) and 1(b)(ii) – Found Proved

81. There cannot be any reason other than sexual gratification for touching SUA at any time, and certainly not at that time at night, in her house, and alone with her children.

82. The fact fact that the Registrant intentionally chose to go to SUA’s house as opposed to many alternative courses, in the Panel’s view, is a premeditated action to seek some form of sexual gratification or satisfaction.

20 November 2019:

83. The Decision on Facts was handed down on 6 September 2019. The adjourned Final Hearing reconvened on 20 November 2019.

84. Ms Hollos and Ms Shah advised the Panel that they were content, at this stage to make submissions on misconduct, impairment and on sanction.  Having accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor, the Panel decided to allow this approach. 

85. The Panel also concluded that it was fair and appropriate to allow the Registrant to attend the hearing by video link as he had done previously, failing which, by telephone.

The Registrant’s Evidence

86. The Registrant attended. He provided a written reflection on professional boundaries together with three testimonials; and gave evidence via a Skype video-link.  He explained to the Panel that he accepted that the SUA would have been anxious and confused when he attended at her home. He explained that SUA was vulnerable and she would have felt a sense of victimisation, anxiety and distress which was totally understandable. He said he had not maintained a professional boundary between SUA and himself.  He said that whilst he accepted the Panel’s decision, he did not agree that he had acted in the way found proved and he had not been sexually motivated.

87. The Registrant said that the incident would have had a negative impact on the profession. He acknowledged that he ought not to have placed his personal issues ahead of those of SUA.  He said he could understand that his actions would undermine the reputation of the profession and he had learned from the experience and his mistake.  He accepted that he had crossed professional boundaries. The Registrant stated that his profession meant a lot to him and he had the skills to make a difference to people’s lives.

88. The Registrant stated that the incident was “unfortunate”.  He said he had reflected and that he had read about professional boundaries and that there should be no confusion of roles in his profession. He said he was now conscious of the power imbalance that can exist and this incident would never be repeated. He said he had reflected and learned from the incident.

89. The Registrant said that even in respect of former service users, it was appropriate to maintain professional boundaries.  He said many service users may have experienced trauma and it was his role to support them. The Registrant told the Panel that he had worked for less than two years in the UK as a Social Worker. 

90. Ms Hollos for the HCPC cross examined the Registrant.  He explained that he appreciated SUA was vulnerable as she was dealing with historical trauma. He said that he should have treated SUA with respect, dignity and care. He said that he did not show SUA respect when he went to her home. He said he was in crisis at the time but that it had been “his crisis” and he should not have gone to her home.

91. The Registrant told the Panel about the publications he had read on professional boundaries.  He said that he was intending to publish an article on the subject shortly. He told the Panel about his understanding of power imbalance and said he had previously overlooked that aspect of his professional role. He accepted that, in principle, it was never appropriate to do what the Panel had found he had done to SUA. When asked by Ms Shah, the Registrant declined to tell the Panel whether he was currently employed.

Submissions for the HCPC

92. Ms Hollos referred to her written submissions. She submitted that the Registrant’s actions amounted to misconduct and that his fitness to practise was currently impaired. She submitted that the Registrant’s conduct was egregious. He had breached the HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, standards 1.1, 1.7, 2.1, 2.2, 6.1, 6.2 and 9.1. He had also breached the Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers, standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 15.

93. Ms Hollos submitted that on both the personal and the public aspects there was a need to make a finding of impairment of fitness to practice.  She reminded the Panel about the Registrant’s distress at the incident and her evidence in that regard.  She submitted that the Registrant had caused SUA harm and there was a risk of repetition. Ms Hollos referred to CHRE v NMC & Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin), and submitted that the misconduct was so egregious that a finding of impairment was necessary. Ms Hollos submitted that no amount of insight and remediation could avoid such a finding.

94. Ms Hollos submitted that if the Panel required to consider sanction the HCPC was neutral. She reminded the Panel of the HCPC Sanctions Policy and referred to paragraphs 67- 70 on abuse of position; paragraphs 73 - 75 on vulnerable service users; and to paragraphs 76 and 77 on sexual misconduct.

Submissions for the Registrant

95. Ms Shah submitted that it was accepted the matters found proved amounted to misconduct. On the issue of impairment of fitness to practise, she submitted that the Registrant was not impaired on the personal component as he had shown insight into his misconduct. She submitted that it was not necessary for the Registrant to accept the Panel’s finding of facts in order to show insight. That was not a condition precedent for insight. Whilst the Registrant did not accept the more serious parts of the findings, he had nonetheless reflected and shown insight. He had described the issues of power imbalance and the need for professional boundaries, even with former service users.

96. Ms Shah submitted that there was no evidence that the Registrant had continued contact with SUA after his professional contact had ceased.  She submitted there was no persistent or deliberate conduct leading up to this incident.  It was an isolated incident in unusual circumstances. She submitted that the Registrant was a committed and well-regarded Social Worker. There had been no repetition of the misconduct; and there was a very low risk of such.

97. On the public interest component of impairment, the Registrant had given evidence that he appreciated that the reputation of the profession had been damaged by his conduct.

98. Ms Shah submitted that if a sanction was required, the Panel should impose a Suspension Order. She referred to the HCPC Sanctions Policy and asked the Panel to bear in mind that Striking Off was a sanction of last resort. She reminded the Panel that it must act proportionately.  She submitted that a Suspension Order would meet the public interest.  She submitted that if the Panel were to consider Striking Off, it should address the matters covered in paragraphs 130 and 131.  Ms Shah submitted that the misconduct had not been persistent and that Striking Off was likely to be appropriate where a Registrant was either unwilling to resolve the misconduct or lacked insight.   She reminded the Panel that the Registrant had done his best to engage with his regulator and the hearing process.

99. Furthermore, he had demonstrated a willingness to resolve matters. She submitted that there were some cultural differences between South Africa and England about social contact with former service users, but that the Registrant had made an effort in his reflections to address that.

Legal Advice

100. The Legal Assessor reminded the Panel that on misconduct, there was no burden of proof and that it was a matter for its own professional judgement. He referred to the guidance on misconduct in Roylance v GMC (No 2) [2001] 1 AC 311.

101. On the issue of impairment of fitness to practise, the Legal Assessor referred the Panel to the HCPTS Practice Note on Finding Fitness to Practise is Impaired, and to the guidance on the assessment of impairment and consideration of the public interest, in the case of CHRE v NMC & Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin). He reminded the Panel that it should consider the Registrant’s insight, remorse, any steps taken to remediate and the risk of repetition of the behaviour leading to the facts found proved. The Panel should at all times keep in the forefront of its mind the central importance of the need to protect the public and the wider public interest. The Legal Assessor advised the Panel that it was not necessary for the Registrant to accept all the findings of fact in order to demonstrate insight.

102. On Sanction, the Legal Assessor advised the Panel to consider the HCPC Sanctions Policy and that it should consider sanction in ascending order and apply the least restrictive sanction necessary to protect the public. It must act proportionately and should also consider any aggravating and mitigating factors.  The Panel should also be mindful of the wider public interest; the importance of maintaining public confidence in the profession; and upholding proper standards.

Decision on Grounds:

103. The Panel accepted the Legal Assessor’s advice and considered its findings of fact and the guidance on misconduct in Roylance.  The Panel exercised its own professional judgement. It noted that the Registrant accepted his actions amounted to misconduct.

104. The Panel found that the Registrant breached the following HCPC Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, standards 1.1, 1.7, 6.1, 6.2 and 9.1:

“1. Promote and protect the interests of service users and carers

1.1 - You must treat service users and carers as individuals, respecting
their privacy and dignity.

1.7 - You must keep your relationships with service users and carers
professional.

6. Manage risk

6.1 - You must take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of harm to
service users, carers and colleagues as far as possible.

6.2 - You must not do anything, or allow someone else to do anything, which could put the health or safety of a service user, carer or colleague at unacceptable risk.

9. Be honest and trustworthy

9.1 - You must make sure that your conduct justifies the public’s trust
and confidence in you and your profession.”

105. He also breached the following HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Social Workers 2.3, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 3.4, 5.1, 5.3, 5.4 and 15.1:

2. be able to practise within the legal and ethical boundaries of their profession.

2.3 - understand the need to protect, safeguard, promote and prioritise the wellbeing of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

2.6 - be able to exercise authority as a social worker within the
appropriate legal and ethical frameworks and boundaries

2.7 - understand the need to respect and so far as possible uphold, the rights, dignity, values and autonomy of every service user and carer.

2.8 - recognise that relationships with service users and carers should be based on respect and honesty.

2.9 - recognise the power dynamics in relationships with service users and carers, and be able to manage those dynamics appropriately.

3. be able to maintain fitness to practise

3.4 - be able to establish and maintain personal and professional boundaries

5. be aware of the impact of culture, equality and diversity on practice

5.1 - be able to reflect on and take account of the impact of inequality, disadvantage and discrimination on those who use social work services and their communities.

5.3 - be aware of the impact of their own values on practice with different groups of service users and carers

5.4 - understand the impact of different cultures and communities and how this affects the role of the social worker in supporting service users and carers

15. understand the need to establish and maintain a safe practice environment

15.1 - understand the need to maintain the safety of service users, carers and colleagues.”

106. The Panel has found that the Registrant sexually assaulted SUA, a vulnerable, former service user. He attended at her home uninvited during the middle of the night; he touched her inappropriately; and his actions were sexually motivated.  Whilst the incident was isolated, the Allegation found proved is very serious and breached fundamental tenets of the profession, namely trust and integrity. The Registrant’s misconduct involved an abuse of his professional position and breached professional boundaries.

107. The Panel concluded that such actions fall far below what would be proper in the circumstances; would be considered deplorable by fellow professionals; and amounted to misconduct. 

Decision on Impairment:

108. The Panel considered the HCPTS Practice Note on Impairment and was mindful of the guidance in CHRE v NMC & Grant [2011] EWHC 927 (Admin). It kept in the forefront of its mind the importance of the public interest and accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor.

109. The Panel found that in the Registrant’s evidence there was a notable lack of empathy for SUA. The Registrant stated that the incident was “unfortunate” and that he recognised SUA’s anxiety.   He appeared to seek to distance himself from any responsibility for the incident when, in fact, he was the instigator. The Panel found that the Registrant failed to take ownership of the incident and his own behaviour. In his evidence, the Registrant failed to recognise that he had exploited his knowledge of SUA, gained from his professional role, in the pursuit of his own sexual gratification. The Panel found he expressed very little remorse or regret for his actions; and he did not apologise.

110. The Panel found that the Registrant’s written reflections and his associated oral evidence lacked any substantive link to the events that had occurred. His explanations scarcely referred to the SUA herself whom he was aware was vulnerable. His reflections appeared to be more of an intellectual exercise for him, rather than exhibiting genuine appreciation and remorse for his abuse of professional boundaries and breach of trust. The Registrant failed to demonstrate insight into the sexual motivation found proved. The Panel noted that the Registrant did not accept part of the findings found proved, nor that his actions were sexually motivated.  The Panel accepts that he is entitled to do so. The Panel concluded that the Registrant appears to have developed some limited insight. However, it was largely academic and sanitised.

111. In light of his limited insight, the Panel found that the Registrant had taken insufficient steps to remediate his practice adequately. He accepted that, in principle, what had been found proved was behaviour that would never be acceptable for a Social Worker. He named a number of publications he had read on professional boundaries and power imbalance. To a limited extent, the Registrant appeared to understand these issues. However, the Registrant spoke in generalities.  He provided no evidence of any other steps he has taken towards remediation of his practice.

112. Although asked by Ms Shah, the Registrant declined to tell the Panel about his present employment position. As a result, the Panel know nothing of the Registrant’s present employment circumstances and any practical measures he has taken to remediate.
113. In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that there is a real risk of repetition of the behaviour leading to the Allegation.  The Registrant has in the past and is likely in the future, to place service users at unwarranted risk of harm.  The Registrant has in the past, and is likely in the future, to bring the profession into disrepute.  The Registrant has in the past, and is liable in the future to breach fundamental tenets of the profession

114. The Panel concluded that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired on the personal component.

115. The Panel considered the public component of impairment of fitness to practise.  The Panel noted that the Registrant accepted that the Panel may consider that he has brought the profession into disrepute. The Panel was mindful of its findings as to sexual motivation and the vulnerability of SUA. The Panel found that the Registrant sexually assaulted a vulnerable person, SUA. She was frightened and left scared, panicked and fearful for her children. She was fearful that the Registrant would rape her.

116. The Panel concluded that given the seriousness of its findings, a finding of impairment is clearly required in order to uphold and declare proper standards of behaviour and to maintain public confidence in the profession, and in the Regulator.

117. The Panel accordingly determined that on both the personal and the public component that the Registrant’s fitness to practise is currently impaired.

Decision on Sanction:

118. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor and it considered the submissions of Ms Hollos and Ms Shah.  It was mindful of the HCPC Sanctions Guidance. It also considered the testimonials and the reflective piece provided by the Registrant.

119. The Panel first identified what it considered to be mitigating and aggravating factors in this case. The mitigating features it identified were:-

a. The positive testimonials 

b. It was an isolated incident

c. The Registrant was relatively new to the UK and appeared to hold somewhat different cultural norms and values

120. The Panel found the following were aggravating features:-

a. Sexual motivation

b. Limited insight

c. A failure to express empathy for SUA

d. Limited remorse, regret and apology for his actions

e. Breach of trust and abuse of professional position

f. Actual harm caused to SUA

g. The vulnerability of SUA and history of domestic abuse, which was known to the Registrant

121. The Panel approached consideration of the sanction, beginning with the least restrictive first, bearing in mind the need for proportionality. The Panel determined that taking no further action and the sanction of a Caution Order would not reflect the nature and gravity of the Allegation found proved and the lack of insight and remediation. The Allegation is serious and was sexually motivated.  

122. Further, such orders would not be adequate or proportionate given the wider public interest in maintaining confidence in both the profession and the regulatory process. The Panel concluded that neither order is appropriate nor proportionate in the circumstances of this case.

123. The Panel next considered a Conditions of Practice Order. The Registrant has shown limited insight, remorse and remediation. The Registrant declined to tell the Panel about his current circumstances and employment. The Allegation found proved is very serious and was sexually motivated. The Registrant caused harm to SUA.  The Registrant presents a risk of repetition. 

124. The Panel concluded that in this case it was not possible to formulate Conditions of Practice that are realistic, reasonable, verifiable or appropriate. Conditions of Practice would not be sufficient or proportionate given the nature and gravity of the Allegation and would also fail to protect the public and maintain confidence in the profession or the regulator. 

125. The Panel next considered the imposition of a Suspension Order.  The Panel considered the HCPC Sanctions Guidance and in particular paragraph 121. The Panel has found the Registrant has limited insight and that there is a risk of repetition.  There was limited evidence of the Registrant acknowledging, understanding or remedying his behaviour.  The Registrant’s position on sexual motivation left the Panel with little or no evidence as to his ability or willingness to remedy his misconduct and the sexual mischief at the heart of the Allegation.

126. The Panel concluded that in the circumstances of this case a Suspension Order would not be sufficient or proportionate.  Further, a Suspension Order would fail to address adequately the public interest as it would not maintain confidence in the profession or the regulator; and it would fail to declare and uphold proper standards.

127. The Panel considered the Sanctions Guidance on imposing a Striking Off Order.  It was mindful of the guidance in paragraphs 130 and 131.  The Panel has found that the Registrant’s actions were serious and were deliberate.  It has found that he abused his professional position in respect of SUA, a vulnerable service user, and he sexually assaulted her.  She was harmed and was left distressed, scared and fearful for her family.  The Panel has found that the Registrant lacks insight into his conduct, which he does not accept was sexually motivated.

128. The Panel concluded that the nature and gravity of the Allegation coupled with the Registrant’s limited insight and remediation mean that a Striking Off Order is the only proportionate and appropriate sanction in this case.  The Panel decided that in all these circumstances, any lesser sanction would not protect the public and would undermine public confidence in the profession and in the regulatory process.

Order

Order: That the Registrar is directed to strike the name of Mr Lawrence Matenga from the Register on the date this order comes into effect. 

Notes

Interim Order:

Interim Order Application

1. In light of its findings on Sanction, the Panel next considered an application by Ms Hollos for an Interim Suspension Order to cover the appeal period before the Sanction becomes operative. Ms Shah opposed that application.  She submitted that this was an isolated incident, the Registrant had been new to the UK at the time and he was not in the jurisdiction.  She submitted that therefore an Interim Order was not necessary and was not in the public interest.

2. The Panel accepted the advice of the Legal Assessor who referred it to the HCPTS Practice Note on Interim Orders. He reminded the Panel that an interim order must be necessary to protect the public, or be otherwise in the public interest. The Panel must act proportionately and balance the interests of the Registrant with the need to protect the public. 

3. The Panel was mindful of its earlier findings.  The Panel had found that there is a risk of repetition.  The Registrant had not sufficiently addressed the findings of fact and he had demonstrated limited, insufficient insight.  As to the submission that the Registrant is outside the jurisdiction, the Panel do not know where the Registrant presently is.  It has no information about his current circumstances. The Registrant could return to the UK at any time.  In these circumstances, the Panel concluded that an interim order is necessary to protect the public in the appeal period.  Given the nature and gravity of the findings the Panel also concluded that it was appropriate to impose an Interim Order to maintain confidence in the profession and in the regulator and to uphold and declare proper standards.

4. The Panel decided that that it would be wholly incompatible with its earlier findings and with the Striking Off sanction imposed, to conclude that an Interim Suspension Order is not necessary for protection of the public or otherwise in the public interest. Accordingly, the Panel concluded that an Interim Suspension Order should be imposed on both public protection and public interest grounds. It determined that it is appropriate that the Interim Suspension Order be imposed for a period of 18 months to cover the appeal period.  When the appeal period expires this Interim Order will come to an end unless there has been an application to appeal.  If there is no appeal the Striking Off Order shall apply when the appeal period expires.

Hearing History

History of Hearings for Mr Lawrence Matenga

Date Panel Hearing type Outcomes / Status
20/11/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Struck off
08/10/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Hearing has not yet been held
16/07/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Final Hearing Adjourned
19/06/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
20/05/2019 Conduct and Competence Committee Interim Order Review Hearing has not yet been held
11/12/2018 Interim Order Review Interim Suspension
12/11/2018 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Adjourned
15/08/2018 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Conditions of Practice
18/05/2018 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Conditions of Practice
21/02/2018 Investigating committee Interim Order Review Interim Conditions of Practice