A support worker with Cardiff Women’s Aid was sacked for gross misconduct after embarking on a lesbian relationship with a vulnerable client.
Cardiff Women’s Aid confirmed the dismissal after the father of the child at the centre of the custody dispute called for an investigation into the handling of the case by Cardiff council’s children’s services department.
In a formal complaint to the council, the father – who cannot be named for legal reasons – claims that false evidence was concocted against him by the mother, an alleged drug abuser who has offered sexual services on the internet, with the help of the support worker.
He says that as a result it took him more than two years to win custody of the child.
Plaid Cymru councillor Neil McEvoy, who has been advising the father, endorsed his call for an inquiry, claiming the case backed up his belief that organisations like Cardiff Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid supported and helped clients who make false allegations.
He said: “The cold, hard facts of this case are that a mother with class A drug problems, a history of violence, in a relationship with a Cardiff Women’s Aid support worker, was supported with taxpayers’ money to fight for unsupervised access to a child who it was alleged had been physically abused while in her care, with no investigation having been undertaken by Cardiff children’s services.”
Morgan Fackrell, chief executive of Cardiff Women’s Aid, said: “Cardiff Women’s Aid has strict policies in place to protect service users and staff. Furthermore CWA considers any crossing of professional boundaries between its staff and its services users as a matter of gross misconduct and when necessary CWA has acted quickly and resolutely to address such behaviour.
“CWA has had to dismiss a member of staff for such gross misconduct and as an organisation we expect the highest ethical behaviour for our staff. Cardiff Women’s Aid exists to support women and children who are on a journey of recovery from abusive and violent relationships.
“We do not collude with women, nor would we ever encourage them, to make false claims about their experience.
“We absolutely refute the allegations that we collude with women to ‘concoct false allegations’.
“Cardiff Women’s Aid is working to end all violence and abuse within relationships and does not condone domestic violence in any form whoever the perpetrator may be. Cardiff Women’s Aid works every day with women and children who have experienced and are trying to escape violent and abusive relationships and we make no apology for being expert advocates on their behalf. I am disappointed that a formal complaint has never been brought to this organisation and as such we have not had the opportunity to test the evidence about false allegations that the complainant is relying on.
Paula Hardy, chief executive of Welsh Women’s Aid, the umbrella body for women’s aid groups in Wales, said: “Welsh Women’s Aid is satisfied that any practice relating to inappropriate professional boundaries with our membership would be taken seriously resulting in appropriate disciplinary action, including resulting in dismissal.
“It is deeply concerning for it to be implied that WWA would actively encourage our members to advocate that women should lie about their personal experiences and encourage women to lie in court or break court orders. Too many women experience domestic abuse with most cases going unreported to the police, there is nothing to gain from encouraging women to lie.
“Last year over 1,244 women and 952 children experiencing domestic abuse were supported in refuges across Wales by our members.”
A Cardiff council spokeswoman said: “Any complaints received by the director of children’s services will receive a response within 10 working days, in keeping with council policy.
“The details relating to complaints are, for obvious reasons confidential, and it is not the policy of the council to divulge this or any other personal information concerning individual members of the public or their children.”
SOURCE: Wales Online