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Suffolk social worker is struck off for misconduct over false mileage claims

PUBLISHED: 11:43 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:13 12 May 2017

Suffolk County Council headquarters; Endeavour House, Ipswich.

Suffolk County Council headquarters; Endeavour House, Ipswich.

Archant

An experienced Suffolk social worker who obtained a “significant sum of money” at the taxpayers’ expense through false mileage claims has been struck off for misconduct.

Kerry Jane Barrett was shown in an audit report to have effectively claimed twice for the same journey on 108 occasions, as well as making separate claims on days when she was absent from work.

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) announced yesterday that it had ordered Ms Barrett to be struck off after failing to “demonstrate insight, remorse or remediation”.

A panel of the HCPC’s conduct and competence committee heard the false claims continued over a “prolonged period” and Ms Barrett tried to blame others after the issue was raised with her.

Concerns were first raised after Ms Barrett’s manager at Suffolk County Council, where she worked from 2009-2016, looked at her mileage claims.

He was said to be concerned “fraudulent claims” were being made and raised the matter with an investigating officer.

Following that investigation, a disciplinary hearing was scheduled for June 2015. However this did not happen as Ms Barrett was on long term sick leave and then resigned. The council referred it to the HCPC.

The panel heard an audit report showed 11 occasions when Ms Barrett claimed mileage when she was recorded as absent and 108 when she effectively claimed twice for the same journey.

Members found the false claims would be “considered dishonest by the standards of reasonable and honest people”.

The hearing was presented evidence showing Ms Barrett initially refused to hand over her diaries to her manager when the issue of her claims was first raised.

The panel found her submissions “full of prevarication and attempts to blame others for the situation she found herself in”.

Members were satisfied Ms Barrett realised what she was doing.

Panel chairman William Nelson said: “The panel has seen no evidence of insight or remorse and, despite her admissions to some of the facts, Ms Barrett does not accept responsibility for her actions.”

Ms Barrett was not present at the hearing, but was represented by Lily Robertson of the British Association of Social Workers.

Ms Barrett’s barrister said she continues to deny the allegations and will be appealing the decision.

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