Social worker who provided false reference to agency is suspended

HCPC suspends social worker who provided recruitment agency with false email address and reference

Published on 14th August 2017

The Health and Care Professions Council has suspended a social worker for dishonesty after he provided a false reference to a recruitment agency.

Muhammad Tahseen provided a recruitment agency with a false email address for a referee, and either provided the agency with a false reference from that address or asked someone else to provide it on his behalf.

Panel Chair Jacki Pearce commented: “Integrity and honesty are central to the requirements of a reliable and effective social worker, and any fair minded and fully informed member of the public would not expect a social worker against whom these serious findings have been made to be permitted to practise unrestricted.”

After working for some years as a social worker in Pakistan, Mr Tahseen studied on the Research in Health and Social Care MSc course at the University of Greenwich between 2010 and 2012. The Programme Leader in respect of that course was Dr. CM.  and contact between Mr Tahseen and Dr CM continued for the duration of his enrolment on the course, a period approximately two years.

In late February 2015, senior recruitment consultant Mrs CL, discovered a copy of Mr Tahseen’s CV on the internet and she made contact with him with a view to him registering with the recruitment company for which she worked. 

Mrs CL sent Mr Tahseen an application form which he returned, completed, and with a list of potential referees. Included in the list of referees was the name of Dr CM, together with an email address. 

Mrs CL sent the email to the email address provided but she immediately realised that, being a personal address, it was not an appropriate for an academic reference.  Accordingly she made an internet search and found Dr CM’s university address, and as a result, four minutes after sending the reference request to the disputed email address, she sent an identical request to Dr CM’s genuine university email address.

It was the genuine reference sent by Dr CM on 3 March 2015 that resulted in the discovery of the issues being considered by the HCPc Panel.

Providing evidence, Dr CM stated that the disputed email address was not his. It was also the clear evidence of Dr CM that he did not write the disputed reference.  The date typed on the disputed reference was 26 February 2015, but the email to which it was attached was not sent to Mrs CL until 11:05pm on 2 March 2015.  The genuine reference that was sent as a result of Mrs CL recognising that she should not have used a private email address for an academic reference, was sent by Dr CM at 3:57pm on 3 March 2015, that is to say less than 17 hours after the disputed reference.

Having found Dr CM to be truthful and reliable, the Panel felt that it was unlikely for Dr CM to be mistaken or confused about these important matters as to whether the disputed email address was his and whether he had sent two references on the same individual to the same recruitment company within 24 hours of one another.

As Dr CM did not receive the email sent by Mrs CL to the disputed email account requesting a reference, and as he did not supply the disputed reference, the Panel has concluded that the only person who can have done both was Mr Tahseen or someone acting on his behalf. 

In reaching these findings the Panel has not overlooked the submission made on behalf of Mr Tahseen that he lacked a motive to behave in the manner alleged against him.  It was submitted that he had no reason to doubt that Dr CM would provide a satisfactory reference if asked, and the Panel accepts that is correct. 

“However, the absence of an identifiable motive for the alleged behaviour cannot, in the view of the Panel, negate the clear conclusion that is dictated by Dr CM’s evidence that the disputed email address was not his, that he did not write the disputed reference.  Furthermore, the chronology of Mrs CL’s involvement is corroborated by the contemporaneous documents,” said the Panel.

The Panel agreed that his behaviour was dishonest and amounted to misconduct and Mr Tahseen was suspended from the HCPC register for a period of 12 months.



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