Dishonest Leeds social worker who took hundreds of pounds from vulnerable service users struck off

Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds Town Hall in the city centre skyline.
Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds Town Hall in the city centre skyline.
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A Leeds social worker who withdrew around £1,000 from the bank accounts of vulnerable residents has been struck off for misconduct.

The Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC) described the conduct of Marion Fitzgerald, who worked for Leeds City Council before she was dismissed for her offences last year, as “dishonest”.

A panel of the HCPC Conduct and Competence Committee heard that Ms Fitzgerald withdrew £100 belonging to once service user in August 2012, before further concerns over her work emerged.

The trusted social worker was found to have withdrawn around £900 of another service user’s cash in five separate transactions between May 2012 and August 2012.

Ian Crookall, chair of the HCPC’s panel, said her actions deprived the latter service user of money they were entitled to which has since never been accounted for.

“As a social worker, Marion Fitzgerald was in a position of trust,” he said. “She acted dishonestly and such conduct by any standard is serious.”

The panel decided the only appropriate sanction was to strike Marion Fitzgerald’s name from the HCPC Register.

Ms Fitzgerald’s manager reported the matters to the police in 2012, she was arrested for theft and a criminal investigation followed before she was finally dismissed at a disciplinary hearing last March.

At her London HCPC hearing last week, which she failed to attend, Ms Fitzgerald was described as a very experienced social worker with no previous history of dishonesty. She was employed by the council from 1990 to 2014.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “This is a regrettable but isolated case of dishonesty in which an individual abused their position of trust.

“Fortunately, through the diligence of other members of staff and the procedures we have in place, this dishonesty was brought to light and we were able to launch a thorough investigation.

“This concluded in both the dismissal of the culprit and the subsequent hearing.”