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Social worker struck off after conning teenage girls into posing topless

Date:4 AUG 2009

A man from West Yorkshire has been removed from the register of social workers by the General Social Care Council (GSCC) after encouraging vulnerable teenagers known to his youth offending team to pose naked.

Christopher Hardman, 55, from Batley, West Yorkshire, was employed by Kirklees Metropolitan Council as a team leader in their Youth Offending Team when he sent text messages and letters to a number of young women attached to the service.

Acting as 'Sue', 'Ayesha', 'Jane Attwood' and 'Peter' from 'Vamp model agency' he asked the girls, some as young as 16, to attend lingerie, topless and nude photo shoots in exchange for money.

Claiming to be from 'Image Creations', he also targeted another woman, aged over 18, who was the daughter of one of his work colleagues. She and four of the service users attended photographic sessions arranged by Hardman, who was acting under an alias. In February 2006, police searched his house after these allegations were made and he was found to be in possession of cannabis for which he accepted a formal caution.

Hardman admitted a statement of the facts which the committee found supported the allegation and admitted that his actions amounted to misconduct. He did not attend the hearing, held today in central London.

Rosie Varley, Chair of the GSCC, said: "Social work relies on the existence of a wholly professional relationship, in circumstances in which users of services have little choice but to be trusting. The vast majority of social workers, and there are almost 80,000 on our register, have no difficulty with this because they are absolutely committed to working in the best interest of the service user at all times.

People who need social care services have the right to be protected from social workers who seriously abuse the trust placed in them, for the purpose of sexual gratification or for any other purpose. A social worker who abuses this trust should forfeit the privileges which come with registration and be removed from the workforce."

Hardman came under investigation in February 2006 after police arrested a photographer. He resigned from Kirklees in 2007 and has not worked as a social worker since, was removed from the register with immediate effect and will not be able to practise as a social worker.