From the Sunday Telegraph
Man who admitted paedophile fantasies is allowed to continue work with children
By Colin Freeman
A social worker who confessed to having paedophile fantasies is free to continue working with children after a government care tribunal decided that to put him on a blacklist would be an act of "thought policing".
The man, who had worked in social care with children for almost 30 years, admitted to a colleague that he was sexually attracted to pre-pubescent boys, although he claimed never to have acted on his desires.
Last September, Charles Clarke, the then education secretary, ruled that the social worker should have his name put on the Protection of Children Act list, a database of people considered unsuitable to work with children.
But last month, a hearing of the Care Standards Tribunal upheld an appeal by the social worker against Mr Clarke's decision, ruling that simply harbouring "dark thoughts" did not amount to misconduct.
Although he admitted being tempted to seduce a child in the past, and to being tempted to access child pornography, the panel ruled by a two-to-one majority that it would be acting like "Orwellian thought police" if it judged him on his private feelings.
It paves the way for the man, whose identity is known by The Sunday Telegraph but cannot be revealed for legal reasons, to resume working with children should he choose to do so.
Last week, the Department for Education lodged an appeal against the panel's decision, which will be heard before the High Court in London later this year.
Officials are understood to be anxious that they could face charges of negligence if the man found new work with children and was then accused of sex offences.
The ruling also bitterly divided the panel, with its chairman, the lawyer Ian Robertson, taking the unusual step of putting his objections in writing.
"In my view the majority of the tribunal have placed the appellant's right to freedom of thought above the rights of a child to be protected," he said.
The social worker, who had an otherwise exemplary career and was highly respected by his peers, confessed to being a "paedophile" - although he described the word as meaning "lover of children" rather than sexual abuser - to a female colleague with whom he had become friends while working at a private fostering referral agency. At the end of 2002 the pair planned to go on holiday together, at which point he suspected she was hoping to start a romance with him.
To her astonishment, he then told her he was a "lover of children" with an interest in attractive pre-pubescent boys.
He admitted that on one occasion he had been tempted to seduce a young boy that he had worked with, but said he had held back because he knew of the harm it could cause the child.
His colleague initially told nobody, but five months later became "increasingly uncomfortable" with the knowledge and said if he did not tell the agency himself, she would.
In May 2003 he did so, after which he resigned and was referred by the agency for inclusion on the POCA list. The decision to include him angered the man, who felt it was an unfair blemish on his professional reputation.
Speaking to this newspaper, he said that he had no imminent plans to return to child social care work, but added: "It is the principle of having my name on a list as being a danger to children that I object to."
During the appeal hearing, the tribunal took evidence from a child abuse expert, Ray Wyre, who decided that his sexual attraction to young boys was "quite high".
He concluded, however, that he had developed a "sophisticated" sense of self-control to avoid "risk" situations. Mr Wyre also said there were no professional rules requiring care workers to "disclose their fantasies".
In their majority judgment, panel members Mr J Black and Ms M Harris said: "We must not fall into the danger of looking into peoples' minds and developing some form of Orwellian thought police. We are sure that all people have dark thoughts that they would not wish revealed and we must guard against knee-jerk moral censure."
Are they going to take responsability if he does offend? I very much doubt it.
"Instigate change, as it appears it wont come naturally in our cause. Sometimes it needs a little forcing".