Ex-Kids Company psychologist banned for 12 months after taking MDMA

Helen Winter took the class A drug while with the client and a colleague at a London nightclub, and has been suspended from practising her profession for a year

Helen Winter
Helen Winter

A former Kids Company psychologist has been banned from practising for 12 months after she took the party drug MDMA with one of the charity’s clients in a nightclub toilet cubicle.

Helen Winter took the drug with the woman at Hidden nightclub in Vauxhall, south London, after offering the client and Winter’s colleague Nicci Shall a "dab" on 24 January last year.

Winter had at an earlier hearing admitted regularly using class A drugs, including cocaine and MDMA, while working at the charity, which closed in August.

But Winter claimed that it would have been impossible for her to have taken drugs with the youngster, who had a "lifelong serious health issue", in a toilet cubicle because of her size.

She also insisted she would "never offer or take drugs in front of a client; it would be a complete breach of professional boundaries, be totally inappropriate and illegal".

But a Health and Care Professions Council panel rejected Dr Winter's account of the night, stating she "was not being open, frank and honest about this allegation".

After the incident came to the attention of Kids Company managers on 14 May 2014, Winter tested positive for cocaine two days later.

She was immediately suspended, removed from working with young people and reported to the watchdog for psychologists, according to the charity.

Last month the HCPC panel ruled that Winter's fitness to practise was impaired and imposed an 18-month interim suspension order.

She was this week suspended for 12 months after panel chairwoman Penny Griffith said: "The conduct was extremely serious, demonstrated a failure to maintain appropriate therapeutic boundaries and was a significant breach of trust, particularly given the vulnerability of the young people concerned."

But the panel found Winter had since shown heartfelt remorse and the risk of her repeating such conduct was very low.

Griffith said: "To impose the more restrictive sanction of striking off the register would be punitive and disproportionate at this stage."

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