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Kids Company psychologist Helen Winter who took drugs with client asks for leniency

A Kids Company psychologist who took drugs with a vulnerable young woman she met working for the troubled charity has claimed she does not deserve to be permanently banned from practising.

Dr Helen Winter admitted taking MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, and being under its influence with two clients of the charity at a nightclub in south London in January 2014.

She said she took drugs "on several occasions" during her leisure time, testing positive for cocaine, and letting two vulnerable young people, known only as clients C and D, stay at her flat.

Dr Winter had denied offering the drug to the client or taking it in front of her in the nightclub toilet, but a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) panel ruled that Dr Winter's fitness to practise was impaired after finding "all the charges proven" and gave her an interim 18-month suspension order.

In submissions before the panel decide the final sanction imposed on Dr Winter, her representative Samantha Jones said the lack of risk of the psychologist repeating her actions meant a permanent ban was "not necessary".

She said: "The least restrictive and proportionate means to achieving your decision is by way of a 12-month suspension order.

"Dr Winter seeks no less than that, no lesser term.

"She fully appreciates that a severe sanction is required because of the seriousness of the allegations proved in this case.

"What I ask you to do now is to exercise an element of leniency."

Miss Jones said her client - who was not present today - had taken many steps to improve her understanding of therapeutic boundaries including investigating further training and supervision.

The panel was also reminded of testimonials from former colleagues, including one from Michael Kerman, a clinical director of Kids Company, which described her as "a highly valued member of the team".

Miss Jones said that public confidence in the profession "would not be undermined" if she was given a suspension order.

She added: "I would ask you to consider not ending the career of an excellent and highly competent clinical psychologist."

The panel has retired to consider its decision.

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