Kids Company psychologist admits taking drugs while with vulnerable young people


A psychologist faces being struck off after admitting being high on party drugs while with vulnerable young people she worked with at Kids Company.

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

Dr Winter is also accused of taking the Class A drug with one of the young people, known only as client C, in the toilet cubicle at the club, but she denies this.

However, she does admit using drugs "on several occasions" during her leisure time, testing positive for cocaine, and letting the vulnerable young people, known only as "clients C and D", stay at her flat.

Dr Winter admitted that she was guilty of misconduct and that her fitness to practice is impaired, at the hearing at the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPS) in London today.

Kids Company collapsed in August amid allegations of financial mismanagement and has faced a series of damaging allegations since its collapse.

The charity, which is now under the control of administrators, is also being investigated by police from the complex case team of the Met's Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command.

Dr Winter took MDMA with a colleague, Nicci Shall, on the night out at Hidden club in Vauxhall on January 24 2014.

The pair had met while working at the Urban Academy, a pupil referral unit run by Kids Company in Southwark, south London.

Recalling the night in question, Ms Shall said she had been drinking wine and jaegerbomb shots in the pub from 4pm when she and Dr Winter decided to carry the night on at Hidden nightclub.

She told how they bought some MDMA which they took in the toilet and later saw clients C and D, two clients of Kids Company in their early 20s, in the same club.

Later she went to a toilet cubicle with Dr Winter and client C where she watched the pair take drugs, she alleges.

She told the hearing: "Helen Winter offered client C and me a dab of MDMA which I declined. Helen Winter and client C consumed the MDMA."

She said that after she left the club she felt "awful" about what she had witnessed and wanted to tell her boss, but was persuaded not to.

She said Dr Winter told her the clients had "had a good time and nothing had come of it".

In a series of texts she told Dr Winter how awful she felt.

In one she wrote "I can't believe what we did".

In another she wrote: "I'm just feeling so disappointed in myself and I also really trusted you with so much stuff but you put me in a position that, even if it was a momentary slip, suggests that you don't care for me."

Ms Shall said she felt appalled at the incident and turned to a colleague for advice, but they advised her not to take the matter further.

She told the hearing: "I went to colleagues and they advised me not to take it any further. I stupidly followed their advice and I regret that."

She added: "I felt under a lot of pressure not to tell anybody."

She eventually reported the matter to the charity's chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh and was interviewed for an internal investigation, but raised concerns about the accuracy of the report.

She said: "I do not feel that the investigation report compiled by witness B accurately reflects my account of events.

"I challenged the accuracy of the report but was informed by Kids Company that it was an internal document and should remain confidential."

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