Paul Diamond represented Lesley Pilkington as she appealed the revocation of her senior accredited status after being secretly recorded by an undercover journalist during a counselling session.
The journalist was a homosexual man who deceived her into believing that he wanted counselling for unwanted same-sex attraction. Mrs Pilkington confirmed that she would be happy to meet with him but only within a Christian counselling context and he agreed. The journalist later complained to her professional body and to the press.
An Appeal Panel found that Lesley should still lose her senior accredited status because she should not have assumed that Mr Strudwick wanted to proceed under the same therapeutic approach that she offered, despite the fact they both agreed to do so. It also found that she should not have taken his claim that he was depressed because of his homosexuality at face value.
The panel also treated Patrick as a real client, despite him being an undercover reporter who had approached her on false pretences.
However, the panel also upheld the following mitigating circumstances:
“Mr Strudwick was not open about his true intention in engaging the services of Mrs Pilkington and in significant ways deliberately misled her into believing that he was comfortable and accepting of her approach, such as saying Amen at the end of prayers and making statements such as, “I’ve become more religious again recently”, lulling Mrs Pilkington into a false sense of security. In his persistent questioning he manipulated the content of the sessions to a considerable extent in order to meet his own agenda.”
Mrs Pilkington contended that Mr Strudwick was never a genuine client and therefore no professional relationship existed between them. She also demonstrated that he had clearly affirmed and agreed to her therapeutic approach.
Mr. Strudwick said on 10th Feb 2010: “We want to root out therapists and psychiatrists who are practising these techniques and ultimately bring an end to them through exposing them, as well as disrupting their meetings. The ultimate aim was to prevent religious groups from offering ‘counselling’ which aims to change sexual orientation.”