Gillian Levett is facing being struck off after suggesting a patient be adopted by her friends
A Harley Street psychologist who embarked on an inappropriate relationship with a troubled public schoolgirl and suggested she be adopted by friends faces being struck off today.
Gillian Levett, 65, told the 16-year-old part-time model that she loved her during a visit to the Royal Albert Hall and allowed the girl to stay at her home in Hove, the Health and Care Professions Council heard.
She also introduced the teenager to her American friends and suggested she be adopted by them.
The girl, now 23 and known only as Miss A, was flown out to see her ‘new family’ in Virginia, but the plan ended disastrously, with the girl attempting suicide.
Levett denied that she was in love with the girl and accused her former patient of lying repeatedly to the Health and Care Professions Council hearing.
But the panel’s chairman Derek Adrian-Harris said they found Miss A to be a ‘credible witness who gave her evidence in good faith.’
The council had heard that Levett introduced the teenager to the American couple, ‘Len’ and ‘Nan’, who began paying her expensive school fees in cash.
The psychologist had claimed she had never actually treated the girl and said she was a friend rather than a patient.
However, Mr Adrian-Harris said the panel concluded that Levett began treating the girl from November 2007.
Over nearly two years, Levett cared for Miss A, after the anorexic part-time model turned up unannounced at her Harley Street clinic.
If the panel now finds Levett guilty of misconduct, she could be suspended or banned from the profession.
Andrew Campbell-Tiech, QC, for the HCPC, told the hearing: ‘This is a case about boundaries and where they should be drawn.
‘This is also a case about what can happen when those boundaries become blurred.’
The council said there was ‘no dispute’ that the pair visited the Cirque du Soleil, the opera and Zizzi restaurant and also travelled to Hove and shopped together.
Miss A, from Oxford, told the hearing Ms Levett hugged her and said ‘love you’ during a trip to see Cirque du Soleil.
The psychologist denied the accusation and told the hearing: ‘‘No I didn’t love this girl… I didn’t tell her that I was in love with her.’
Miss A made a complaint about Levett after visiting another psychologist and talking about her experience.
The panel found Levett pursued an inappropriate relationship with Miss A.
The hearing was told that the psychologist had frequent contact with the girl by phone and by Skype, and treated Miss A outside normal hours at her home.
She also socialised with Miss A, enjoying meals and trips to the theatre and arranged for her to receive food vouchers.
Mr Adrian-Harris said the panel accepted Miss A’s evidence that Levett had raised the issue of a possible adoption with her before the teenager travelled to Virginia in 2008 to meet ‘Len’ and ‘Nan’.
He said: ‘The Panel found Miss A’s evidence compelling on this, as it referred to her remembering the conversation because her reaction was of shock and surprise and it had invoked thoughts about the fact that she already had her own blood family in the UK and how they would react to her being adopted.’
He said the evidence demonstrated that Ms Levett ‘suggested’ the possible adoption but there was ‘no evidence that she had orchestrated’ it.
Miss A told the hearing: ‘When I brought up the issue of what about my family, [Levett] said don’t think about it that way, you are gaining a family, not losing one, you are gaining one.’
She added: ‘It is very tricky for me to talk about because I cared so much for Miss Levett but I felt so hurt… I felt very hurt about people knowing about me and I felt completely abandoned by Nan and Len.
‘I wanted to get help from Miss Levett so much but at the same time I couldn’t speak to my family. It was all very painful.’
The council panel was also told Miss A was allowed to stay at Levett’s home in Hove over several weekends in 2009. Mr Adrian-Harris said the visits occurred after the girl’s attempted overdose.
Miss A told the hearing that Ms Levett knew she would be ‘in trouble’ if the relationship was exposed.
She said: ‘Miss Levett was adamant that should I want to keep seeing her, I shouldn’t tell my parents.’
Levett’s secretary and former patient, Alison Blair, was said to have acted as a ‘go-between’ in an effort to keep the pair’s contact ‘in the shadows’.
Further accusations that the psychologist provided free treatment to Miss A or
arranged for her American friends to pay for a laptop and school fees were not proved.
She was also cleared of telling Miss A to change her name and forbidding contact with her parents.
Allegations that she invited Miss A to stay at her flat in Hove, offered to take her on a trip to Berlin and proposed to become her guardian were likewise found not proved.
But Ms Levett was found to have maintained inappropriate relationships with two other patients.
She commissioned the duo to refurbish her Hove flat, and disclosed Miss A’s confidential information to one of them.
Accusations that Levett leaked information about other patients were dismissed.
The hearing continues.
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