Therapist denies 'vexatious' allegations

Worthing Herald, UK/March 18, 2009

An arts therapist from Essex accused of exploiting vulnerable patients in a "cult-like atmosphere" has said he believed his methods had helped many people.

Derek Gale, 59, of Loughton, denied he had taken advantage of those who came to him and said work was carried out with "informed" consent.

He told the hearing in central London the "vexatious" allegations were made by a "handful" of former clients who had mounted a campaign against him based on "unreliable" accounts.

Gale faces a series of allegations before the Health Professions Council including insulting patients, discussing his sexual fantasies with them, touching them inappropriately, inviting them on holidays and to parties where cannabis was available, encouraging them to renovate his centre for free and falling asleep during sessions.

He is also alleged to have treated his clients as a "family of choice", referring to himself as daddy and reading them bedtime stories.

The complaints being considered by the HPC's conduct & competence committee relate to his dealing with four ex-patients, identified by their initials, JB, PC, IJ and GD, who paid for Gale's help at various times between 1984 and 2006.

"Allegations have been made which if they are proved correct make me out to be not only a bad man but some sort of monster," he said.

With his voice breaking with emotion, Gale said the stress was taking its toll.

"Suddenly in the middle of what had become a successful career in the helping professions I have found myself the subject of a campaign to bring me down personally and to stop me working."

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