A GOVERNMENT child protection adviser facing a disciplinary probe over allegations she falsely claimed to be a had a PhD said that she was scared of the consequences of owning up.

Susan Stewart was service manager at Aberlour Child Care Trust when a report she had authored was issued with her title changed to Dr Susan Stewart.

Ms Stewart said she spotted the mistake but failed to correct it, allowing the deception to spread.

Read more: Government adviser faces probe into qualifications

She said: "When I came back from leave I saw that six copies of the report had been issued. My title of Doctor was on it. At that point I should have corrected it.

"I know I should have said something. I panicked because the reports had already gone to the hearing.

"I was the sole wage earner in my family. I didn;t feel able to approach my line manager. I didn't feel safe enough to do it. I thought about approaching another line manager in Aberlour. I just never had the courage to do it."

She is appearing before a Scottish Social Services Council conduct sub-committee hearing in Dundee later this week accused of claiming to be a doctor for 17 years between 1995 and 2012, and faces being struck off and banned from the profession.

Read more: Government adviser faces probe into qualifications

The charge against her states that she submitted a CV for a Stirling University teaching assistant post, a job she started in 2012, that claimed she had a PhD from the institution awarded in 1995.

She did the same at Aberlour for a position as service manager at their Child and Family Assessment Centre, a job she took up in 2010.

Ms Stewart, 46, is also said to have used the false credential on a website advertising a child and family consultancy run by her.

Read more: Government adviser faces probe into qualifications

Ms Stewart also provided independent assessments to councils, courts and childcare professionals seeking to decide on the best course of action for children, particularly in some of the most challenging child care protection cases.

She also sat as an expert on the Scottish Parliament’s finance committee when they considered the impact of budgets on child welfare.

The hearing continues.