A nurse fashioned a Ku Klux Klan hood out of a paper napkin and posed for a photo next to a black colleague at a staff party.
William Sinclair Malcolm cut eye-and-mouth-holes out of the serviette for the racist stunt at a restaurant in Sunderland.
I totally regret the incident, it has absolutely destroyed my life and made me a shadow of my former self.William Sinclair Malcolm
His colleague - who was the only black person at the Christmas bash - was so offended he snatched the napkin from Malcolm’s face and stormed out in disgust, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.
Malcolm, who was working as a registered mental health nurse for Northumberland Tyne and Wear Foundation NHS Trust, now faces being struck off today (FRI) by the Nursing and Midwifery.
Lara Akande, representing the Nursing & Midwifery Council, told a panel that his fitness to practice as a mental health nurse was impaired.
Ms Akande said: “Even if this were a joke gone wrong it would still fall well below the standard expected by the code of conduct.
“This is serious misconduct because it was a racist joke and may amount to discrimination and even harassment.
“This was a work event at which the staff had gone to have fun and his behaviour was expected to be professional and courteous, he was expected to uphold his profession’s code of conduct and this is not the kind of behaviour that would be expected of a nurse in this situation.
“He walked up to the only black person in their company with a white napkin over his face, in what would be considered by most to be a reference to the Ku Klux Klan.
“Racism often shows itself through subconscious actions and unintentional acts, that is when it is institutionalised and when it becomes pervasive.
“The registrant has displayed a lack of insight into his conduct and the panel must asks themselves whether these actions are ingrained within his psyche.
“In spite of the alcohol this shows underlying aspects of his conscious.”
The Ku Klux Klan, often seen in all white robes and hoods, are notorious for the lynching of black people in the south of the United States of America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Malcolm had been signed off work for 10 weeks before the incident at the Liberty Brown Italian restaurant in Timber Beach Road on 12 December 2012.
His colleague was so shocked that he had to leave the restaurant and stand outside for five minutes, the hearing was told.
Malcolm repeatedly apologised but was suspended and later dismissed.
He admitted the allegation he behaved in a racially offensive manner and told the hearing: “Since this happened I have been disgusted with myself, I was never brought up to behave in that manner, if my father was alive today he would be disgusted himself.
“It was a one off act which will never happen again. I have undergone diversity and equality training and I know what I did was wrong.
“I had a good working relationship with colleague A, we were friends and he never wanted this to go any further.
“I totally regret the incident, it has absolutely destroyed my life and made me a shadow of my former self.”
He now works part time as a driver for a funeral director and as a mental health nurse at Conifer Lodge private care home in Sunderland.
If the panel find that Mr Malcolm’s fitness to practice is impaired he faces being struck off as a nurse or having restrictions placed on his right to work as a health care professional.
The hearing continues.