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Criminal Record Disclosure Violated Teacher’s Human Rights

An allegation that a teacher propositioned a teenage pupil for money will be erased from his enhanced criminal record certificate (ECRC) after the High Court ruled that its inclusion amounted to an unjust and disproportionate interference with his human rights.

The experienced teacher suffered a ‘killer blow’ to his career after details of the girl’s claim were included on his ECRC which was disclosed to prospective employers by Cumbria Police. He said that the disclosure had made it impossible for him to find work, even as a supply teacher.

The ECRC had disclosed the girl’s claim that, after she encountered the teacher in a pub, he had ‘inappropriately hugged’ her and persistently offered her £200 if she would go home with him. The teacher, who was on sick leave at the time, had an unblemished employment history and both the police and the General Teaching Council had decided not to take any action against him.

The court noted that the girl’s disputed allegation had never been tested by evidence and, whilst serious, it was ‘at the lower end of the scale in absolute terms’.  Even if her claim was true, the teenager, who was a pupil at the school where the teacher then worked, accepted that she had consented to the initial ‘hug’ and had not alleged that she was ‘coerced in any way’.

As well as having a devastating impact on the teacher’s career, the disclosure had badly affected his health and cast a ‘lingering shadow’ over many aspects of his life.

Emphasising that everyone is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the court ruled that the inclusion of the allegation on the teacher’s ECRC was an unjust and disproportionate infringement of his right to respect for privacy, enshrined in Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court’s decision opens the way for the teacher to mount a damages claim against the Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary.