Police apologise to teacher wrongly branded ‘dangerous paedophile’

Judge criticises ‘malicious’ actions of two officers who destroyed man’s career with accusations

A police force has apologised after officers destroyed a teacher’s career by telling his employers he was a “very dangerous paedophile” even though he had never been convicted of child sexual offences.

A judge criticised the actions of the two former officers as a “deliberate misuse of power” and accused them of “targeted malice” against Michael Curran, who he said had suffered a “personal tragedy”.

Humberside Police are expected to be ordered to pay damages and now face an estimated £500,000 legal bill following the long-running legal battle. Upholding a civil claim for malfeasance in public office, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC described the language used by the two officers as “utterly toxic”.

Mr Curran, 60, a former member of the De La Salle religious order, taught at the notorious St William’s School in Market Weighton in East Yorkshire in the 1980s. The school, which looked after boys aged 10 to 16 with emotional and behavioural problems, has been at the centre of three police inquiries into historic child abuse following its closure in 1992, which resulted in the jailing of its former principal and chaplain.

Mr Curran was arrested in 2002 and detectives investigating indecent assault allegations against him seized computers at a pre-exclusion unit in Liverpool where he worked. Charges of making and possessing indecent images of children were later dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service and he was formally acquitted in December 2003.

The evidence against him was found to be “very weak” and the images not to be illegal. He was never charged with the indecent assault allegations.

The two officers from Humberside Police attended an information sharing meeting with his new local authority employers. An earlier Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation concluded that as well as referring to him as a “very dangerous paedophile”, one of the officers also described him as “plausible but dangerous”, as being “guilty as sin” and “going down spitting and screaming” after he followed legal advice and did not enter a plea at an earlier court hearing. 

Mr Curran was later sacked and has not worked in education since. Neither of the officers has been named and have now left the force.

Judge Richardson QC found the officers had acted unlawfully following an earlier trial at Hull County Court. He said: “I am convinced, upon the evidence before me, that after the acquittal of the claimant in the crown court, officers (certainly one and probably the other) acted with targeted malice towards the claimant.

“It must be remembered the comments were made in the context of a formal meeting where information was exchanged and would have consequences. It was a deliberate misuse of the power the officers possessed, to harm him.”

One of the officers was also criticised in an IPCC report which found the comments made during the meeting to be “unprofessional and unguarded” and “highly prejudicial”.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Leaver said: “Humberside Police apologise unreservedly to Mr Curran for the way in which the disclosure was made in these circumstances, the form that it took and for the personal consequences of this for him.”

Following its closure in 1992, more than 200 former pupils have come forward claiming to have been systematically assaulted while resident at St Williams’ school.

Former principal, James Carragher was jailed for seven years in 1993 for his part in the abuse and for a further 14 years following a 2001 investigation in which he was found guilty of buggery and indecent assault against 22 boys, the youngest of which was aged 12.  Father Anthony McCallen, the school chaplain, was also jailed for three and a half years for offences against children.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week