Teacher clears name over pupil harassment allegation

Cumbria police refusal to remove unfounded claim from 'criminal record certificate' is ruled a breach of his right to private life

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The Independent Online

A teacher whose career was destroyed after he was accused of harassing an 18-year-old pupil won the right to clear his record today.

A High Court judge ruled that Cumbria Police had unlawfully infringed the 44-year-old's human rights by refusing to remove details of the unfounded allegation from a "criminal record certificate" available to potential employers.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, in a written ruling, accused police of a "disproportionate and unjustifiable" breach of the teacher's right to private life - enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Police had investigated the complaint and concluded that "no further action" should be taken, yet the disclosure of the allegation had dealt a "killer blow" to the teacher's employment prospects, said the judge.

The court heard that the teenager, a pupil at the school where he taught physical education, had made the accusation in 2010. She said that, having bumped into her in a pub, he had "hugged me... and pressed my chest to him four or five times".

She also alleged that the teacher, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had whispered: "I want you to come round to mine - two hours - £200 every month." He denied "having spoken to or even seen" her and police concluded that "no further action" should be taken for the "offence of 'harassment-sexual touching'."

He left the school but when he applied for a post as a supply teacher months later a member of staff at the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), contacted the investigating officer PC Anita Owen. In a later CRB request, the officer suggested she believed the teenager's allegation and that he was guilty. Michelle Skeer - then assistant chief constable - subsequently authorised Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate disclosure, said the judge.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said: "It was entirely foreseeable that disclosure in the terms made would be a killer blow to (the teacher's) prospects of employment, and so it has proved to be."