UK

Man acquitted of rape loses Supreme Court criminal check case

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A man acquitted of rape has lost his Supreme Court appeal to remove any reference to the case from his enhanced criminal records check.

The qualified teacher, who cannot be named, was found not guilty of a rape in 2011 after a Crown Court trial.

When he applied for a job following his acquittal, details of the allegation and verdict were included in his criminal records certificate.

He claims the reference infringed his right to respect for private life.

On Monday the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. and ruled that disclosing the man's acquittal was proportionate in the context of his job application.

The court ruled that the chief police officer who had decided to include the information about the acquittal on the criminal check form was justified in doing so.

But the Supreme Court said the case raises "more general concerns", and "careful thought" needs to be given when disclosing allegations in cases where the person has later been acquitted.

The man, who is married with children, is a trained teacher but was working as a taxi driver at the time the allegation was made.

It was alleged he had raped someone who had been a passenger in his taxi. He said there had never been any sexual contact and he was found not guilty at trial.

'Unfair stigmatisation'

Following the acquittal, he applied for an Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate (ECRC) - a type of criminal record check for employers, often required for jobs which involve contact with children or vulnerable people.

The ECRC was issued with details of the rape charge and not guilty verdict. The man objected to the information being included, arguing he had not been convicted and that it failed to give a full account of the evidence in the trial.

He said it infringed his right to respect for private and family life, as well as his right to presumption of innocence.

"When I apply for jobs, this rape allegation is disclosed on my CRB and therefore employers will not consider me," the man wrote in a letter in 2011 when he appealed against the criminal record check.

The Court of Appeal ruled against him in 2016, saying it was reasonable and proportionate.

The man appealed again against the ruling and the case went to the Supreme Court.

Handing down the judgment on Monday, Lord Carnwath, sitting with four other justices, said the information about the charge and acquittal "was in no way secret" and a "matter of public record".

But the court said the issues that the case raised "further consideration outside the scope of this appeal".

Lord Carnwath said there was a lack of information and guidance about how employers should treat criminal records checks which state the person was found not guilty of a charge.

"Even if the ECRC is expressed in entirely neutral terms, there must be a danger that the employer would infer that the disclosure would not have been made unless the chief officer had formed a view of likely guilt," he said.

Lord Carnwath added: "We have been shown reports which emphasise the importance of not excluding the convicted from consideration for employment, but they say nothing about the acquitted, who surely deserve greater protection from unfair stigmatisation."

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