Man takes rape acquittal disclosure claim to Supreme Court

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Nov 22, 2017
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The Supreme Court has been asked to rule on whether a police force was right to disclose a man’s rape acquittal 

John Stillwell/PA

A man whose acquittal on a rape charge was divulged by police during two job applications has taken a challenge to the Supreme Court. 

The man, known only as AR, argues that the disclosures by Greater Manchester police were a violation of his presumption of innocence under the European Convention on Human Rights.

AR was a qualified teacher who had worked as a taxi driver. A teenage girl alleged that he had raped her when she was a passenger in his taxi, an allegation that he denied. He was cleared of rape at Bolton crown court in 2011.

He applied for a teaching job in the same year, triggering a criminal records check and certificate under the Police Act 1997. When the certificate came back it contained details of the rape allegation and set out that the case had been discharged after he was found not guilty. His application for a teaching job was unsuccessful.

The man then applied for a job as a private hire driver and when the criminal record certificate came back it also referred to the rape allegation. Again he was unsuccessful in his application.

The man appealed against the decision to disclose the allegation under Greater Manchester police’s internal procedures but a review by a civilian officer rejected his appeal. He went to the High Court to challenge the disclosure and the court ruled against him, saying that the decision to disclose came down to whether it was proportionate, in the circumstances, for the protection of the public.

Judge Raynor, QC, sitting in the administrative court, said that disclosure did not go against the presumption of innocence under the European Convention because there was no indication on the certificate that the jury was wrong to acquit or that the police thought he was guilty.

However, the court ruled that it was acceptable for the police to include the information because they suspected that he might have committed the rape. There was nothing in his enhanced criminal record certificate to say that he should have been found guilty.

The court also ruled that there was no evident breach to his right to privacy because disclosure was consistent with the requirement to balance any detriment to the claimant against the need to protect vulnerable members of the public.

The Court of Appeal also rejected his challenge.

The appeal judges said that there may be situations where someone had been acquitted and it was clearly shown that they had not committed the crime — for instance, if someone else was convicted. But this was not one of those cases, the judges said.

His appeal at the Supreme Court is being heard by Lords Kerr, Reed, Carnwath, Hughes and Lloyd-Jones.

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