Stephensons act for AR (the appellant) in the case of AR - v - Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police and Secretary of State for the Home Department. Judgment has today been handed down dismissing the appeal.
The case involves consideration of whether an acquittal should be disclosed on an enhanced criminal record certificate and whether the disclosure breaches the right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mr. R was acquitted after a trial, of rape of a 17 year old woman. Information about this was disclosed on an enhanced criminal record certificate relating to an employment application to be a teacher, Mr. R appealed against the inclusion of this information via internal procedures with the Greater Manchester Police Force. This was refused. A second certificate was then applied for in respect of a taxi driver application. The same information was provided with no further consultation being made.
Mr. R had asked the court to declare that his human rights were being breached by the continued disclosure of the allegation concerning a serious offence each time an application for an Enhanced Criminal Records Certificate was made. This was because it affected his ability to pursue certain types of employment despite the fact he was found not guilty of the allegations following trial.
The High Court rejected the claim for judicial review and Mr. R appealed to the Court of Appeal in 2016. This appeal was refused and he went on to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court granted permission to appeal on the right to privacy, but declined to allow permission on a point concerning the presumption of innocence.
The court heard the case in November 2017, then recalled the parties for further submissions in April 2018. Judgment has been given today dismissing the appeal, but raising concerns about the lack of guidance in respect of acquittal disclosure and information on how such information is used.
Mike Pemberton, a Partner and Head of Civil Liberties & Public Law at the firm said: “This was an important case which examined whether an acquittal should be disclosed on an enhanced criminal records check. My client is very disappointed at the dismissal of his appeal and findings that disclosure of the information was proportionate.
“He has continuously struggled to pursue his chosen career since the allegation of rape was made against him and he was found not guilty following trial due to the continued disclosure.
“The Supreme Court only granted permission to appeal in respect of the right to privacy and did not consider the presumption of innocence. We are now considering whether to make an application to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of both these issues.
“Whilst the court has dismissed this appeal, concerns were raised in respect of the disclosure of acquittal information when there is no guidance or specific statistics on this issue.
“Their Lordships recognised “reports which emphasise the importance of not excluding the convicted from consideration for employment… say nothing about the acquitted, who surely deserve greater protection from unfair stigmatisation”.
A recording of the Supreme Court’s ruling can be found through the link below: