This case concerned a qualified teacher who was charged with the rape of a 17 year old girl whilst working as a taxi driver in 2009. He was found not guilty and acquitted. He subsequently applied for a number of teaching jobs which required an enhanced criminal records certificate (ECRC). The ECRC included details of the allegations against him. He applied to the High Court for judicial review on the grounds it breached his right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal rejected the challenge and on Monday this week the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed his appeal.
The Supreme Court ruled that disclosing the man's acquittal was proportionate. Lord Carnwath was of the view that it was relevant that the information about the charge and acquittal was a matter of public record and might have come to the potential employer's knowledge from other sources. Also, the first instance judge had taken account of the possible employment difficulties but regarded them as no more than necessary to meet the pressing need for the which the ECRC process was enacted.
Lord Carnwarth also noted his general concerns about the ECRC process, that there is no clear guidance about what weight should be given to an acquittal in different circumstances and there is a lack of information about how an ECRC is likely to be treated by a potential employer in such a case.
The ruling stated: "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."