“My union membership covered my legal costs so I was able to fight for my rights - from a financial perspective, it would have been impossible otherwise."

Thompsons Solicitors' employment rights client

A University and College Union (UCU) member can tutor again after successfully removing his name from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) register, with support from his union and Thompsons Solicitors.

The man who worked at a college for adult learners was accused of using inappropriate language of a sexual nature while supporting an overseas educational trip. The allegations followed the member raising a serious grievance about the conduct of senior college management.

His employment at the college was later terminated by way of a compromise agreement, where he received a payment and a positive reference. However, after leaving, his former employer reported his alleged conduct to the police and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The police chose not to investigate as they considered that no criminal offence had been committed and the ISA deemed it unnecessary to add the UCU member to the list of individuals barred from working with children or adults.

However, when the member started to look for work he discovered the chief constable of the police force proposed to put details of the allegation on his certificate.

“It was only after applying for an Enhanced DBS check as part of an application for a new job that I found out the Chief Constable proposed to put details of the allegation on the certificate,” the member said.

The move prevented him pursuing his tutoring career and, as a result, he was forced to find lower-paid work in an industry unsuited to his skills and expertise. 

The man contacted the UCU and instructed Thompsons Solicitors to represent him.

While an initial Judicial Review of the Chief Constable’s decision was unsuccessful in the High Court, a later appeal to the Court of Appeal Civil Division found both the chief constable and High Court failed to take into consideration all relevant factors of the case and the initial decision was disproportionate. The decision of the High Court and the DBS certificate were quashed and the chief constable was ordered to pay the member’s legal fees.

“This case has had a serious impact on my life,” the member said. “My mental health has suffered a great deal and my marriage has broken down from all of the stress.

“I couldn’t have got through it without my union and Thompsons Solicitors – financially or emotionally. My union membership covered my legal costs so I was able to fight for my rights - from a financial perspective, it would have been impossible otherwise. And my solicitor was incredibly patient, professional and down-to-earth, which helped me through one of the worst times of my life.”

As a result of the case, he is free to pursue his tutoring career again.

University and College Union general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “From the start, this case has been an uphill struggle but one that was absolutely worth persevering with. We are delighted our member is now free to pursue a career of his choosing and pleased our membership’s legal support services were able to assist him.”

Craig Hunn, of Thompsons Solicitors, added: “Despite not committing a criminal offence, our member’s life was turned upside down. We are aware the outcome cannot reverse the impact the case has had on his mental health or marriage, but we hope the appeal’s success marks a new and more positive chapter in his life.”