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£8,830 dismissal award after police disclosure

30 March 2006

A support worker has been awarded more than £8,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal after Tayside Police told his employers he had been questioned in connection with a sex allegation 10 years earlier.

The man, identified only as Mr A, was subsequently sacked, even though no criminal proceedings were brought against him and another man was convicted and jailed for rape in connection with the 1993 incident.

Mr A had been working with vulnerable youngsters. An employment tribunal in Dundee heard that legislation brought in to protect children and vulnerable adults had resulted in Tayside's chief constable John Vine telling Mr A's employers that he had been questioned in connection with the rape, which took place at a party he had attended.

Mr A had been advised that sensitive information had been received by his employers from the police. He approached the police and was told the information related to an allegation of a sexual nature. However, because of the Data Protection Act, the police were not able to confirm further details.

The tribunal heard that Mr A's employer decided that even if the allegation was completely unfounded, the police had chosen to make a "soft" disclosure - i.e. matters that officers discover during their investigation that may relate to the fitness of an individual for a particular role - about it and it was not up to them to investigate it and whether it was right or not.

Mr A argued his employer could have gone back to the police to ask if someone had been arrested in connection with the rape.

The tribunal's written judgment stated that there had to be opportunity in the process for the employee to defend themselves and for the employer to take steps in relation to this.

The tribunal found the dismissal unfair and awarded Mr A £8,830 in compensation.