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back to article Malicious gossip could cost you your job

A recent landmark ruling by the High Court takes the UK one step closer to becoming an “informant society” along the lines of the former East Germany or Soviet Union. El Reg previously reported on the case of deputy head, John Pinnington, who was fired from his job when an enhanced criminal record background (CRB) check turned …

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This needs to be brought home

Maybe we should all do our bit for a fairer society by making unsubstantiated allegations against senior police officers. That should effectively prevent them from going any further in their careers. Police are subject to CRB checks, of course - aren't they? And perhaps a few politicians need the same treatment.

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Anonymous Coward

UK? Salem?

You hit the nail on the head with "when faced with a candidate about whom allegations have been made, employers will almost universally opt for the safe option". And the effect will be to give to the malicious the power to wreck the careers and lives of innocent people. That's a risk not worth taking; and it's why our legal system is based on the principle 'innocent until proven guilty': we must be prepared to risk the guilty going unpunished to prevent the greater wickedness of punishing the innocent unjustly.

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Paris Hilton

What their kid's teachers get up to

"In defence of its right to poke into individual private lives, it asks its readers whether they would not wish to know what their children’s teachers get up to at the weekend."

I bet many people will say that they don't want their kid's teachers to be having sex other than in the missionary position during the weekend, because if they did then they are perverts and everyone knows that perverts are child molesters.

Paris because she is a pervert.

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Thumb Up

Wouldn't worry ...

eventually everyone will end up with unsubstantiated allegations rendering it completely useless... then when someone really does have a clean slate actually becomes suspicious instead for not having any.

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Boffin

Weekend teachers not humans ?

Come off it, what the teachers do at the weekends should be none of my business.

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Stop

Hmmm.....

Guess this is good companion reading even if itapplies to the US:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson222.html

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Coat

Re: UK? Salem?

Sorry mate, you are wrong.

It is enshrined in the letter of law that UK does not have the presumption of innocence (one of the most basic human rights) and as a matter of fact the current Health and Safety and Eductional legislation clearly postulate that the founding principle of the UK legislation is indeed Salem: "guilty until proven innocent". By the way, this is also the reason why the entire UK human rights legislation is flawed and can be circumvented on casual basis when the government so desires.

So if you want to do anything on the subject, write a very short and clear letter to your MP which says that if he wants your vote he has to sponsor a member bill containing one sentence: "It is a founding principle of UK Law that any person is Innocent until proven guilty".

Me coat. The one with the signage: "We already live in a Stalin state, stop saying it is "becoming" a 1984".

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Coat

Won't someone think of the children?

Specfically, those children who now will be denied some of the best teachers in schools, leaders in the Scout & Guide movements, coaches in sports etc. because of biased and unsubstatiated allegations. There is no downside for those who make these allegations, and no possibility of refutation by those against whom they are made.

This is a bad law which damages children in the name of protecting them. It was brought about by the no-doubt well-meaning Esther Rantzen and her hysterical fellow travellers - undoing centuries of 'innocent until proven guilty' and, as so often happens when people make laws without thought of the consequences, will have no affect on actual abusers but will instead severely damage the lives and careers of wholly innocent people.

Given that most child abuse happens in families, one must wonder what motivates people who are so shrill about the much rarer 'stranger paedophilia'. Guilt on their own part, perhaps?

Mine's the one with sweeties in the pocket.

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Black Helicopters

"......and they will be held accountable." I hope.

"And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there?

Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable."

When East German communism collapsed the first government offices to be comprehensively trashed, sorry, held accountable by the population were the record facilities of the hated Stazi.

I hope someone is keeping a list of where the offices and data centers of the following organizations are, so that people know where to hold account when the time comes.

National ID program,

National DNA database,

Integrated communications records database

Enhanced CRB database,

Vehicle movements database,

PNR database

Bank record and credit card monitoring databases.

And these are only the more obvious ones which spring to mind immediately ! What about all the other illegal and semi legal ones they are not even telling us about (cellphone geolocation data, lists of antiwar, anti-vivisaction, anti-airport protestors etc etc) and the hoards of others which I cant remember at them moment.

Who'd a thunk it. Some of our grandparents fought and died to resist this kind of rule, and here we are in a burgeoning surveillance dictatorship. It aint funny any more.

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Idiots and Peadophiles

I cannot see who but these two groups would ever try to embark on a career in teaching these days. Anyone suggest any others?

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Flame

Speaking from experience

My ex-wife made such allegations against me. Unfounded and spiteful in the nature of such things, I am still tainted and of course totally unable to prove my innocence.

There should be a law similar to that of an eye for an eye when someone makes such an accusation.

I'd have her eyes to content myself with. I'd preserve them for jinglingling like clackers whenever I thought about it.

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Boffin

Who in their right mind would ever want to work with children!?

There are plenty of scummy kids (and parents) out there that happily make such evil accusations against an innocent teacher. Damn! It's not like teachers get paid much to start with - certainly not enough for this.

Oh look, in one fell swoop this judge has reduced the number of people wanting be teachers and reduced the levels of quality teaching in our schools! Cool!

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Communism, anyone

Scary article. Completely agree with the AC above, much as its a pain letting the guilty go unpunished, I prefer that option to having every aspect of my life scrutinised at every turn. Innocent until proven guilty is one of the fundamental principles on which this nation is built, so is probably a prime target for government to erode away.

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Anonymous Coward

Now their hands are tied

How on earth is this going to play out? We already have kids who know the system and know what they can get away with. Now they just need to say that "Sir tried to touch me" and they can kill Sir's career.

As for the Daily Wail, it's doing much harm to our freedoms and privacy, while positioning itself as a champion for the people. Do I want to know what my kid's teacher gets up to at the weekend? Erm, no, I couldn't give a monkeys. As long as they're good teachers they can do what they want (legality assumed, etc). Last time I checked we were still a free country. The Wail is just playing to people's fears and ignorance, as ever, and very sadly it sells well based on that.

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Full disclosure

At the very least you it would be reasonable for this report to say "X was accused of being naughty. A Police investigation was carried out and found no evidence of any offence"

And since we're all about the full disclosure, shouldn't it include the particulars of the person making the accusation?

Seems all you have to do to make policy is a headline in the tabloids, no matter how ridiculous it is.

"It is enshrined in the letter of law that UK does not have the presumption of innocence"

Anyone got a link to that?

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Coat

Scarey stuff

Scene... Average english town, mob of people dragging a man to the police

<townsfolk> Sir sir we've found a kiddie fiddler! may we burn him?

<police> How do you know he's a kiddie fiddler?

<townsfolk> He looks like one

<police> ok good enough for me..

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Coat

Knit-your-own-yoghurt types sign up here

Liberty works very hard on this and related mass surveillance society, privacy-busting snooper's database type issues, including several unpopular causes (like this one) that may run counter to the tabloid-lead politician's knee-jerk instinct.

When I've finished a hard day of ranting about civil liberties on Slashdot and El Reg comments, I like to relax by admiring the direct debit numbers on my bank account. It helps me to feel smug and superior to the average self-righteous poster and their mundane twatotronic rants, for - lo! - I have put some money where my mouth, er, fingers are. (Stop that sniggering at the back, don't think I can't see you!!)

http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk

Go on, chuck 'em twenty quid, you know it makes sense...

Mine's the one with the "save the whales" badge and the incense and whalesong tape in the pocket.

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Stop

School Kids now hold the power over their teachers?!

If all it takes is 1 unsubstantiated lie to be told & then that teacher is effectively blacklisted from the teaching profession, how on earth are teachers supposed to maintain class discipline?

"You give me a detention & i'll tell my parents that you came onto me!"

Fear of this simple statement may well allow kids the run of the class in more timid teacher's lessons resulting in poor education for the rest of the class.

If I were a teacher i'd be looking elsewhere for a new career right about now...

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Anonymous Coward

The balance of justice

As a teacher, the idea of a child having the power to end my career is a scary one. In the classroom teachers are becoming increasingly powerless already, and giving children an effective kill switch is deeply concerning. As long as there are no real consequences to making false accusations, kids won't feel concerned about settling a grudge against a teacher by accusing them of something dreadful.

In 2004, one teachers' union proposed that teachers who were falsely accused should be able to sue the parents of their accusers, but clearly nothing has come of that. If parents knew they might suffer SERIOUS consequences for their children making things up, they would be a little more careful to check their facts and keep an eye on their kids' behaviour.

The CRB process does have its reasons, not least because patterns of behaviour and lots of allegations which go to court but ultimately aren't prosecuted start to suggest there may be value in keeping an eye on someone. Items appearing on the CRB disclosure doesn't stop a school employing the person (unless they've been convicted of certain things), but it does feed into the school's risk assessment of the individual.

Length? Oh, sorry, wrong forum.....

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Pirate

Are you sure ??

On the other hand, we can't be sure he is clean - and his job gets him access to hundreds of vulnerable little people.

Maybe this isn't so simple ?

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Paris Hilton

Think of the children

Esther F***ing Rantzen has a lot to answer for.

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Pirate

Anorther nail in the Great British coffin

I am SO getting the hell out of this country ASAP...

Skull and crosses because proper justice and common sense are dead.

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Stop

I've sat on a jury...

...where an innocent woman was accused of child abuse - because she refused to give cigarettes and alcohol to an 11 year old kid who was in care (he wasn't her kid) - who talked another into playing his game.

Because of the nature of the allegations she was kept on remand for 6 months, in which time everything she had ever owned had been stolen from her, and her home was burned to the ground.

Her life as she knew it was lost forever, all her possessions, all the pictures, memoirs, clothes, EVERYTHING.

The accuser had done the same to (IIRC) SIX other people who'd not given him what he wanted, as he had discovered that being in care, it was the quickest way to get attention.

We didn't find out about the other baseless accusations until the end of the case, by which point it was obvious they were lying, and playing the system.

This needs to be fought strenuously, before others suffer a living death, unable to work and ostracized by society, based on rumours, unfounded gossip, and false allegations.

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Paris Hilton

@What their kid's teachers get up to

Actually, my ex wife and, following her, my recent ex girlfriend were both teachers (I have no idea why teachers go for me, none at all) and they both had voracious, uh, appetites, with all manner of "kinky" tastes I assure you.

Funny thing is that both them were very professional regarding the distinction between their careers (teaching children) and their private lives (having wild, unabandoned sex)

Funny that.

Paris, because she could teach us all a thing or two about wild unabandoned sex

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Coat

Hmmm, anyone old enough to remember some outdated latin thingy called Habius corpus

cool, i got almost as few rights as gary glitter...

would they like to take my right to vote away as well?

i can look forward to another 25 years on the dole, cos i got a accusation on my record which i cannot access to dispute and which cannot be removed.

So i cannot work in the private or pubilc sector or any business where any contact of any member of the public happens.(so that rules out retraining as a back office administrator).

So, if the dole office starts bitching about me not finding any work, i got a valid excuse. sweet!

[Gov beuracracy has deemed me unfit to hold any work where exposure to money, computer data or members of the public are likley to occur]

so that rules out 99.99% of all jobs.

mines the one with the doley card permanently sewn into the lineing. see you all in a fortnight ;p

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Self righteous bastards.

"it asks its readers whether they would not wish to know what their children’s teachers get up to at the weekend.

Undoubtedly many parents would, and it is this, plus the result of the Pinington case. that is likely to provide a new focus for future salacious reportage."

Firstly, that really ought to read "many prurient and excessively self righteous tabloid hysterics who just happen to have managed to produce offspring, despite the fact that if they really believed all the twaddle they were spouting, they would be terrified to leave their houses", rather than simply "parents".

Secondly, the question is the wrong way around, would the parents like the teachers to know what _they_ get up to at the weekend ? SWMBO works in education, and I can happily confirm that for a significant number of parents, what they get up to at the weekend is drinking, beating up their spouses and raping such of their children as they can get hold of.

Children are far less at risk in their educational environments where they are typically surrounded by other children and adults than they are at home 'behind closed doors' so to speak, which is where by far the majority of abusers are to be found.

Throughout my own education, and through the many years of SWMBOs continued work in the sector, I have never heard of a single incident of a child being abused by a teacher. Not to they say that they don't happen of course (and I'm not counting 'female teacher gives fifteen year old a blowy in the maths cupboard' as 'abuse' either, for all that it's wrong, illegal and stupid.

OTOH I hear several tragic stories each year of children who have been fucked up the jacksie by daddy after he finished flattening mummies face in.

Somehow, I find it hard to imagine that many of those parents are Telegraph readers.

There's not an icon for this one.

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Unhappy

It is indeed frightning

In my circle of acquaintances I know of 5 individuals who have, at various times, been accused of things which could have, and in one case very nearly did, result in prosecution.

One of the people concerned eventually admitted, years later, that their allegation was completely false and made purely for personal gain.

Another had been under psychiatric care for many years, but still managed to get the police involved by manipulating others to make false allegations on their behalf.

People can be very strange. They often have their own agendas, which they pursue by dubious means with no thought of the consequences to the accused.

And now, it appears that victims of baseless accusations can suffer from the actions of these people - forever. With absolutely no chance of legal redress and little chance of ever clearing their name.

The only solution I can imagine is to make full details of the originator and circumstances of such non-proven accusations available as an attachment to these 'enhanced criminal record background' checks.

After all, if you are going to report unsubstantiated accusations, isn't it only fair to include details of the accuser AND their previous record of unsubstantiated accusations?

Of course, thrown mud still sticks. So WHY even include unsubstantiated accusations in the first place?

Why not just stick to proven accusations confirmed by a successful criminal prosecution?

Too much trouble?

Or... "Better a hundred innocent men go to jail, than a single guilty man go free."?

Now who said that?

Oh yes - Iosef Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili. Perhaps better known as Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin

Now THERE'S an example to follow!

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Anonymous Coward

What goes around comes around

I hope the scummy council estate accusers (lets face it, you don't hear it anywhere else, hardly) end up being accused themselves.

What goes around comes around!

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Re: Liberty

This issue has been discussed at several AGMs of Liberty, and a resolution was eventually passed at the last AGM:

==

Enhanced Disclosures

Liberty’s A.G.M. notes that, despite the creation of the Independent

Safeguarding Authority (the ISA), designed to provide fair

protection to children and vulnerable adults and to professionals

working with them, and contrary to the recommendation of the

Bichard Inquiry, the system whereby enhanced disclosure forms

are circulated to employers still exists. Since these forms very

often contain mere accusations of minor matters, teachers and

carers without any convictions or cautions are condemned to

permanent unemployment in their profession.

This A.G.M. therefore resolves to seek change to law and policy so

that, within the jurisdiction of the ISA (covering not only teachers

and carers but everyone working with children and vulnerable

adults), no disclosure can be made of mere allegations other than

to the ISA itself.

==

A report on all the resolutions passed is at http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news-and-events/2-agm/report-on-the-2008-agm.pdf

br -d

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Alert

lunacy

The UK is now a seriously fucked up place to live. Really. Look around. Listen. Make a list in your mind of all the things the ruling class have done to you over the past 8 years. We are no longer free people.

Alien because thats how this country feels to me

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Stop

Uk - Salem?

Having suffered extensively from a 10 year long 'whispering campaign' of lies and slander from two academic rivals I finally had to give up my hopes of a University career. 15 years of academic study, over 30 peer reviewed publications, and a string of happy employers willing to give me fixed term contracts and vouch for my honesty, academic and teaching abilities still all counted for nothing against malicious slander based on the pathological jealousy of two contemporaries. After years of being told 'we'd like to appoint you and we think you're the best candidate we've seen, but we have this lingering doubt' I found there was nothing I could say or do to get rid of the mud that had been thrown.

Turning the CRB into an official slander machine is hopeless. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

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Stop

Did you hear?

Did I hear that Lord Justice Richards beats his wife? I might have misheard it, but you should be aware of this unfounded rumour just in case it is true.

/sarcasm off/

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Another Side to the Question

Since being a victim of child sexual abuse can destroy a person's whole life, isn't it more important to do everything we possibly can to minimize the risk of this than to be scrupulously fair to every job applicant?

After all, there are many jobs and careers open to people which do not involve contact with children and vulnerable adults.

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Flame

I thought Britain was a cesspool...

...and that was during the good times, apparently. I was itching to get out of the country for a while, and when the perfect opportunity availed itself in 2004, I jumped and never looked back.

I have no regrets, either - especially when I reflect that I don't pay tax to the UK Treasury anymore. I pay my taxes to another government, which actually delivers value for money (shocker!)

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Paris Hilton

F*** the Teachers..

"..they don't want their kid's teachers to be having sex other than in the missionary position..."

You mean my kid's teachers are HAVING SEX??? I thought they were put in the cupboards at the end of lessons, and brought out for the next day, same as textbooks....

Paris, because she can teach us a thing or two (after lessons, naturally...)

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Just a weak attempt at lightening the mood.

Blighty gettin' a bit too draconian for you poms? Your welcome to come 'ere down under and get sum Aussie sun on ya pasty complexions.

I, for one, will gladly welcome our former colonial overloads,

(Hey, you people been watching the Olympics? Ever time our flag Aussie flag is raiased, we also (still) raise the Union Jack with it. You own us)

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@ Knit-your-own-yoghurt ....

You are absolutely right, but this may not be the best place to appeal for coherent collective action. Yes, Liberty do have the ability to create wider publicity for many of the issues that we vent our frustrations on, and they certainly have the legal expertise and knowledge of where to apply pressure within the government bureaucracy and the establishment in general.

Does the average El Reg commenter have enough commitment to provide financial support for an organization like Liberty? Sadly, I don't think so. What we do best is to indulge in a gigantic bitch-fest that leaves us feeling less frustrated and occupying at least a little piece of the moral high ground.

So maybe we should be doing what the AC suggests and putting our money where our mouth is, and providing resources for the people who can be most effective in bringing our concerns to the attention of the government.

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Coat

Truly shocking

It is illegal to refuse anyone employment solely on the basis that they have a criminal record. How can it therefore be the case that people are refused employment on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations? The law is definitely an ass on this one.

What a nasty country this is turning out to be! I know that the indigenous population here, when the surface is scratched, has a tendency towards extreme hatred and war-like behaviour but the law is intended to mitigate this and ensure that only the guilty are punished. This clearly flies in the face of all that we've held sacred for many hundreds of years.

Who is going to sort this out? Someone like David Davis? I certainly hope so before we descend into a stinking cesspit from which we'll never emerge.

I'd certainly love to know if there are any such unsubstantiated allegations held about me on police computers somewhere. Unfortunately, however, it appears that I don't have the right to know if there are any, much less challenge them. What a fucked up system!

Unless something serious is done, urgently, I will leave this Godforsaken country and head off to pastures new and, hopefully, unsullied by such witch hunts if I can find one.

Mine's the one with the passport and one way ticket outta here in the pocket.

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Pirate

Evidence

Perhaps we would be happier with the idea of someone grassing up their teacher if there was a requirement for the identity of the informant to be available - and maybe even some evidence.

Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The idea of vetting teachers etc was to stop kids getting dead.

Privacy is a good thing - so is stopping kids getting dead.

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Coat

Who do I see and is there a time limit?

There are a few teachers I'd like to report from around 1977.

Mine's the one with the tattered list in crayon in the pocket.

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Hmm...

It is clear that mud sticks, especially with sex related mud slinging, this happens in so many cases. There were people writing in to the Graun this weekend complaining about an article on John Leslie implying that because it is difficult to prosecute for rape he was actually guilty even though the judge said that he could go free without a stain on his character. By that measure he would fail an eCRB, despite having been proven innocent, just because people are still talking about it.

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the police suck

in the city i live im a mentally unstable organzied crime overlord. just because all the street kiddies get a punch

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Coat

OOO!... let's spread malicious rumors...

about all the politicians and judges and see if they'll stop hiring/electing them to do anything due to the enhanced checks.

mine's the one with the mud slung on the back of it

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Coat

Any Suspicion is Truth

Just another example of this country’s idea that the act of suspecting, accusing or thinking results in a piece of true data that can be recorded and kept in perpetuity, no matter how wrong the basis for the suspecting, accusing or thinking is or how wrong the conclusions from that process are.

We’ve had, for some time, the CIFAS warning database. We now have the Enhanced CRB Check. We’ll soon have a ‘no-work’ database. Any idea what’s next?

Mines the one with the unsubstantiated, facilitated-communications allegation in the pocket that Lord Justice Richards is a paedophile.

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Black Helicopters

Another unsubstantiated rumour

Has anybody noticed how Gordon Brown is always on the telly hanging around schools with lots of children.

Methinks he would fail an ECRB check, as would most politicians.

(How long before they come to take us all away)

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Anonymous Coward

I cannot help .....

but say that I too have been subject to this "guilty without even being heard" .

What happened ?. I used a computer that I also allowed my friends son and daughter to use. Is that a crime ?.No. So I posted messages ,my friends son and daughter posted messages and so did several of my friends. Some freak of a bloke called "John Hobson" could not stand the fact that I contradicted him in a forum. He collected all the messages that he could find from everyone using the computer and took them to the police. The police then took them to a magistrate ,swore that they were ALL my messages and obtained a search warrant on the basis that ,quote "...because I know how to access newsgroups and there is illegal material material on newsgroups I MAY be in possession of illegal material.....". They then executed search warrant ,apologised and left.

Not content with this my home force decided to tell a third party that they had conducted a search and left them with the distinct impression that I was a ...

Of course that third party gossiped and the rest is history.

So the moral of this is, if you know how to access newsgroups you can expect

to be visited , much the same as if you walk in Brixton you will be visited

because drug dealers live in Brixton and you know how to get there.

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Extra police info...

In addition, the separate section of the Disclosure IS NOT given to the person being disclosed, so any "background" information that the Police provide and employers see, the employee DOES NOT see.

Now if thats not unreasonable...

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The News of the Screws

"In defence of its right to poke into individual private lives, it asks its readers whether they would not wish to know what their children’s teachers get up to at the weekend."

Actually I'd like to know what the editor and journalists of that reprehensible lying gutter rag get up to at the weekend.

Since they are obviously such paragons of moral virtue that they can pass judgement on anyone and everyone else, they clearly can't have anything to hide, can they...?

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Silver badge

So, let me get this right

If you have not been found not guilty in a court of law, you are guilty.

If you have been found guilty in a court of law , you are guilty.

Prisoner at the bar. How do you plead?

Erm guilty ? your honour .

Correct! Take him down.

This is a great way to save time and money in British courts, no need to do irritating poorly compensated jury duty. All the courts really need is an allegation.

Now. How do we address the problem of overcrowded prisons? Soylent Green!

PS Do contribute to Liberty and look up their site, it's worth it.

I left the UK 6 yrs ago and now notice that the rest of Europe is slowly beginning to catch up. Time to get a bit further away.

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Hax!

Does the VC dictionary interchange 'hax' for 'has'?

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