A Black Country teacher who was unlawfully arrested by West Midlands Police after being accused of assaulting a pupil has been awarded £1,000 compensation by a High Court judge.
Mark Richardson, a 39-year-old teacher of unblemished character, ended up at the centre of a legal storm after a pupil at the school where he taught lodged a complaint against him in November 2009.
A landmark ruling at the High Court in London found Mr Richardson had been unlawfully arrested and “falsely imprisoned” after he volunteered to be interviewed by the police following the allegation at the school, which has not been named.
The court heard how a pupil claimed he had been assaulted by Mr Richardson, but the teacher said the boy had “walked into his outstretched arm” as he tried to protect himself from a swinging door which had already hit him once.
A month later Mr Richardson attended first Bloxwich and then Walsall police stations voluntarily and was placed under arrest.
He was photographed, fingerprinted and had a DNA sample taken before being released on police bail, but on January 12 last year Mr Richardson was told no further action would be taken against him.
The court heard how the teacher had found the experience “deeply distressing” and feared the arrest would be a “black spot” on his teaching career.
Mrs Justice Swift ruled the teacher had been unlawfully arrested and “falsely imprisoned”, and said police had failed to show his arrest was “necessary”.
The judgement means police will also now be required to consider removing the entry of the arrest on the Police National Computer, as well as destroying DNA samples, fingerprints and photographs taken of the teacher.
Chris Keates, general secretary of Mr Richardson’s teaching union the NASUWT, called the ruling a “landmark decision for teachers and others who are vulnerable to allegations made by children and young people”.
The union revealed that there have been 2,953 allegations made against NASUWT members since 1991, 2,554 of which resulted in no further action. Only 170 of those allegations have resulted in a caution or conviction.
West Midlands Police said it had launched an internal review of the matter.