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Couple secure rectification, damages from council over data processing after "unfair" safeguarding inquiry

A couple have successfully claimed rectification and damages from a local authority for their personal data being processed unfairly after a safeguarding inquiry.

The couple were advised pro bono by Christine Cooper of Field Court Chambers, after a referral from Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit).

The background to the case was that the couple had been carers for three people with disabilities. In 2011, the husband was accused of assaulting one of the people they cared for.

However, at trial in 2012 the judge heard the informant’s evidence and found there was no case to answer.

Field Court said: “Unfortunately, the local authority safeguarding inquiry was given some incorrect information and subsequently concluded on the balance of probabilities that the husband was guilty of assault. It removed the couple from its register of approved carers and applied to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to include them on the list of people barred from working with vulnerable adults.

“The ISA declined to include them on the barred list. Nevertheless the local authority refused to change its safeguarding conclusion – even when it was provided with the trial transcript.”

Subsequently, the couple applied to different local authorities various times to be carers, but were rejected.

Field Court said: “They gave a complete and truthful account of what had happened in 2011/12. However, when approached to confirm this, the local authority involved referred to the incident as ‘a nasty assault’ and contradicted the account given by the couple.”

Cooper provided advice and helped to prepare the papers for the court proceedings, then guided the couple through negotiations with the local authority.

The claim was settled and the local authority agreed to: correct its records; bring the correction to the attention of each body who had been given information about the safeguarding inquiry; provide an open letter acknowledging that the previous information was incorrect; and make a substantial payment to Advocate.

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