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Safeguarding children is a paramount consideration. But what happens if a former teacher asserts that his rights prevent safeguarding information being disclosed to the police?

This was the issue which the High Court had to consider in the recent case of Camurat v Thurrock Borough Council. Mr Camurat was head of languages at Belhouse Chase Specialist Humanities College. Various issues arose during his employment and eventually his employment was ended on terms contained in a settlement agreement. Amongst other provisions, the agreement stated that any written reference which any third party may request would be in the terms of the reference set out in a schedule to the agreement. The reference was largely favourable although it did include mention of a final written warning which had been issued to him.

Following termination of his employment, the college received a request from the police to provide them with information, as a result of which the college supplied a detailed account. This resulted in an enhanced Criminal Record Certificate being issued containing details supplied by the college. Mr Camurat said that, as a result, he lost employment that he had obtained in a school in Blackheath.

He therefore brought claims against his former employer making various allegations, including breach of the settlement agreement for providing written information to the police (a third party) which went beyond the terms of the reference, and breach of the duty of care which he said he was owed by his former employer.

The High Court concluded that the college was not restricted to the terms of the agreed reference when providing information to the police. The judge said that the words ‘any third party’ in the agreement must mean any potential future employer, not the police or anybody interested in safeguarding issues.

The court also ruled that there is no justification for imposing a duty of care on an employer which would discourage an employer in good faith providing assistance to the police on safeguarding issues.

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