A CHILDREN’S unit manager who was cleared of an indecency charge is suing Humberside Police over allegations he was sacked after an officer branded him a “very dangerous paedophile.”
Michael Curran, who formerly worked at the St William’s children’s home at Market Weighton in east Yorkshire, alleges he was dismissed from a subsequent job running a centre for children with behavioural problems because of “malicious” comments made by one or more Humberside officers.
Mr Curran is now suing the Humberside chief constable for alleged misfeasance in public office by officers under his direction.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has previously upheld a complaint from Mr Curran that an unnamed officer did describe Mr Curran as a “very dangerous paedophile” at a meeting with his employer, Liverpool local education authority (LEA).
Mr Curran was sacked in December 2004 and claims officers involved in a wide-ranging inquiry into historical abuse at St William’s deliberately sought to secure his dismissal despite his innocence.
Humberside Police denies the claim, which could result in signficant costs and damages, and denies the “paedophile” phrase and other highly prejudicial comments were made. But the force has lost an attempt to have the claim struck out with Judge Jeremy Richardson QC ruling there are clear grounds for the claim to proceed to trial.
His written judgement said: “It is quite clear that the police who investigated the case against the claimant were not pleased with the outcome and the claimant’s public exoneration.”
Police are expected to liaise with local authorities and responsibly share information on child protection issues.
The judgement noted the IPCC upheld Mr Curran’s complaint regarding the “paedophile” phrase and added: “It was adjudged that other unprofessional and unguarded remarks, comments and opinions were made and were ‘highly prejudicial’ to the claimant.”
The judge cited specific paragraphs from the IPCC report which he said “speak for themselves.”
One highlighted paragraph said: “…the actions of the officers, and officer B in particular, at the information sharing meeting can only be explained as malicious and seem to be calculated to ensure that despite his acquittal in court (the claimant) lost his job with the (LEA).”
The judgement also referred to a disciplinary report prepared by a senior official of Liverpool LEA following the acquittal, which said: “The police are confident that (the claimant) is guilty of making and being in possession of indecent images of children.”
Mr Curran was arrested in 2002 by Humberside officers over alleged abuse at St William’s, which closed in 1992. The home was staffed by the De La Salle Brotherhood, a Catholic lay order of which Mr Curran is a member.
No charges were brought against Mr Curran regarding child abuse. He was charged in relation to a small number of alleged indecent images of children found on computers following his arrest in Liverpool but the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case and Mr Curran was formally acquitted.
The IPCC appointed West Yorkshire Police to carry out an investigation – Operation Gullane – following a series of complaints about the Humberside force’s handling of the inquiry.
According to the IPCC report, Gullane found no evidence Mr Curran was at the relevant computer when the material was downloaded and that Gullane was also of the opinion that none of the material was illegal.
No trial date has yet been set. Mr Curran and Humberside Police declined to comment.