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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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My question concerns employment law. Over 20 years ago in a

different area to where I... Show More
different area to where I now live I was charged with committing a sexual offence to which I pleaded not guilty. (The alleged offence didn’t involve children.) The charge was dropped by the magistrates but I had to agree to be bound over to keep the peace which, on advice from a barrister representing me, I agreed to do even though there was nothing to indicate that I had ‘breached the peace’. The alternative would have been to continue with a plea of not guilty at a trial where all the allegations would have been printed along with my name. Unfortunately for me after this the unproven allegations were printed in the press in a style which indicated they actually happened when in fact they were mere allegations.. So even though I was not found guilty it read as though I was guilty.
I was advised not to make a fuss about the press covering the matter in that way. I was told that objecting would only lead to even more publicity. I was working as a teacher at the time and continued to do so after the case details were published in the press so I wanted to avid publicity. Since I had done no wrong I was allowed to continue teaching and did so for many years afterwards.
I have now moved away and have worked as a company secretary for the last 4 years. Recently I had a disagreement with a director of the company about whom I have made a complaint and as a result he has threatened to tell all my colleagues about 'something he knows about me' and I think its the above information. He has sent an email –which I have a copy of- to three work friends stating that he 'has something' which will make me resign and not sue for dismissal. I don't want to lose my job I cannot afford to and I don't want to go through what I went through 20 years ago again. My wife knows nothing of this since we didn’t know each other 20 years ago and I am worried that she may find out if I lose my job. My contract of employment has nothing in it which asking if I have a criminal record I only have the binding over order on my record anyway-– in fact no contract has ever been issued to me.
How can I stop the director from carrying out this threat and how do I stand legally if he does?
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My name is***** and I'm happy to help with your question today.
The bind over is not a conviction nor is it an admission of guilt. The bind over is a promise to keep the peace for a period of time.
With the amount of time that's passed the bind over is well and truly spent. It is, therefore, unlawful for your employer to hold this matter against you. Section 4 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 states:
"The person....shall be treated for all purposes in law as a person who has not committed or been charged with or prosecuted for or convicted of or sentenced for the offence or offences which were the subject of that conviction; and, notwithstanding the provisions of any other enactment or rule of law to the contrary..."
So any attempt to use this old matter against you in order to remove you from your position would be unlawful and give rise to a claim for unfair dismissal.
Furthermore, if the other person publishes incorrect information about you to third parties with the intention of damaging your character such act will probably amount to libel. There is unlikely to be a defence to this because of the age of the matter.
The best way to deal with this matter is to make it clear to the director, in writing, that you have learned of his e-mails and any attempt to damage your character will result in claims for defamation/libel and a claim to the employment tribunal on the basis of harassment.
I am happy to discuss matters further if you wish.
Customer reply replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for that its reassuring to an extent for me to read it. The newspaper stated what the alleged victim said had happened and that I denied it and that I agreed to be bound over to keep the peace. It was misleading rather than being untrue. Anyone reading it then would think I had ben found guilty because of their ignorance about binding over orders. So repeating it is will be the same- anyone showing this information around will say "well it was true"

I understand. Unfortunately it's too late to take any action against the newspaper now. But anyone repeating the information in the newspaper must give a fair and accurate account of the report. Repeating a mistake and relying on that as a defence will not be sufficient.

I am following up our conversation to see how you got on with the issue. If you need any further help then please let me know - remember I am a qualified UK Solicitor and able to help on most aspects of English Law. I am London based and usually able to respond to your query very quickly.

Alex Hughes