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Conviction disclosure ruling due

The Supreme Court is today due to rule on whether job applicants should be forced to disclose all convictions to certain potential employers.

Home Secretary Theresa May - and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling - have asked Supreme Court justices to consider whether disclosure requirements were compatible with human rights legislation.

Five justices examined the issue at a hearing in London in late 2013 and are scheduled to deliver a ruling this morning.

Lawyers representing Mrs May and Mr Grayling appealed to the Supreme Court following a ruling by the Court of Appeal in January.

Three appeal judges said legislation requiring job applicants to disclose all convictions was a breach of human rights law.

They said provisions of two pieces of legislation were incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - which enshrines the right to private and family life.

Mrs May and Mr Grayling introduced amendments in the wake of the Court of Appeal ruling.

But they maintained that the appeal court decision was wrong.

And their lawyers asked for a Supreme Court ruling so that the ''correct position'' could be established.

A High Court judge had initially ruled in favour of the Home Office but that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Judges had been asked for rulings after campaigners called for reform of blanket provisions requiring applicants to disclose all convictions and cautions.

Lawyers representing a man who had applied for a part-time job with a football club and then for a university sports studies course had launched the case in the High Court.

They complained that police warnings he received following the theft of two bikes when he was 11 had been unreasonably disclosed when he made the applications years later.

The issue hit the headlines a decade ago following the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman - both 10 - in Soham, Cambridgeshire. School caretaker Ian Huntley was convicted of murdering the girls.

Education authority officials said they had not been aware of the full extent of Huntley's past involvement with police - and the case led to procedures being tightened.

Lawyers for Mrs May and Mr Grayling argued that the appeal court ruling was too broad and ''surprising''.

They said the ruling could affect hundreds of thousands of recruitment decisions where convictions were ''plainly relevant''.

And they said future policy should be ''informed'' by a Supreme Court decision.

Lawyers said courts were analysing a ''complex and controversial'' area. They said ministers had taken the view that potential employers should be provided with ''full information'' so they could decide to what extent applicants' past conduct was relevant.

Civil liberties campaigners had welcomed the appeal court ruling as sensible and said a more ''nuanced'' disclosure system would be better.

Campaign group Liberty said people's lives had been ''blighted'' as a result of ''irrelevant'' information being disclosed under a ''blanket Criminal Records Bureau system''.


From Belfast Telegraph