'Human error' sees Shropshire pub landlord wrongly labelled a paedophile
A pub landlord was wrongly branded as a sex offender after police attributed another man’s convictions to him.
Darren Price has received an apology from West Mercia Police, which blamed “human error”.
But Mr Price today said the mistake has wrongly led to him being branded a paedophile by people in his community.
Following a series of investigations West Mercia Police has written to Mr Price, who runs the Boar's Head in Bishop’s Castle, to offer its “sincerest apologies”.
The bizarre incident involved a list of convictions relating to a different man with the same name becoming public knowledge in the town.
Mr Price said he had become victim of a whispering campaign that has left him and his partner at the receiving end of homophobic abuse.
The police apology comes after the force’s Professional Standards Division and the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld his complaint.
The issue is linked to a harassment court battle involving him and another resident that was investigated by the area’s safer neighbourhood team.
The letter from Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said: “I can see that Professional Standards Division upheld your complaint that a breach of data protection had occurred.”
Mr Evans said the “previous convictions of a different person” were sent to the solicitor of the man in the harassment case. But he said the “error could not be ascribed to any named officer”.
The senior officer continues: “Whilst I appreciate that you may not feel you have had adequate redress for the issues this error has created, please allow me to offer my sincerest apologies on behalf of West Mercia Police for any distress that this has caused.
“I am aware you have been through a difficult period linked to the named person, and this will have only added to that.
"I would hope you can accept that this was a genuine mistake with no intent to cause you harm.
"We have accepted responsibility for this and will look to ensure that such errors are not replicated in future.”
Mr Price, 49, said: “This is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.
"I am now known as a sex offender and not everybody is going to be persuaded that that is not true.”
The force said the mistake was due to “human error” after the wrong document was put in the case file it sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Force spokeswoman Deputy Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman said: “Following an investigation by the IOPC and our own Professional Standards Department it has not been possible to identify who made this error”.
She added: “The reasons for our apology are detailed in the letter to Mr Price in that there was a breach of data protection on our part.
"We deeply regret the harm and distress this mistake has caused and we will work to ensure that such errors are not replicated in the future.”
Mr Price’s solicitor Adrian Roberts said the force now needs to take direct action within the community to redress the mistake.
Mr Roberts said: “The genie has got out of the bottle.
“They ought to make it perfectly clear that they have caused this problem and that this Darren Price isn’t the person they have made him out to be, and he shouldn’t have to be dealing with the homophobic behaviour that this issue has caused.
“The police have apologised for disclosing the convictions of another Darren Price, but there is nothing to resolve the issue at local level because people are already convinced that he is a sex offender.
"He has had to fight for two years to get that letter, engage a solicitor and before seeking the help of an MP. Whilst they have sent a letter we have to question if they intended to address the underlying problems.”
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