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Friday, 29 August 2014

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Inquiry after papers blunder at Carlisle court

The criminal record of a man from Northern Ireland convicted of “offences against the state” was mistakenly handed over to a defendant at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court.

Police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) officials have launched an investigation into why the documents were disclosed to Penrith man David Thompson.

The 52-year-old was in court for a hearing after being accused of using threatening behaviour – an allegation that he denies which will go to trial later this month.

But Mr Thompson, from Carleton Hall Walk, Penrith, said he was given papers about his case early this week by a CPS official during a preliminary hearing.

“When I got home and looked through the paperwork, I was shocked to find that there was a full criminal history of this other man, from Antrim in Northern Ireland,” he told the News & Star. “There was a full list of the offences he’s committed, and they include offences against the state.”

The documents included details of offences that include indecent behaviour and causing grievous bodily harm. It is not known whether the crimes described as “offences against the state” were linked in any way to terrorism.

Clearly stated on the first page of the criminal history summary is the man’s name, his date of birth – he is 20 years younger than Mr Thompson – and his address.

Mr Thompson added: “It’s a bit annoying, really.

“I was worried that they’d got me mixed up with this other guy, and it’s not fair on him to have his personal details handed over to somebody else like that.”

A spokeswoman for Cumbria CPS said: “A file of evidence was provided to the CPS by Cumbria Constabulary, which included a record of previous convictions.

“All of the relevant material was later disclosed to the defence in the usual way.

“The record of previous convictions provided by the police in fact related to another individual. We are aware of the importance of protecting personal information and regret that this happened.

“We will be liaising with Cumbria Constabulary to investigate this particular incident and we will endeavour to do all we can to avoid this happening again”

A Cumbria Police spokeswoman added: “This incident has been brought to our attention and we are investigating thoroughly to establish exactly what has happened and will be liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service. We take confidentiality very seriously, and are committed to providing a professional service and will take any action necessary.”

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