A financial IT worker is suing London's Metropolitan Police for £1m after claiming the force recorded an identity fraudster's criminal conviction against his name.
Adekunle "Femi" Adenuga claims police workers wrongly recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC) that he had been convicted of fraud, causing him to lose out on job opportunities during the 2000s.
In legal filings seen by The Register, the 50-year-old explained that "a person unknown to him stole his identity and was convicted of an offence of deception". He said that police recorded a fraud conviction against his name on the PNC in May 2002, something he did not discover until he made a Subject Access Request (SAR) in 2014 under the Data Protection Act.
Police say that what they actually recorded was on a separate system from the PNC: the Met's internal Crime Reporting Information Service (CRIS).
In between the conviction being recorded and the 2014 SAR, Adenuga had been trying to get a new job in the financial IT sector. Claiming that he had sent "thousands" of applications with no success, he said in his particulars of claim that financial organisations regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) were able to check his criminal record. Once they saw a fraud conviction against his name, Adenuga argued, they immediately dropped him.
A 2016 investigation by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) revealed that the FCA had obtained ongoing, illicit access to the PNC.
The police version of events
Responding to Adenuga's claim, police solicitors Remi Reichhold and Mark Davis alleged that Adenuga had "no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim" and no real prospect of success, contending that it ought to be struck out without a trial. They also said it was filed "out of time", after the six-year limitation period for Data Protection Act claims.
Reichhold and Davis added that the PNC "contains no reference to a conviction" against Adenuga's name. In addition, they gave a detailed version of what they say happened.
On 11 March 2002 at 13.00, a man (hereinafter 'X') was arrested at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 on suspicion of attempting to board a flight with a passport not belonging him, or a false passport. It transpired that X had attempted to board a flight with a genuine British passport in the name of Claimant… On 12 March 2002 at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court, X pleaded guilty to (i) attempting/obtaining a service by deception and (ii) entering the UK without leave. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. The circumstances of this offence were recorded in a crime report on the Metropolitan Police Service Crime Reporting Information System.
The Met's lawyers quoted from an October 2015 letter the force sent to Adenuga which appeared to admit that he had been wrongly listed as a suspect in the case of X. Police, however, did not delete their CRIS entry and instead tacked a note onto it saying: "Mr Adekunle ADENUGA is listed a Suspect in this report. This is incorrect. The suspect was using the identification (passport) in the name of Mr Adekunle ADENUGA."
In any case, the police argue, Adenuga's legal claim has mixed up two key computer systems and so it is doomed to failure.
"It would appear that the Claimant's claim is premised on a misapprehension as to the difference between a PNC record (which records convictions and can potentially be accessed by certain organisations other than the police) and a CRIS report, which is a contemporaneous record of a police investigation and is only accessible to the police," said the Met's lawyers in their filed defence.
Adenuga argues the Met was negligent, breached its statutory duties, breached the Human Rights Act and broke the Data Protection Act 1998. He claims a total of £1,073,227, made up of £535,374 for loss of earnings and unemployment resulting from the Met's actions; £113,499 in interest; and £424,354 for future loss of earnings and retraining. He has also set up a crowdfunding page where he says that he was unable to renew his passport as a result of the fake fraud conviction.
Though he admitted he had been arrested a couple of times for minor matters, Adenuga said he has "never had a previous conviction".
The police force told The Register: "We are aware of a claim brought against the MPS. It would be inappropriate for us to comment at this stage."
The case is expected to be heard later this year. ®