R (HA) v University of Wolverhampton
General Pharmaceutical Council (intervening)
 EWHC 144 (Admin)
Spent Convictions and the MPharm Course: fitness to practice
In a judgment handed down this morning Mr Justice Julian Knowles declared unlawful and quashed the decision of the University of Wolverhampton excluding one of its accredited Master of Pharmacy (‘MPharm’) degree students (‘HA’) from the course on the basis that his fitness to practice was impaired as a result of having failed to declare prior to admission two convictions, received when he was aged 15. The judgment is here.
His Lordship held that HA’s Article 8 ECHR rights were engaged and that in reaching its decision to exclude him the University failed to have regard to mitigating circumstances, as it was required to do. In this case there were a number of mitigating factors that the panel should have taken into account including the fact that HS was only 14 years of age at date of offences and 15 at date of convictions, that he tried to tell the University about his convictions immediately after his induction course, that he expressed remorse for his actions, and that he had successfully completed his A-levels and was described by his sixth form as a ‘courteous and well behaved student’. Further the panel did not consider less intrusive sanctions as it was required to do both under the University policy and the principle of proportionality under Article 8 ECHR.
HA lives with his parents and siblings in inner-city Birmingham. Reliance on historic convictions in the way that the University here sought to do undoubtedly has an adverse effect on a disproportionate number of BAME students, or potential students. Unlike the University, this is something that the Government finally seems to be catching up to and the early signs appear positive, with much credit (and thanks) owed to champions like David Lammy MP, who recently concluded a review on racial bias and BAME representation in the Criminal Justice System. See ‘The Lammy Review: An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the Criminal Justice System’
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