Case of Natasha – Online links hampering chances of promotion
Natasha was working as a teacher when she was convicted of fraud four years ago and received a five month suspended prison sentence. It is now spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Since her conviction, she has worked hard to rebuild her reputation. However, the presence of a story about her online has had a serious effect on her ability to move on and has caused her significant financial loss.
On one occasion a job offer was withdrawn after her potential employers carried out an ‘informal’ online check on her name. She had disclosed her conviction to them at interview but they believed that the presence of the online story would be ‘brand damaging’ to the school.
Although Natasha has recently secured a teaching job, she has had to go back into an entry-level role. Her current employer has told her that the opportunity for her to progress is limited all the time the article appears online. He believes that if she were promoted into a more high profile role there could be a ‘back-lash’ from parents concerned that their children were being taught by somebody with a criminal record.
“Despite some of the negative comments, I’ve received sympathy and support from several pupils who’d seen the online stories about me. Although they were incredibly understanding, it made me feel anxious and humiliated the next time I had to stand up in front of them and teach. The story makes me feel less credible as a teacher.”
Not only have the stories affected her professionally but also on a personal level. Whilst collecting her daughter from school she was recently physically assaulted by another parent who had read about her conviction online.
Natasha accepts that what she did was wrong and realises that she has been very fortunate to have been offered a job. Her employers accept that she is no risk to children and more than capable of doing the job she’s employed to do. However, there have been others who have revoked job offers after reading the information online. She is concerned that what she has achieved since her conviction is as far as she will be able to go.
Natasha has made several applications to Google to have the links to her name removed and has also complained to the Information Commissioners Office. Google have refused to remove the links stating that her case is still of public interest especially as she was in a position of trust at the time of her conviction. She has yet to receive a response from the ICO.
Notes about this case
- This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on the google effect.
- We have practical guidance on dealing with information on the internet, online and through search engines like Google.
- Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
- Other policy cases are listed here.