Nulty erases his memory spank
THE DISGRACED former TD who sent lewd facebook messages to a schoolgirl has been granted the “right to be forgotten” by web giant Google.
Patrick Nulty has used the controversial European Court ruling to try and prevent people searching for online Sunday World articles which exposed how he sent inappropriate messages to teens and women who approached him for help as their local TD.
The most shocking message was one sent from Leinster House asking a 17-year-old girl if she had “ever been spanked”.
Others asked domestic violence victims if they thought “a slap on the bum was ok”, while he also asked a female constituent to send him her underwear.
Nulty quit the Dáil when we exposed him, but he is now trying to airbrush his past from global search engine Google.
This weekend the family of one of Nulty’s victims said he shouldn’t have the right to erase his history.
The former west Dublin Labour and then Independent TD (32), resigned last year over sending grossly inappropriate messages.
He had asked the 17-year-old student if she wanted to play “truth or dare” and if she was “being good”.
Nulty initially claimed his phone had been hacked, but eventually admitted to sending the messages after we presented him with geotagging evidence which showed the messages were sent from inside Leinster House.
It later emerged Nulty, from Clonsilla in west Dublin, had sent inappropriate messages to at least a dozen women who came to him looking for help in his capacity as a TD.
Despite abusing his position and power as an elected official, he has now used a controversial European Court ruling to prevent people from accessing the Sunday World articles through Google.
Despite the fact that the veracity of the articles has never been in doubt, Nulty can hide them from public view.
The European Court ruled last year that search engines such as Google have to remove links to content deemed “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” if a person mentioned in the articles requests their removal.
While the articles are still on sundayworld.com, people who enter certain search terms on Google will not find links to them.
Nulty has successfully used the right to be forgotten ruling for five specific articles, all posted on the Sunday World website last year.
A Google spokesman told the Sunday World: “Due to a request under data protection law in Europe, we are no longer able to show one or more pages from your site in our search results in response to some search queries for names or other personal identifiers. Only results on European versions of Google are affected.”
The Sunday World has launched an appeal to Google over the matter on the grounds of public interest.
A relative of the teenage girl who was sent messages by Nulty said he wasn’t happy to hear the former TD has used the controversial ruling.
“It’s odd, but he’s an odd man. He shouldn’t have the right to be forgotten. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Google has been removing page links from its search engine since a landmark European Court of Justice ruling in May 2014. That came after a man complained to Google in Spain about a link to a news article printed in 1998.
Last year, Google was asked to hide links to a Wikipedia page on former armed robber Gerry ‘the Monk’ Hutch, but only under certain search terms.
Searching for ‘Gerry Hutch’ and ‘Wikipedia’ still brings up the link to the page, so it is believed somebody else mentioned on the page requested it be hidden when certain other words are typed in to Google.
Google does not disclose the identity of the person who asks for the links to be removed, but the person complaining has to be named on the webpage.
Complainants must supply identity verification to prove the links relate either to themselves, or that they have the legal authority to act on the complainant’s behalf. In Nulty’s case, he is the only person named in all five articles, so he is the only one who could have requested they be blocked.
In February, Google revealed it had removed more than 260,000 links from search results as a result of the right to be forgotten ruling. The ruling only applies in Europe so internet users in other parts of the world will still see the articles in search engines.
Ironically, Nulty winning the right to be forgotten will once again draw attention to his acts and what he plans to do next.
After the initial story broke, more than 10 other women came forward to the Sunday World say Nulty had sent them inappropriate messages.
In all of the cases, the vulnerable women had come forward to him looking for help in his role as a TD.
After one victim of domestic violence detailed her ordeal to Nulty, he asked her on a date.
Another domestic violence victim went to him for help with her secure rent allowance. He sent her a messages saying punching a woman wasn’t okay, but shockingly asked her: “Do you think a slap on the behind is acceptable in certain situations?”
He said while he wasn’t advocating domestic violence there was some “middle ground”.
He asked another constituent to send him her underwear in the post, while another woman was shocked to be told to wear a skirt and not jeans to a meeting with him.
Freedom of speech advocates have slammed the right to be forgotten ruling. Index on Censorship said the court ruling should “send chills down the spine of everyone in the European Union who believes in the crucial importance of free expression and freedom of information”.
Last year, Wikipedia described the rule as “unforgivable censorship”.
“We are on a path to secret, online sanitation of truthful information,” said Geoff Brigham, general counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation.
Latest figures show that Google has received requests from 2,186 people in Ireland to hide search results relating to them.