by Mary

 

In November 2009 I was dismissed from the post of a Council Principal Librarian. Although I had had an unblemished professional record since 1975, I became the victim of bullying and harassment by a jealous colleague who was acting up in the role of head of service. I was accused of having books at home that I hadn’t issued – books which I was using for work purposes to prepare for family learning outreach service.  The Council took out a private prosecution against me and, on the advice of my solicitor, I fought this unfair prosecution and insisted on fighting it through to Crown Court. But I was convicted of Fraud and Theft in January 2010. I was dismissed from my post two months before this verdict.

I spent 3 years trying to gain employment, but had several offers retracted when the Council sent in a bad, damning reference.  I made prospective employers fully aware of my background and the circumstances of my conviction. In the light of my explanation and excellent references from previous employers, and an account of my court case, I was offered my current job as a Librarian by a local Trust in July 2012. I have been praised for my performance in my job and have received straight ‘A’s in my assessments.

About 6 weeks after I started, I received a telephone call from a reporter who told me that they had received an anonymous letter about my conviction.  This can only have come from someone at my previous employers, the Council. I know this because the letter contained information that only the Council’s HR Dept. knew. The newspaper published an article, which was an exact reprint of what had appeared in the local press at the time of my conviction and about which I had made my current employer fully aware.

I was mortified by this article but, at the time, my employing Trust were supportive. My boss briefed our Press Office about the issue and gave out a statement saying that they are an equal opportunities employer and had considered all of the facts when they appointed me.  They also offered me counselling. The only feedback the paper received about the article was very positive for the council, saying that it was to their credit that they had given me a chance.  They could easily have fired me, but they didn’t.

Then, in June 2013, because things seemed to be going so well, I applied for promotion. But my application was rejected outright, without the chance of an interview, purely because my conviction was unspent. I was told by the Chief Executive that my application was by far the best they had received, but I was also told that I would be an embarrassment to the Trust and that I couldn’t be trusted.

I’m an honest and hardworking person, and I have proved it. My conviction, for taking books home to work on, was purely driven by malice. The Police weren’t interested. It was a personal vendetta continued with anonymous letters to the press. As a result, I have a permanent record for dishonesty and have hit a ‘glass ceiling’ where I cannot progress in my career as a result of an unspent conviction.

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