Ruling will see Google remove thousands of pages of online abuse from search results

A former Morgan Stanley banker has reached an agreement with Google that will see pages of online abuse removed from the search results for his name.

Daniel Hegglin had taken Google to the High Court to remove the abuse, which included anonymous posts that he said wrongly called him a murderer, a paedophile and a Ku Klux Klan sympathiser, according to the BBC. The case began in July but the two parties said that they had settled the dispute this week.

"The settlement includes significant efforts on Google's part to remove the abusive material from Google-hosted websites and from its search results," Hegglin's lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson QC, told the court, according to the BBC. "Mr Hegglin will now concentrate his energies on bringing the person responsible for this campaign of harassment to justice."

Google had initially called for the case to go to court, with its lawyer arguing that the case had “every look of a test case with enormous consequences”. But the settlement, the terms of which have not been disclosed, happened out of court and will see Google remove the results.

The3 top result for Hegglin’s name still showed a Facebook post of abuse directed at Hegglin, though the clicking the link shows that the post has since been deleted. But the results page now also shows a notification that “In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 5 result(s) from this page”.

Because of the extent of the abuse — Hegglin said that there were more than 3,600 websites including the material — individual requests to remove the posts would have been expensive and ineffective, he said.

Hegglin now lives in Hong Kong but worked at investment bank Morgan Stanley for 24 years and began his career in London. He said that the online abuse, from an unknown person, had been increasing and that attempts to shut it down had been unsuccessful.

Though the case was launched around the same time as the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, it is understood to be unconnected to that case.