A STORY in The Bolton News has come under the spotlight of the controversial new "right to be forgotten" ruling.

Google notified The Bolton News that the story about the jailing of three men for an attack on three soldiers in a nightclub is to be "erased" from Google searches under a controversial EU ruling.

The ruling means that some articles deemed "irrelevant or out of date" can be removed from its search engine results.

The 2010 story details a court case in which Ben Barlow, Christopher Mahoney and Christopher Brennan were jailed after they pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

A fourth man, 19-year-old Connor Bentham, of Barry Crescent, Worsley, had received a community order at an earlier hearing.

They had attacked a group of soldiers who had all served in Afghanistan.

The victims told the court they were more frightened in the pub than they had been on the front line.

Ian Savage, editor-in-chief of The Bolton News, said: “As the editor of a newspaper, I believe passionately in the freedom of the press and I will fight any attempts to remove legitimate content.

"We are a responsible newspaper and our aim is to cover local news which is of both interest and importance to people.

“Clearly, people who aren’t happy that stories which we have legitimately published should not have the right to have them removed from a Google search, in my view.

“Moreover, it is a completely pointless exercise. Those who ask for these articles to be removed simply invite more publicity on themselves.

“This was an extremely serious court case, which merited a front page when we ran it back in 2010.

"To have this disappear from Google searches is frankly ridiculous, which is why I feel it’s so important to highlight this issue.”

In the attack, the thugs glassed paratrooper Adam Evans in the neck and stabbed him in the leg.

Another of the soldiers, Jamie Morton, who was kicked and punched on the ground, said he feared he was going to die.

At the trial of the three men, Judge William Morris said: “These victims were all injured. Mr Evans was very gravely injured indeed.”

Google has not revealed who asked for the article to be removed from its results.

Our story, which was on our front page on October 8, 2010, is still online and can be read here.

The story is also still discoverable via Google searches, and it is not clear what search terms are affected by the move.

The controversial "right to be forgotten" ruling, which only affects Google sites in the EU, has been opposed by the press and press freedom campaigners.

It has already affected five other stories from newspapers owned by Newsquest, The Bolton News' parent company, as well as stories from other regional and national titles.

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