Dark secret | Worker dismissed after hiding sex offender conviction from employer

Worker dismissed after hiding sex offender conviction from employer

A UK law firm worker was barred from the profession after not disclosing he had been convicted of possessing indecent images of children to his employer.

Mark Sinclair was employed as a Learning and Development Manager at Ashurst, an international law firm, when he was convicted, the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed.

Sinclair worked for Ashurst between February 2019 and October 2021, when in February 2021 Sinclair pleaded guilty to three accounts of indecency relating to categories A, B and C over a six-year period, which he failed to tell his employer.

Reportedly, Sinclair was caught with 45 images on different devices, with category A being the most serious.

Based on the seriousness of the conviction, the SRA ruled that Sinclair would no longer be able to work in the legal profession.

A spokesperson from the law firm said: “We can confirm that, while working at Ashurst, Mr Sinclair was convicted of offences which took place prior to his employment at the firm. As soon as the firm became aware we conducted a thorough investigation, which resulted in dismissal.”

Attitudes to convictions in the workplace

In the paper Progress & Prejudice: Shifts in UK employer attitudes towards hiring people with convictions, it’s revealed that attitudes towards employing workers with criminal convictions are changing.

In 2022, 45% of employers said they would recruit someone with a conviction compared to 25% in 2010. While twice as many employers, compared to in 2016, recognise the advantages of hiring someone with a conviction, such as providing different perspectives, tackling labour shortages, and improving diversity and inclusion.

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In contrast, the same study revealed that 30% of employers would automatically exclude a candidate who declared a conviction, even though only 15% said it was a part of their firm’s recruitment policy to reject applicants with criminal records.

The research found that candidates with a criminal conviction have the lowest interview to hire conversion rate. Additionally, factors such as gender made virtually no difference to whether an employer would hire a candidate with a past conviction, the nature of the offense being a key consideration in whether they were employed. This suggests that even though attitudes are changing amongst employers, many aren't hiring those with convictions based on prejudice as opposed to it being a part of company policy.



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