As you may know, I was a first-year student and forced to leave and it was a long story, I have posted here. My question is: since I pledged myself to be honest and tell the truth, the interviewers when they hear that they are negatively affected. Recently, I have applied for a position and I was shortlisted to 4, and then when they heard my case they told me we want someone who can commit, I told them my story positively and never mentioned any negativity. I have received an email from ex-PI who forced me to leave asking that he received an email from the interviewer and I saw the email that he is extremely interested, and the ex-PI asked me what I have told them about the lab so that he can be consistent with my words, honestly, I didn't have a good intention from his email, I have been always honest and candid, but the ex-PI used to lie based on multiple situations. I have been rejected. I am struggling as I was blamed and honestly, the reason for leaving is that I am an independent researcher and ex-PI didn't like that. However, I look through interview embarrassed sometimes and a nervous little bit because of their reaction like have a taboo. I don't want to lose any future interviews, I have noticed that students apply elsewhere and don't mention they are a current student in a specific program, however, my situation is awkward as I spent one year and my name is still indexed in their website although my webpage is removed. Please, suggestion, should I hide it, but I tell myself it isn't ethical.
It is typical in applying for a job, graduate program, etc, to account for how you've spent your past time. If you are an undergraduate student for some years, then maybe a master's student, and then there is a gap in your resume from when you were a PhD student, it will jump out at anyone reviewing your application.
It doesn't look good that you've left your program, but it looks worse if you have no answer for how you spent that time, and worst of all if it becomes clear you intended to mask your time as a previous grad student.
No matter how you go about this, it looks bad that you did not complete a PhD program. Applicants for a PhD are assessed primarily based on their perceived likelihood to be a successful PhD student. As a past unsuccessful PhD student, that perceived likelihood decreases, especially if your past PI says bad things about you and people believe them.
In the short term, you likely need to gather some new references. You need people who can vouch for your ability and potential as a researcher. Depending on your field, the availability of such positions may be limited, but in my own field I would advise taking up employment in an academic lab as a technician. The barrier to entry is much less than for a PhD position where an institution is dedicating themselves to you over several years. Your PI in that lab will be able to recommend you to programs that you subsequently apply to, and confirm to them that your prior experience was a fluke.
You asked for candid advice, and I am doing my best to give it. If I was reviewing your application, and saw that you left a PhD program after a year, I would not want to take you on as a student. Regardless of whose fault it is, there are many many qualified candidates for most PhD programs. If you got grants and publications, that may help, but you still have clearly had a personal conflict with your past PI and have accused them of many bad things. The last thing I would want would be to take you on as a student, bright as you may be, and then be accused of similar things myself. I wouldn't have any objective information to assess whether you are a victim as you claim or not, unless someone else, whose input I trust, gives me information about the situation.
In addition to Bryan's excellent answer, it should be noted that depending on the policies of the school you are applying to, omitting details of attending a previous PhD program from your application can be considered sufficient grounds to revoke offers of admission. Therefore, if you are directly asked about your past experience, you should not attempt to lie about it, either directly or by omission.
When evaluating an applicant people look at tangibles and non tangibles. Tangibles would be publications, research attachments, grades, awards etc. Intangibles are things like your personal statement, and more importantly your referees.
If your only reference is from your advisor you may be in trouble. You need to find a good academic figure who’ll vouch for your research potential and explain the situation with your advisor. If you can’t think of one then you may have a problem getting in. If your advisor is actively sabotaging you then it may border on unprofessional conduct but I don’t know for sure. It may be wise to reach out to a department head or student ombudsman who’ll probably just ask the advisor to let you go in peace.
Sorry about your situation, it sucks...
My advice is to not mention a single year of work somewhere else. It gets lost in the noise when you are looking back at your life from many years in the future. Plus Europe can be very fussy and cloistered and cronyish.
Actually maybe you should bail from academia. Go drive trucks in the Permian. Well maybe that is a little much. But get involved in US E&P. It's still America out there. At least for now.