Paedophile seeks Facebook damages

Published Monday, 03 December 2012
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A convicted child sex offender who won a landmark case forcing Facebook into taking down a page monitoring paedophiles is seeking damages from the social networking giant.

Paedophile seeks Facebook damages
The man, known as XY, said he fears being burnt out of his home. (© Getty)

The High Court judge, who ordered the removal of the page and granted anonymity to the man, has also stressed that the ruling does not suppress information about him or his criminal record already in the public domain.

A detailed written version of his verdict discloses further details about the man's catalogue of crimes, including a first offence committed as a juvenile.

On Friday, Facebook was given 72 hours to take down a page that named paedophiles in Northern Ireland.

Although it complied with the order, a similar page sprung up within hours. Mr Justice McCloskey held that the contents of the original version amounted to prima facie harassment of the man and risked infringing his human rights.

The man at the centre of the case, known only as XY, has a total of 15 convictions for sexual offences and admitted six further charges in 2005. All of the offences were committed between 1982 and 1989.

He was released after serving half of a six year prison sentence, only to be detained for a further six months for breaching a condition of his licence.

The judge who sentenced the man reportedly expressed particular concern about his lack of insight into his offending.

It has also been confirmed that he first offended in 1980, when he was still a juvenile.

The man started his legal challenge when his found his photograph and threatening comments posted on the Facebook page.

He claimed harassment, misuse of private information, and a breach of his right to privacy and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.

Mr Justice McCloskey's written judgment discloses that one of the remedies being sought is a claim for damages against Facebook Ireland Ltd. That issue has not been determined, with the ruling only on interim relief.

The court heard the man fears being attacked or burnt out of his rented accommodation.

I am in fear for my safety and in a state of constant anxiety as I believe if this material continues to be published it will only be a matter of time before the threats materialise into an attack on me or my home.

'XY'

In a statement filed as part of his case he said:"The defendants are publishing comments intended to vilify me, some of which are directly threatening.

"By publishing this material about me, the defendants are providing a vehicle for others who may have criminal intent to gain information about where I live and to stir up hatred against me."

It was set out how he suffers from ill health, including heart problems, arthritis, kidney failure, and dialysis sessions three times a week and requires a Motability scooter to get about.

Mr Justice McCloskey ruled in his favour after balancing the competing rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

He pointed out that the interim injunction would cause minimal disruption to Facebook.

The judge added that details about the man's name, physical appearance, criminal record and whereabouts are already in the public domain.

"This information will remain in the public domain, come what may," he said."The order of this court does not suppress publication of this information in any way.

"Rather, it simply requires certain modest steps to be taken by the operator of a social networking site to ensure that, pending the substantive trial of this action, the plaintiff is not exposed to further conduct which I consider, to a high level of arguability, to be unlawful."

The judge also emphasised that cases of this type will be "intensely fact-sensitive".

He said: "The court is mindful of the contemporary controversy surrounding other contexts, such as online bullying of schoolchildren and the potentially appalling consequences of this gravely worrying phenomenon.

"This judgment does not speak directly to other contexts. Rather, it is confined to the particular litigation context in which is it provided."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
6 Comments
dawn in belfast wrote (636 days ago):
what a joke - this man doesn't care about the rights of others that he abuses but thinks that others should give one about his? I believe when you comint a crime like he has you should forfeit the right to privacy.
Lorraine in belfast wrote (636 days ago):
What about his victims human rights - not to sexually abused by ANYONE. The abuse will be with them forever. For him to receive compensation from facebook would be an insult to his victims.
man in moon wrote (636 days ago):
i supported the removal of the sit not because of their human rights because of the risk of inocent people who might end up on the list through missionaries resons and i hope he gets a lot of money and his victim takes every penny back of them and more
Fred Powell in Limavady wrote (636 days ago):
Why should a criminal make money from their crimes. I know he's done his time, but did he think about the trauma he put his victims throhgh.
sickened in mid ulster wrote (637 days ago):
this is unbelievable,what about the human rights of his victims,did he pay them damages???
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