Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Anti-abuse campaigner told not to publish information about child sex offender - court hears

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An anti-abuse campaigner has been given a High Court undertaking to publish nothing more about a child sex offender on either Facebook or any other social media.

As part of a final settlement to the convicted paedophile's legal action, Joe McCloskey today also pledged to immediately remove all references to him from online pages under his control.

The man, who served a jail sentence for a catalogue of abuse, has now been granted permanent anonymity by a judge overseeing the resolution.

Known only as XY, he issued proceedings against Facebook and Mr McCloskey over the contents of a page entitled 'Keeping our kids safe from predators'.

He went to court after discovering his photograph and a string of threatening comments had been posted online.

In November last year the social networking giant was ordered to take the page down due to the prima facie harassment and potential breach of the plaintiff's human rights.

Although it was removed, a new page under the heading 'Keeping our kids safe from predators 2' soon appeared.

Following the interim order XY pressed for a permanent injunction against both defendants.

It emerged during the case that he has a total of 15 convictions for sexual offences committed between 1982 and 1989.

They include six charges of indecent assault, six counts of gross indecency with a child and a further one of inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency.

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.

As a full hearing of the case was due to get underway it was confirmed today that agreement had been reached between the parties.

Alan Kane QC, for XY, told the court: "I am happy to say the matter has been satisfactorily resolved and has been committed to writing, subject to an application in respect of the continuance of anonymity."

Under the terms of the settlement his action against Facebook Ireland Ltd was dismissed.

Proceedings against Mr McCloskey were stayed on the basis that he undertakes not to publish, cause or permit to be posted or published any material relating to XY on any Facebook page controlled by him or via any other social media such as Twitter.

He further pledged to remove all references to the plaintiff from his Facebook pages.

With both XY and Mr McCloskey legally aided, no order for costs was made.

Endorsing the resolution, the judge said the case was about drawing a fair and reasonable line between types of comment.

"On the one side that which is unreasonable and disproportionate, and unacceptable, offensive, intimidatory, threatening and having no legitimate aim is unlawful," he said.

"Material which is merely offensive and harshly critical is likely to fall on the other side of the line which is considered lawful."

Reaffirming an earlier interim ban on XY being named, the judge added: "The factors which precipitated that order in my view retain the same force, vigour and merit as applied at the earlier stage.

"Accordingly the plaintiff's anonymity will be on a permanent basis."

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