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Belfast man to sue Google over allegations he's a police informant

By Alan Erwin

Published 18/12/2015

Lawyers have complained that a Google search called up cached material referring to the man as a police agent
Lawyers have complained that a Google search called up cached material referring to the man as a police agent

A Belfast man has been granted High Court permission to sue internet giant Google over allegations that he is a police informant.

His lawyers are seeking damages for misuse of private information and breach of the Data Protection Act.

The man, who cannot be identified, has already issued proceedings against a newspaper for publishing claims about his activities.

But the action is now set to be widened to include Google and those behind an online blog.

According to his legal team the company failed to remove material from the internet after he secured an injunction to stop further allegations appearing in the media.

They claim information online continued to identify him as providing information to state authorities about criminal activities.

Barrister Peter Girvan, appearing for the plaintiff, also complained that a Google search called up cached material referring to him as a police agent.

Some allegations were apparently blocked to prevent access by UK users, the court heard.

Googe accepted operating the search engine but denied being a data controller of any personal details on the plaintiff.

Due to the firm being based in America, the man's legal team had to seek leave to serve proceedings out of the jurisdiction.

Ruling on the application today, Mr Justice Horner held that the company is a "necessary or proper party" to the claim.

He said: "The plaintiff may for good reason decide that Google is a better target for damages than the other defendants."

According to the judge an arguable case has been established that any alleged damage to the man was due to acts committed within Northern Ireland.

He confirmed: "Northern Ireland is clearly and distinctly the most appropriate jurisdiction to hear these issues that arise between the plaintiff and the defendants in respect of the two causes of action."

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