Belfast Telegraph

Facebook 'vigilante' accused of posting rapist's address

A man who denies running a Facebook witch-hunt against paedophiles is to be asked to reveal whether he posted a rapist's exact address, the High Court heard today.

Counsel for Joe McCloskey confirmed he will seek to provide any un-redacted version of new evidence in a potential landmark civil action.

A judge also heard claims that the campaigner was hiding material that could aid the lawsuit brought against him by a convicted child molester.

Mr McCloskey and Facebook are being jointly sued for damages by the sex offender.

The man, who cannot be identified, is claiming misuse of private information, harassment and breaches of the data protection act.

Proceedings were launched after his photograph and details appeared last year on 'Keeping our kids safe from predators II', a Facebook page administrated by Mr McCloskey.

He alleges that amid abusive comments on it others were inciting violence against him and trying to find out where he lives.

One user called for him to be hung while others endorsed shooting him.

The man claimed he was then threatened with being thrown off a pier during a fishing trip, hounded out of a cinema and had to use a supermarket trolley to fight off another tormentor.

Mr McCloskey told the court he has "named and shamed" 400 sex offenders through the page set up to monitor paedophiles.

He also claimed his site has helped secure seven convictions.

But he denied being responsible for a witch-hunt or hate campaign, stressing that he included a disclaimer opposing any violence of intimidation.

In evidence he said he would remove any exact addresses for offenders if they were put on the page.

However, lawyers for the plaintiff have now challenged his assertion based on material discovered during a Google search.

The court heard postings attributed to Mr McCloskey were referred to on a website for sex offenders.

In one he comments on a rapist "living in flats near...". Other parts of the posting have been blanked out.

As legal submissions got underway in the case, Mr Justice Stephens said the potential inference to be drawn was that the defendant does provide addresses.

He told Barry McKenna, appearing for Mr McCloskey: "Your client can find out what the un-redacted posting is."

The barrister confirmed that he had asked him to do that.

Peter Girvan, for the plaintiff, also pointed to other references to hammers despite Mr McCloskey insisting he never incited violence.

"It seems he was deliberately hiding materials from the plaintiff that assisted in his case," Mr Girvan added.

The hearing continues.

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