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Facebook will fight Northern Ireland court order to pay £20,000 damages to child abuser shamed on social media

A Belfast judge ordered the termination of the 'Keeping Our Kids Safe From Predators 2' Facebook page

By Alan Erwin

Published 16/04/2015

The judge said the Facebook page was an attempt to hunt a sex offender, drive him from his home and expose him to vilification
The judge said the Facebook page was an attempt to hunt a sex offender, drive him from his home and expose him to vilification

Facebook is to appeal a ruling that it must pay £20,000 in damages to a convicted child abuser who featured on its site, it emerged today.

The operator of a page set up to monitor paedophiles in Northern Ireland is also attempting to overturn the verdict which left him liable for the compensation award.

Lawyers representing both the social media giant and Joe McCloskey are understood to have lodged papers at the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

Both were held jointly liable for misusing private information in a landmark High Court decision in February.

Information published indiscriminately could have threatened public order and incited violence and hatred, a judge found.

Mr Justice Stephens also ordered a shut down of the 'Keeping Our Kids Safe From Predators 2' Facebook profile at the centre of the lawsuit.

The sex offender who brought the privacy action, identified only as CG, was released from jail in 2012 after serving a sentence for gross indecency and indecent assault offences against a young girl and a teenage boy.

Now aged in his forties, he remains under supervision by the authorities and has been assessed as posing no significant risk to the public.

He claimed harassment, violation of his right to privacy and breaches of the Data Protection Act against Facebook and Mr McCloskey after his photograph and details appeared on the page.

Amid a string of abusive comments and information on his location one user called for him to be hung while others endorsed shooting or castrating him.

In evidence CG also claimed he has been 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.

His lawyers argued that the campaign had reached the level of dangerous vigilantism.

Although the judge described CG's offences as representing "despicable criminal conduct", he stressed that sex offenders who have served their sentences are to be protected from others intent on harming them or driving them from their homes.

Ruling in favour of CG's right to privacy, he made an award of damages against the defendants in the total sum of £20,000.

Mr McCloskey was held to be liable for £15,000 of that amount.

Since the verdict two of CG's victims have issued writs against him.

An injunction was also secured to stop any payout to the sex offender until that litigation is dealt with.

But in a new twist it has now emerged that both Facebook and Mr McCloskey are separately attempting to overturn the original findings against them.

Their appeals are expected to be mentioned in front of senior judges sometime before the end of June.

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