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Judgment reserved in appeal over payout to paedophile who featured on Facebook page

Facebook 'indifferent' to fate of child abuser featured on name and shame page

By Alan Erwin

Published 06/04/2016

Court: Joe McCloskey
Court: Joe McCloskey

Facebook was "indifferent" to the fate of a child abuser featured on a page set up to name and shame paedophiles in Northern Ireland, a court has heard.

The sex offender was awarded £20,000 damages over his exposure on the site and claimed attempts to get his details removed were not properly dealt with.

Facebook and page operator Joe McCloskey are challenging a verdict that they were liable to the man, identified only as CG.

Judgment was reserved following two days of argument at the Court of Appeal in Belfast.

Mr McCloskey, from Limavady, failed to turn up for the hearing amid uncertainty over legal aid.

He was sued along with the social media giant after CG's photograph and details appeared on a page called Keeping Our Kids Safe From Predators 2.

In a ruling last year, the High Court held both defendants liable for misusing private information and ordered the payout.

The sex offender who brought the privacy action was released from jail in 2012 and claimed he suffered harassment and violation of his right to privacy because of the page.

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

A lawyer for Facebook yesterday challenged the finding it was liable for misuse of information. Antony White QC said there was a failure to properly identify the unlawful material.

He told the court: "One feature of this case is to encourage those who complain about postings to take seriously the writing of letters of complaint."

But Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing CG, challenged the social network's response. "Facebook were really indifferent to the fate of the plaintiff," he claimed.

"They know this was a page being used for this purpose and they actually never responded to the letters from the solicitors."

Adding that lawyers for the site replied by advising the use of its notice and take down procedure, Mr Tomlinson alleged that Facebook "closed their minds".

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pledged to deliver judgment as soon as possible.

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