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George Galloway to sue Google and Willie Frazer over Isis rant at Belfast protest

Allegations that Galloway supported terrorist beheadings were broadcast in YouTube video filmed at a Belfast protest

By Alan Erwin

Published 27/01/2016

Willie Frazer accepted he may have gone too far in calling George Galloway "a scumbag"
Willie Frazer accepted he may have gone too far in calling George Galloway "a scumbag"

George Galloway has won permission to sue internet giant Google over a loyalist protest where he was described as a "tramp" who supported terrorist beheadings.

A High Court judge dismissed an attempt to stop the former Respect MP serving libel and harassment proceedings on the company at its US headquarters.

Loyalist protesters outside the venue
Loyalist protesters outside the venue

The action, which includes a further claim for misuse of private information, is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in Europe over comments broadcast on YouTube.

Victims campaigner Willie Frazer is also being sued for the allegations made at a picket outside the Ulster Hall in Belfast as Mr Galloway appeared at a public speaking event in August 2014.

The verdict, which clears the way for writs to be served outside Northern Ireland, represents a significant step forward in the politician's claim for damages.

He said in a statement: "Defeat in this case would have been financially ruinous to me which is of course what the corporations count on in such cases. 

"They have limitless resources not least because they pay almost no taxes."

Protests outside the Ulster Hall event, billed as Saturday Night with George Galloway, had centred on his earlier reference to Bradford being an Israeli free area. 

The former MP claims Mr Frazer used the opportunity to slander his name with a series of "vitriolic, abusive, sectarian and wholly untrue speeches", both directly to camera and by megaphone to gathered demonstrators.

They included claims of being a scumbag and a tramp, that he is anti-Protestant and supports Islamic terrorists who behead British and American citizens - all categorically denied.

The material allegedly broadcast by Mr Frazer on YouTube, which is owned by Google, was said to have been viewed more than 17,000 times.

An application was made by the internet firm to set aside an order granting leave for Mr Galloway to serve proceedings at its registered offices in Delaware.

But dismissing the legal move today, Mr Justice Horner granted leave to continue with the action.

He said: "Accusing an elected politician of being a supporter of terrorism and of the people who are 'beheading American citizens' is going to alarm anyone so accused and to cause him distress."

The judge held there is a good arguable case on claims of harassment, involving an alleged 23 day period when nothing was done to remove the YouTube footage.

Mr Galloway's solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law said, described the verdict as "a massive result".

He said: "George enjoys a reputation as a robust and fearless politician who will never shirk from an argument.

"This shouldn't mean that it's open season to vilify him in social media. His decision to go to court and protect his reputation has been vindicated today."

Mr Winters added: "It represents a first time judicial intervention in what is a complex and evolving area of law to force YouTube to remove scandalous material.

"This was a bitterly contested application but the Ruling now allows him to proceed to the next stage in his action."

Although Mr Galloway was not present in court, his statement continued: "Tax dodging global corporations like Google act like they are a law onto themselves. The court has just demonstrated otherwise."

His claim for damages is expected to be heard in full later this year.

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