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Larne hacker Aaron Sterritt loses legal battle over media identification


Aaron Sterritt was involved in hacking telecom giant TalkTalk

Aaron Sterritt was involved in hacking telecom giant TalkTalk

Aaron Sterritt was involved in hacking telecom giant TalkTalk

A Co Antrim man involved in hacking telecom giant TalkTalk has lost his legal battle over being identified in the media as a schoolboy suspect.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims 21-year-old Aaron Sterritt's human rights were unlawfully breached through being named before criminal charges were brought.

Judges also confirmed that an anonymity order in the case can be lifted.

Sterritt, with an address at Fairway in Larne, was aged 15 when arrested in October 2015 as part of a UK-wide investigation into a cyber attack on the phone and broadband provider's database.

He was interviewed and released on bail without charge at that stage.

However, several national newspapers published details about his identity and whereabouts.

Ultimately Sterritt pleaded guilty to unauthorised access to computer material. He was ordered to complete 50 hours community service and write a letter of apology to TalkTalk.

His legal challenge centred on legislative protection from media identification for youths before they have been charged with a crime.

Under the terms of the 1999 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act no-one under 18 suspected of an offence can be named in press reports.

Sterritt's lawyers claimed a failure by the Department of Justice to commence the law violated his human rights.

According to their case it was irrational to deny him the same protection given to minors once they are charged with an offence.

The legal loophole breached Sterritt's right to privacy, it was contended.

A further ground was based on alleged discrimination, with an unjustified difference in treatment between categories of children.

But the Court of Appeal ruled today that Sterritt has no sustainable case against the Department under the Human Rights Act.

Dismissing the challenge, Lord Justice McCloskey held that non-commencement of the Act did not amount to any breach.

He said: "No interference by the Department of Justice with the appellant's right to respect for private life has been established."

Belfast Telegraph

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