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Sunday World journalist Patricia Devlin’s solicitors issue Facebook with notice to provide account details


Patricia Devlin

Patricia Devlin

Patricia Devlin

Solicitors acting on behalf of journalist Patricia Devlin have issued a legal notice against Facebook to provide the details of an account targeting the Sunday World crime reporter.

Lawyers for Ms Devlin said the firm has also written to the PSNI asking them to expedite the investigation into a social media message in which the journalist’s child was threatened.

Ms Devlin received a message earlier this month which said: “Your baby will suffer very soon from rape very nice.”

Writing on Twitter after receiving the latest message, Ms Devlin said: “Impunity emboldens these sickos.

"When did it become OK to threaten children with rape?”

Ms Devlin had received another such message in October 2019 in which a threat was made to rape her then-newborn son and was sent to the journalist’s personal Facebook account.

Last year, she lodged a complaint over what she said was a PSNI failure to investigate the threat.

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It was signed with the name of a neo-Nazi terror group, Combat 18, which in the past has had links to loyalist paramilitaries.

Ms Devlin told the Belfast Telegraph she has received a phone call from the Chief Constable Simon Byrne in which he offered his full support and assurances that the PSNI would fully investigate this latest threat received in May. He has also offered to meet Ms Devlin in the coming weeks.

Solicitor Kevin Winters of KRW Law said the author of the social media post needs to be investigated as a matter of priority.

It has led to a “Norwich Pharmacal Order” being issued against Facebook, a legal order with the ability to force third parties to disclose relevant data such as IP addresses. It would have the potential to reveal the real names of the users of any accounts ahead of a potential defamation action. Mr Winters has said he is concerned individuals often have to resort to legal action “off their own bat” to try and find out the identities of perpetrators.

The PSNI said they can’t comment on the “security of individuals”. Facebook was also contacted for comment.

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