Thursday 20 October 2016

TalkTalk hack: Co Antrim schoolboy suing Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and The Sun for alleged breach of privacy

The court heard that the boy's family has had to move home following the publicity surrounding his arrest.

Alan Erwin

Published 06/11/2015 | 15:56

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Stock picture

A Co Antrim schoolboy arrested over the cyber attack on TalkTalk is suing three national newspapers for alleged breach of privacy, it emerged today.

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Lawyers for the 15-year-old have also commenced proceedings against internet giants Google and Twitter.


The lawsuit centres on publicity surrounding his questioning last month by British police investigating a major hack into the phone and broadband provider's database.

Details of the case can be disclosed after reporting restrictions were partially lifted by a judge at the High Court in Belfast.

Mr Justice O'Hara has also granted injunctions against Google and Twitter in a bid to remove any online references to the teenager's name, address, images or information about his physical appearance.

The three newspapers defending the action, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Sun, all gave undertakings aimed to protecting his identity pending the outcome of the case.

The boy was among four people to be detained in connection with the TalkTalk hacking probe.

He was interviewed on suspicion of offences under the Computer Misuse Act before being released on bail.

Since then his lawyers have issued writs claiming negligence, misuse of private information, defamation, breach of confidence and data protection.

As part of their action they took legal steps to secure the removal of material published about their client and where he lived.

The court heard that the boy's family has had to move home following the publicity surrounding his arrest.

It was claimed that he could be identified from newspaper articles and partially blacked out photographs which appeared at the time.

Barrister Ronan Lavery QC argued that the content contributed to his client being "stigmatised" within his community.

He said the teenager's name also featured in tweets and online searches.

During one of a number of hearings in the case, a lawyer for the Daily Mail rejected claims that it had revealed his identity.

Olivia O'Kane said the newspaper altered the boy's appearance and changed his hair colour in the photo used.

Stressing that his name or address were never published, she contended: "It's our client's view that they did not identify the plaintiff."

A temporary ban on reporting on the application for an injunction was imposed amid fears that it could trigger further internet searches.

But following steps by Google and Twitter to remove the information press restrictions were relaxed.

An order prohibiting the publication of any material that could lead to the boy being identified remains in place.

The case is due to be heard again next month.

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