Tuesday 24 October 2017

Facebook won't name 'sinister' site user, court told

Greg Harkin

THE criminal courts have no powers to force Facebook to identify those behind pages on its site, a court has heard.

The issue was raised by a barrister who says the social networking site has refused to release details of a person who taunted a client charged with illegal dumping.

Jim Ferry, the owner of Ferry's Refuse, faces 12 charges of breaching waste management legislation between May 2010 and June 2011.

He is also facing a number of other charges relating to alleged illegal dumping in Raphoe.

Oisin Clarke, defending, told Letterkenny District Court yesterday his client believed there was a "sinister" motive behind a Facebook page.

Mr Clarke said failure to identify the person responsible for the page could deny his client the right to a fair trial.

Neverland

"It appears the court does not have jurisdiction (to order Facebook to release the information). We have tried two separate avenues and both have been closed down," said Mr Clarke.

Patrick McMullin, a solicitor representing Donegal County Council which is bringing the case against Mr Ferry, argued the Facebook claim had no relevance to the case.

Mr McMullin told the judge: "It's going away into the Neverland.

"It seems to be another matter being used to delay matters here. It is not a tenable proposition."

Judge Kelly said he would consider the arguments but warned: "I haven't heard anything that would suggest that proceeding with the trial would be unfair.

"I'm still struggling to work out how it's going to affect the trial of this case.

"It sounds a bit tenuous from where I'm sitting but I will certainly consider it."

The case was adjourned until May when a two-day trial will go ahead.

Irish Independent

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