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Thursday 17 October 2019

Sex offender wins Facebook case but new site springs up within hours

Alan Erwin and Donna Deeney

A CONVICTED sex offender won a High Court order for the removal of a Facebook page monitoring paedophiles in the North – but within hours a similar page was set up.

The man behind the original page said he was "shattered" by the court's decision that Facebook Ireland Ltd must shut the site down.

But a short while after a judge ordered that "Keeping our kids safe from predators" be removed, another page, "Keeping our kids safe from predators 2", appeared on the social network site.

It was unclear if the creator of the new page was the same person who set up the first.

A judge had earlier ruled that some content on the original page amounted to prima facie harassment of the man and risked infringing on his human rights.

Facebook was given 72 hours to take down the "Keeping our kids safe from predators" page.

Granting an interim injunction, Mr Justice McCloskey said: "Society has dealt with the plaintiff in accordance with the rule of law. He has been punished by incarceration and is subject to substantial daily restrictions on his lifestyle."

The man, who cannot be identified, was given a six-year jail sentence for a string of child sex offences committed more than two decades ago.

Known only as XY, he issued proceedings against Facebook after discovering his photo and threatening comments posted on the page.

He claimed harassment, misuse of private information and a breach of his right to privacy and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.

In a statement he described the published material as an attempt to vilify and stir up hatred against him.

Details were disclosed of some of the comments posted about him. One said: "So the man, or I mean mess of a human being, that's taken this page to court, he must want to be the head paedophile and rule over all sex offenders. He will be like a god to them."

Another read: "Put him down like an animal."

Although Facebook has already removed his photo and the comments, the man's legal team insisted the page should be shut down.

Lawyers for Facebook argued that it was neither necessary nor proportionate to remove a page used by more than 4,000 people.

However, balancing the competing rights to privacy and freedom of expression, Mr Justice McCloskey ruled in favour of the plaintiff.

The man who set up the original page said: "I was shattered when I heard what the judge had ruled.

"This is a victory for the paedophile."

The site was set up last August by the Limavady man, who does not want to be named, in response to a perception that the town was being used as a "dumping ground" for sex offenders being released from nearby Magilligan Prison.

Irish Independent

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