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Online “troll” made to pay £100,000 in libel damages

Suttle v Walker [2019] EWHC 396 (QB)

Related Member(s):
Catrin Evans QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Media and Information Law
Court:

An online “troll” who started a Facebook “hate campaign” which falsely accused an animal lover of kicking her dog has been forced to pay £100,000 in libel and harassment damages and costs.

The Claimant was wrongly accused, of beating her dog and posted a video on Facebook and YouTube which received more than 130,000 views. This lead to a ‘torrent’ of abuse online which lead to threats of violence forcing the claimant to leave her job.

After weighing the evidence, Mr Justice Nicklin, awarded the Claimant £40,000 in general damages and £10,405 special damages and ordered the defendant to also pay the legal costs. He also granted a permanent injunction to prevent a repetition of the harassment and libels.

The judge found this to be ‘a very serious and nasty case of online harassment’ and considered that this case could be served as ‘a valuable example to those who think that they can wage campaigns of harassment against a person online with impunity from behind the anonymity of a webpage or social media account’.

Catrin Evans QC was involved in this case.