Judge bans a Facebook page exposing paedophiles and awards £20,000 damages to convicted sex offender – David Hencke

court

What do Vox Political readers think of the ruling by Mr Justice Stephens the judge in the case described by David Hencke as follows:

An extraordinary ruling by a Northern Ireland judge will lead to a chilling effect on people using the internet to expose convicted paedophiles and give hope to sex offenders that they can make money from people and organisations attacking them for their crimes.

The  Belfast case has been picked up by the excellent Inforrm blog which gives a detailed legal analysis of what happened from Lorna Skinner ,a barrister at Matrix Chambers.

The facts appear to be these. Joseph McCloskey set up a Facebook profile page called “Keep Our Kids Safe from Predators 2” which posted information about a convicted sex offender called CG. A similar page was set up by RS the father of one  of CG’s victims.

CG’s lawyers complained about the postings on both sites… and went to court claiming the sex offender had been harassed on Facebook and his human rights breached by the publication on Facebook.

What is extraordinary is the ruling from Mr Justice Stephens, the judge. Even though the site had been taken down the judge approved an injunction against to protect the privacy of other sex offenders and paedophiles who had been named by contributors to the page.

Read the rest on David Hencke’s blog.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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16 thoughts on “Judge bans a Facebook page exposing paedophiles and awards £20,000 damages to convicted sex offender – David Hencke

  1. Guy Ropes

    Mike, I think this situation could reasonably called “corruption” (as we were discussing last evening). It’s almost as if the Judge had determined that he was going to be the first of his ilk to live up to my comment. Let’s see how the elected representatives react and – perhaps more interestingly because they put their head above the parapet – how the Labour Party react. To say that this doesn’t come under the heading of ‘corrupt politics’ would be being naïve imho. My first instinct is outrage but on reflection it may be no bad decision in influencing the wider scheme of things because if a majority of the electorate don’t react with some vigour in an effort to change this judgement, then an election in May would seem to be a pointless exercise; they would have shown that they don’t give a four star **** about anything worthwhile.

    1. hstorm

      But this was *not* a political decision, it was a legal ruling.

      Are you in favour of law-by-populism, Guy? Do you understand what sort of society that would create?

      Where a Judge ignores the word of the law, ignores the evidence, and ignores all precedent, and simply makes a ruling based on what (he assumes) the majority is clamouring out for? Even though the majority probably have a far sketchier knowledge of the details of the case? A society where anyone can settle a grudge with another by spreading damaging rumours about their opponent, and creating enough of a clamour that public outcry alone will get them convicted?

      You really need to think very long and hard about what you are calling out for here, it is very dangerous territory.

    2. John Gaines

      NI was a cesspool, not helped by Thatchers insistence that all Security should come under a well known Secret Service Paedo, it turned out to being a pleasure Dome for him and his filth..even later ..Mandy didn’t help, with his amour crawling all around Stormont.

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        “A well-known civil service paedo”? I’m interested to see factual information about that. Has there been a prosecution?

  2. hstorm

    My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, it feels wrong that CG got compensation, but on the other hand, that Facebook page does sound just a bit like it has been practising and encouraging vigilantism. Given that ‘child abuse’ is a term that covers a wide variety of behaviours, from the horrors of the rape of children all the way down to simply having sex with someone who lied about their age by a couple of weeks (I have a former school-friend this happened to some time after he left College, and although the girl he slept with was 15 years and 50 weeks old, he still wound up on the Sex Offenders Register), we have to realise that some of the people who get stigmatised for it have not committed nearly as bad a crime as some of the others.

    Also worth remembering that, strictly speaking, and despite the constant furore that the word tends to provoke, ‘paedophilia’ is not exactly the same thing as child abuse. Paedophilia merely means sexual attraction to children, and does not necessarily entail acting up on it, which means it is technically possible for someone to be a paedophile without actually doing anything wrong. While this doesn’t appear to apply to CG, the Facebook page in question doesn’t seem to have been set up only to target him.

    Further, when considering the part of the judgement that reads, as follows; –

    ‘[8] As soon as that injunction was granted the second defendant’s profile/page entitled “Keeping our Kids Safe from Predators” was taken down by the first defendant but within hours the second defendant had started a new profile/page on Facebook entitled “Keeping our Kids Safe from Predators 2.” As will become apparent I find that the new profile/page was operated on exactly the same basis by exactly the same person with exactly the same aims.’ – http://www.bailii.org/nie/cases/NIHC/QB/2015/11.html

    In that light, I think the new injunction is sustainable. The site might have been taken down the second time, but the person running it showed they had a history of simply re-creating it in response to being made to close down. Without a wider injunction, what’s to stop them doing it again? I repeat, the FB page was encouraging vigilantism. Checking point [15]; –

    ‘The overwhelming evidence in Callaghan was that the key ingredients to stability for an offender who is being rehabilitated back into the community are a home, employment and a circle of family and friends. If these ingredients are maintained the risk of re-offending and the harm to the community is reduced. *If these ingredients are disrupted then the risk of re-offending and of harm to the community is increased*.’

    And that is why the tendency toward ‘anti-paedo-vigilantism’ does far more harm than good.

    1. Steve Kind

      Thanks for this post hstorm – I agree wholeheartedly. Child abuse (of any sort) is a vile and disgusting crime – but people guilty of such crimes should be treated by the law and the courts in exactly the same way as any other law breaker. Anything else opens the door to vigilantism and witch hunts.

      1. mey151

        child abuse applies to any age under 18 so any one 17 and 11 months and 29 days is technically a child for these purposes. yet for many other purposes the law states an adult can be aged 14. seems what ever suits with governments

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        Sex is legal from 16 onwards but there are plenty of other things that aren’t. What’s the age of consent for homosexuality these days?
        So I think you have a point.
        People aged 14-17 are young persons; from 18 on they’re adults. There are differences in the way they’re seen by the law.

  3. amnesiaclinic

    The problem of the threat of violence against them seems to have been treated disproportionally. That gives them a reason to ‘protect’ them.
    So will their human rights go when ours do ????
    Not holding my breath.

  4. Thomas

    On one side, I can see the judge’s point of view because in Northern Ireland especially there is a lot of vigilantism. A lot of people have been murdered, maimed or thrown out by
    paramilitaries.

    On the other hand, it seems sex offenders have more rights then average people. Commit crime and get jailed, and at minimum you get a roof over your head and enough food, but be disabled and you can be evicted and starved.

  5. radicalpeter

    This whole situation nation wide has a head of steam that will not be contained by corrupt politicians or law enforcers and when it explodes the British establishment will suffer the consequences of their vile evil ways. The royal connection and the upper class of society must either full on their swords or undergo a long prison sentence and we must usher in a new Republic of England(to start with) and the Halls of Parliament and its occupants must be abolished. We need a new start in this vile land and the present establishment is by the evidence emerging is unfit and morally corrupt to make and administer any affairs of state

  6. Mark McIntyre

    The rights of the individual are lost when they decide to abuse children.

    This legal finding is absolutely disgusting and highlights that the abuse of children is still seen as relatively acceptable…

    This legal finding will, if anything, create very real, proactive vigilantism.

    I for one hold no candle for sick perverse abusers and their supporters, whoever they are and wherever they may be.

  7. Guy Ropes

    “Spreading rumours” is different from reiterating facts. If one can’t comment on a Court verdict, then free speech is lost. Newspapers can comment as many times as they like about criminal convictions. Can you imagine one being done for harassment for so doing?Your taxes and mine are compensating this heathen whilst defendants who have been wrongly convicted cannot be awarded damages for that wrong. This state of affairs is indefensible.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It is possible for newspapers to be prosecuted, if their comment on court verdicts crosses certain legal lines.

    2. hstorm

      ‘ “Spreading rumours” is different from reiterating facts.’

      You are missing my point completely, Guy. When I talk about rumour-spreading, I’m not talking about this particular case, I am talking about what you are arguing for and what it will lead to; –

      You are arguing that this ruling must be overturned purely on the basis of popular outrage. But how much do people at large understand about the case? Or indeed about *any* particular case? If you want popular outrage to win here, then it will have to in all legal cases, and that can become a dreadful weapon for anyone in the midst of a rivalry or feud; they can smear someone repeatedly, turn general opinion against them, and then the smeared person will *have* to be convicted, simply because there is a public outcry for him to be so. Whether he is guilty or not will become irrelevant.

      ‘If one can’t comment on a Court verdict, then free speech is lost.’

      You’re making strawman arguments, Guy. No one is saying you can’t *comment* on it, I’m saying that your comment probably isn’t informed enough (nor indeed would mine be, as I have not been following this case) for it to be allowed to overturn the decision. The average amount of informed opinion in public outrage is usually no higher, so it should not be allowed to overturn a decision either.

      ‘Newspapers can comment as many times as they like about criminal convictions.’
      Yes, but if they falsely report proceedings, the newspaper will be charged with contempt-of-court.

      ‘Can you imagine one being done for harassment for so doing?’
      As I say, no one is saying that *comment* is an issue. The problem is that the offender was receiving threats and frequent abuse because of the website that was publicly naming him. Comment is not the crime that this decision is addressing, it is *vigilantism* that the Judge wants to put a stop to. And he is RIGHT about that. Vigilantism against sex offenders has a history of making them more likely to re-offend.

      ‘Your taxes and mine are compensating this heathen whilst defendants who have been wrongly convicted cannot be awarded damages for that wrong. This state of affairs is indefensible.’
      Well yes, I would agree the actual compensation package seems wrong. But the rest of what you are saying is neither here nor there.

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