High Court backs victim's 'troll' fight

 

A mother who was tormented with abusive messages by so-called
online trolls has won backing from the High Court to have the identities
of those who targeted her disclosed.

Nicola Brookes, 45, faced "vicious and depraved" abuse on Facebook after she posted a comment supporting former X Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza when he left the show last year.

Her anonymous tormentors set up a fake Facebook profile in her name using her picture to post explicit comments and lure young girls, her solicitor Rupinder Bains said.

Frustrated at what she considered a lack of action by her local police force, Sussex Police, to help track the perpetrators, Ms Brookes took legal action.

She took her case to the High Court in London where an order was granted last week compelling Facebook to reveal the IP addresses and other information of the people who had abused her.

Once they have been identified, Ms Brookes, a single mother who suffers from Crohn's disease, intends to bring a private prosecution against the abusers.

Ms Brookes, from Brighton, East Sussex, said today: "I'm going for the strongest possible prosecution against these people.

"I want them exposed. They exposed me and they invaded my life.

"I didn't ask for it. They wanted a reaction from me and now they have got it."

She added that it was the "speed and viciousness" of the postings that first alarmed her, along with the lack of action by police, as she praised her legal team.

She said: "After posting the comment about Frankie Cocozza, I went back to Facebook about an hour later and there was loads of abuse. At the time, I thought of it as banter.

"But after a few days people starting saying to me 'You're popping up all over the internet'.

"People were inciting hatred against me. They weren't just targeting me, they were also dragging young girls into it as well.

"They weren't playing."

Although Ms Brookes's case is believed to be the first of its kind, there have been other recent examples where the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have brought trolls before the courts.

They include student Liam Stacey, 21, from Pontypridd, south Wales, who was jailed for 56 days for mocking Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba on Twitter after he collapsed with a heart attack.

Ms Bains, a partner at Bains Cohen, the legal firm which is bringing the action, said today: "The police do have the ability and the resources to find out who is responsible for this type of abuse.

"The order that was granted from the High Court was called a Norwich Pharmacal Order which is a disclosure order compelling Facebook to give us whatever information they have.

"We don't know how useful that information is going to be until we have it.

"It may turn out to be fake. If that's the case, it will be the internet service providers (ISPs) who will be most useful to us because they will hold the bill-payers' addresses and we will have to get a further order."

She added that Facebook have been helpful but that Sussex Police have not been. Ms Bains said: "As far as we are concerned, nothing has been done by the police."

Sussex Police said they asked Facebook to remove any abusive posts about Ms Brookes and said their investigation was still continuing and had been reviewed.

A police spokesman said: "We understand how difficult this has been for Ms Brookes and the distress this has caused her.

"We have looked at the material sent to us by Ms Brookes and we have told Facebook to remove anything offensive or abusive towards her.

"We have also given her crime prevention advice. The matter is still subject of an active police investigation and has recently been reviewed.

"We are also seeking information from Facebook and the fact that the High Court has given authority to apply for the information required from Facebook is welcomed and may help our investigation.

"Ms Brookes and her solicitor will be kept in touch with any significant developments.

"As Facebook is an international website, millions of people from all over the world use it. We need to gather evidence to prove who the person is for a successful prosecution to take place.

"Officers examine any such allegations of bullying, harassment or malicious communication and every case is taken seriously."

Facebook said it shares information such as IP addresses and basic subscriber information, including names, email addresses and registration dates, when there is a legal justification and obligation.

Along with other large internet companies, it receives similar requests frequently but the company said all demands for information must be backed up by a court order.

A Facebook spokesman said: "There is no place for harassment on Facebook, but unfortunately a small minority of malicious individuals exist online, just as they do offline.

"We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice."

PA

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?