Man awarded £10k after anonymous online troll falsely called him a paedo
A man has been awarded £10,000 libel damages over an anonymous internet troll's allegation that he was a paedophile and child rapist.
Samuel Smith, a former borough councillor in Welwyn, Hatfield, brought proceedings at London's High Court over articles on EncyclopediaDramatica.se (ED) - a popular satirical website which uses the Wiki software.
On Friday, Mr Justice Green said the site was "to put it mildly" controversial and took steps to anonymise itself.
Mr Smith, who described it as a "more vulgar online Private Eye magazine", said that the website exposed genuine wrongdoing and much of what it published was accurate.
For some time, it had published unobjectionable articles about Mr Smith, who operates a blog which deals with child protection matters, calling him a "zealot".
But, in May this year, users known as KiwiDynastia and LikeIcare amended various articles to say he was a paedophile and child rapist, with graphic mock-ups of him engaging in sexual activity.
Mr Smith denied having any criminal convictions, cautions or warnings which were remotely relevant to the words used.
The judge said that when Mr Smith found out about the "vile and offensive" allegations, he complained politely but was told by administrator LikeIcare "F*** off LOL".
Another administrator said that if Mr Smith continued his course of action he would be banned and they would see to it that their article came higher up in the Google page rankings.
The defamation action against LikeIcare and the operators of ED was "stayed" when they removed the offending material but it continued against KiwiDynastia - a name used by an anonymous internet troll whose precise identity is unknown.
The judge said there was no doubt that Mr Smith's reputation was harmed by the manifestly untrue and malicious material.
He was entitled to an injunction and £10,000 damages from KiwiDynastia, who was given 14 days to apply to the court if he or she thought that was excessive or otherwise unjustified.
If there was an application, added the judge, it could not be anonymous and the true name and address of KiwiDynastia must be provided.