Northern Ireland

Paul Frew Facebook case: Schoolgirl loses privacy case

Paul Frew Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption Mr Frew said he had never meant for the girl to be subject to harassment

A 15-year-old girl who took a claim for damages against the chair of Stormont's Justice Committee over Facebook postings has lost her case.

A judge dismissed the claims of the girl, referred to as "GK", that Paul Frew linked her name to anti-social behaviour via a social media post.

In an earlier court hearing, Mr Frew said he had never meant to harass the girl.

After the judgement, the North Antrim MLA said he felt "vindicated".

The court also previously heard that Mr Frew mentioned the girl in relation to an increase in anti-social behaviour in the Harryville area of Ballymena and the nearby village of Broughshane.

The judge said some of the comments made by others on Facebook "while undoubtedly unpleasant and unattractive in nature" did not target the schoolgirl.

'Good faith'

The comments did not deter the schoolgirl from making her presence known to others by first tagging a friend and then engaging in exchanges, he added.

He said Mr Frew had acted in good faith in making considerable attempts to address the issue of anti-social behaviour in his constituency.

In his summary, the judge said the schoolgirl had been in public settings with others carrying out such acts and she could not claim to enjoy an expectation of privacy in relation to postings about it.

The judge said it was important to highlight that Mr Frew did not make an allegation against the girl but had had repeated an allegation that someone else had made and given the schoolgirl the opportunity to respond to it.

In summing up, the judge said the schoolgirl had "failed to establish liability" against Mr Frew and dismissed her claim.

Speaking after the judgement, Mr Frew said: "The court case, since it begun in March, has been an unsettling time, as I was made feel like a criminal for simply standing up for the community I serve.

"This case arose from my work of standing up for the community."

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