B.C. court awards $179,644 for on-line defamation
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered a Nanaimo man to pay $179,644.50 in damages, after finding he had published extensive defamatory comments on the Internet about a Sydney, Australia-based man from May 2003 to this April.
According to Justice D. Halfyard’s July 15 judgment, plaintiff Robert Griffin alleged that defendant Patrick Michael Sullivan “improperly obtained the plaintiff’s name, personal information and photographs, and published them on the internet, without the plaintiff’s knowledge or consent”.
Griffin successfully won general damages, aggravated damages, and damages for breach of privacy, and also obtained an injunction from Halfyard to keep Sullivan from publishing further defamatory statements about him.
According to the court documents, Sullivan defamed Griffin by labelling him on newsgroups and Web sites as a “stalker, abuser, harasser, criminal, evil, liar, killer, sexual predator, pervert, pedophile, coward, manipulator and hate monger who threatens others with death and violence, betrays confidences and is untrustworthy, is dangerous, abuses, impregnates and abandons women and publishes their personal information”.
According to Halfyard: “But the defendant admits publishing many of the alleged libels, and advances the main defence that these statements about the plaintiff were true.”
Halfyard writes that “truth is a complete defence to a defamation action”. Sullivan was found to have failed to meet this basic test.
Sullivan’s “numerous and montrous” defamatory statements followed a “vicious dispute” on the Usenet newsgroup alt.suicide.holiday.