A man suing Google for allegedly allowing defamatory material to be published will be given more time to change his pleas
The High Court has given a man time to amend his claim for damages against Google for allegedly allowing defamatory language to be published on its websites.
The man’s case relates to third party material online alleging that he was involved in the disappearance of a child and drugged women and brought them home for sexual gratification.
The man says the allegations are false.
In his decision today, Judge Max Barrett said the material was so damaging that he decided to anonymize the man “rather than compound his suffering by lending further meaning to his name.”
He found that the man’s legal pleadings were “completely flawed” and doomed to fail as worded. However, he refused to grant Google’s request for the removal, opting instead to give the man, who was not legally represented, six weeks to amend his briefs.
The judge said he would drop the lawsuit at this point if the briefs remain the same or if a motion to amend them is unsuccessful.
Although the judge said he couldn’t oblige the man to bring in legal counsel, he believes the case won’t go much further without their involvement.
The man wants the third-party content to be removed and compensation for alleged damage to his reputation and a violation of his data protection rights.
Mr Justice Barrett said the man felt people had read about him online and were avoiding him as a result. The man also expressed concern for his personal safety as his address was made public and he said his business has suffered, the judge added.
Google denies being liable as a primary or secondary publisher for any allegedly defamatory third-party material. It referred to various judgments from the English courts and one from the Northern Ireland High Court, but, the judge said, there had not yet been a decision from the Irish courts as to whether or not Google was a primary or secondary publisher for Irish purposes.
Google also pointed out that even if it turns out to be the publisher, it can invoke a defense of innocent publication under a section of the 2009 Defamation Act or an EU directive. The man’s claim was brought outside the statute of limitations, he added.
The judge said the man had been working with Google since at least 2015 to invoke his right to have his name removed from search engine results. Previously, material related to the man’s name was removed from Google.
The man, whom the judge believed to be in his 60s or 70s, described himself as “only semi-educated”.
Google told the High Court that it needs links to certain websites in order to process requests to remove or remove material. The man said the company had his name, address and phone number so they should be able to address his complaint.
Google said it was invited on several occasions to use an online complaints tool, but the judge said the man indicated he would not or could not use the tool.
Mr Justice Barrett said it appears the man “doesn’t quite have a right to be forgotten” but only a right to be forgotten provided he can provide the links to the site’s pages. No legal authority was cited to the court for such a proposal, the judge added.
The man claimed that Google had created a dynamic and ever-changing environment in which people could continue to easily access links to allegedly defamatory material, and therefore it was Google’s job to clean up a mess of its own making, the judge said .
Mr Justice Barrett said the man’s pleas were enough of the “fairest course of action” to stay proceedings for six weeks to give the man time to change his pleas.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/man-suing-google-for-allegedly-allowing-defamatory-claims-material-to-be-published-is-given-more-time-to-amend-his-pleadings-42333803.html A man suing Google for allegedly allowing defamatory material to be published will be given more time to change his pleas