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Glasnevin Trust wins orders directing Twitter to disclose identity of anonymous account holder

While the posts ceased at the end of March the “highly offensive” statements still remain on the social media platform.

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Image: Sam Boal

THE TRUST THAT operates and maintains Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery has secured High Court orders directing Twitter to disclose to it the identity of an anonymous user who has made a number of allegedly defamatory statements.

The orders were granted by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan in favour of Dublin Cemeteries Committee trading as Glasnevin Trust.

However the judge declined to make an order directing Twitter to delete material posted on the social media platform concerning the Trust.

The trust sought orders against Twitter International Company including one directing Twitter to carry out a number of steps including disclosing the identity of the user of a Twitter profile called “Justice4Employees” at the account address @Glasnevinexpose.

They also sought orders directing Twitter to disclose emails accounts, IP addresses, and postal addresses associated with the account, and that posts relating to the Trust be removed.

The type of orders sought by the Trust are known as Norwich Pharmacal orders.

Tweets

Seeking the orders Eugene Gleeson SC for the Trust said between January and the end of March last posts that are disparaging, defamatory and damaging to the Trust and members of its staff appeared on the Twitter account.

While the posts ceased at the end of March the “highly offensive” statements still remain on the social media platform, counsel said.

His client was seeking various relief in a bid to have the damaging and defamatory statements removed from where they can be seen by the public.

Twitter, represented by Paul Coughlan BL, neither consented nor objected to the orders sought in relation to the identification of the account holder, but had suggested that they be amended.

Counsel said his client had concerns over the application for an order directing Twitter to delete all material posted on the account in so far as it relates to it.

It was not in a position to say if the remarks complained of on the account were defamatory or not. To be asked to remove such statements in the absence of any finding that the remarks are defamatory left Twitter in an “impossible situation.” counsel said.

Twitter counsel submitted should not be asked to take the statements down, and such an order should be sought against the person or persons who posted them.

Delayed

Counsel added the Trust had delayed in seeking the orders, given that it had first raised the issues complained of in March.

In his ruling Mr Justice Gilligan noted that the remarks made about the largest cemetery in Ireland, which contains many monuments of historical significance, were “very serious” and appeared “grossly defamatory.”

The Judge said he was prepared to grant orders in favour of the Trust concerning the identity of the account users, without any of the amendments advanced by Twitter.

The Judge said he was not prepared to make orders directing the Twitter to take down the material complained of.

The Judge said such an order should be sought after the identity of the user is known, and they have been notified of the proceedings.

The Trust if it so wished can return to court and seek orders removing the material when the identity of the user is known.

The Judge also gave Twitter 21 days to comply with the Norwich Pharmacal orders.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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