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Iona Institute researcher seeks to sue woman for defamation over Twitter posts

Counsel for Dr Angelo Bottone told the High Court he’d obtained orders compelling Twitter to disclose information about the account.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

AN ACADEMIC AND PART-time researcher with the Roman Catholic advocacy group the Iona Institute wants to be allowed to sue the person he claims is the author of several highly defamatory tweets.

The action has been brought by Dr Angelo Bottone, who has also brought proceedings against Twitter over several untrue tweets posted in October 2017.

He says the tweets wrongly accuse him of aiding and assisting an American called James Charles Kopp, who was convicted in 2003 of murdering a medical doctor who performed abortions.

Dr Bottone said he does not know and has never had any contact with Kopp, whose existence the academic did not know of until October 2017 when the tweets were published.

Dr Bottone also wants to sue the individual who allegedly posted the tweets using an account called @Elodieburke, for defamation.

At the High Court yesterday, Declan Doyle SC for Dr Bottone said his client obtained certain orders from the High Court requiring Twitter to disclose information about who is behind the account and also hired a private detective.

The investigations have revealed that the person using the Twitter account where the defamatory tweets were posted is an Eimear Kilgarriff from Galway.

It is also claimed that Kilgarriff is the author of the tweets.

In what was an ex-parte application counsel said that his client is seeking a court order allowing him to extend the time legally allowed to bring defamation proceedings against Kilgarriff.

Under the 2009 Defamation Act, litigants have up to 12 months from the date of publication to bring defamation proceedings against the publisher.

However, under section 38 of that Act, the High Court can extend the 12-month time limit to a maximum of two years.

In Dr Bottone’s case, the two-year period expires in mid-October.

Describing his client as a reluctant litigant counsel said he was taking the action to protect his good name.

Counsel said that Kilgarriff had made efforts to conceal her identity from Dr Bottone and, he said had no right to post false statements about Dr Bottone by using an an-line avatar, counsel said.

Counsel said that there were issues personally serving the intended defendant.
Court documents on the time extension application were served on what is believed to be her family home in Galway.

However, counsel said that it appears that she no longer resides there, and her current address is unknown.

The application came before Mr Justice Max Barrett who granted Dr Bottone’s lawyers permission to place an advert about Dr Bottone’s application for a time extension, so he can sue Kilgarriff, in the local Galway media.

The matter will return before the court in the coming days.

Previously the High Court heard that Dr Bottone had in 2017 asked Twitter to remove the tweets.

The allegedly defamatory tweets were not taken down resulting in Dr Bottone, of Chanel Road, Dublin 5 suing the social media platform for defamation.

Twitter denies it is responsible for any tweets that are allegedly defamatory of Dr Bottone. The court heard the social media platform intends to rely on the defence of innocent publication.

Dr Bottone’s lawyers have argued that Twitter cannot rely on that defence because of its refusal to remove the tweets following repeated complaints by their client.

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Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh

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