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Portakabin seeks court order to find person behind Gmail account who allegedly defamed company

The case was heard in the High Court today.

Image: Shutterstock/GaudiLab

PORTAKABIN HAS ASKED the High Court for orders directing Google to provide it with details about a Gmail account that has been sending allegedly defamatory messages to its customers.

Portakabin Ltd and Portakabin (Ireland) Ltd, which manufacturer and supply modular buildings, are seeking the order so they can identify who has been sending the defamatory messages to customers who have long-standing business relations with them.

The companies claim that the emails contain untrue, defamatory and negative allegations about matters including the quality of Portakabin’s products and services.

Portakabin also claims that the currently unknown author of the messages, who started sending them last month, intends to damage its relationships with its customers.

It now wants to pursue all remedies possible, including legal proceedings, against the author of the emails.

As a result, Portakabin is seeking orders against Google Ireland Ltd that would direct the internet giant to disclose information and data it holds associated with the particular Gmail account, which has been allegedly using a pseudonym ‘John Smith’.

In what is known as a ‘Norwich Pharmacal’ order, Portakabin wants contact information – including the address, telephone number and or any other email address – of the owner of the account irishpeople2021@gmail.com.

Portakabin also wants to be given details about the payment instrument used by the account holder, including credit card details, and the IP address and associated time stamps of the account.

In order to get such details, a court order is required by the applicants.

In a sworn statement to the court, Portakabin director Paul Newell said that the emails are part of a wider chain of events dating back to October 2020, when anonymous letters were sent to is customers.

Those letters also made false claims about the company. Arising out of those letters Portakabin, he said hired external consultants review its procurement and business practices.

The consultants concluded in a report that there was no evidence to sustain the claims made in the letters.

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Newell said that there is a strong possibility that the author of the emails and the letters are the same person or people.

The person behind the material could be an employee of the company, he said, adding that if that was the case, disciplinary proceedings with be taken against that individual.

Permission to serve short notice of the proceedings was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice Senan Allen on Wednesday afternoon.

The judge adjourned the case to a date in June.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

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Aodhan O Faolain

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