Website pays out £100,000 for defamation

Website pays out £100,000 for defamation

Court hears of daily barrage of anonymous allegations

The chief executive of housing group Gentoo has been awarded £100,000 after a long campaign of online smears.

Dads Place Publications subjected Peter Walls to numerous anonymous defamatory statements, suggesting that he was involved in a variety of nefarious activities on a professional and personal basis.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Walls, said: "Dads Place used their publications, and in particular the website, to conduct a malicious, unpleasant and relentless campaign of libel and harassment.

"Walls was forced to withstand an almost daily barrage of anonymous allegations, threats and abuse, and suffered very serious damage to his professional and personal reputation."

The site was run by John Finn of Pallion Housing, via a staff member, and Finn has admitted to the campaign. He has agreed to pay £100,000 to Walls, £5,000 to Gentoo and £14,000 to other staff members of the company.

"No amount of money can compensate my family for the distress these outrageous and false statements have caused us," said Walls outside the High Court.

"What was particularly frightening was the fact that we did not know who was doing this or why.

"There is no doubt that the internet can be a fantastic tool for good, but we urgently need legal change to enable victims of internet abuse to have a quicker and more effective route to justice."