14 Mar PROFESSOR WINS £20,000 LIBEL CLAIM AGAINST TWITTER USER WHO SUGGESTED HE WAS PAEDOPHILE
Professor Grayling has won £20,000 libel damages against a Twitter user who accused him of being a paedophile in a case he said was partly driven by “a wish to put a marker down that social media should not be used in this incredibly irresponsible way”.
The Oxford University fellow and professor was “distressed and enraged” after Peter North suggested he possessed videos showing child abuse in a tweet posted online in May last year.
The defamatory tweet read: “I’d bet good money that AC Grayling has a hard drive full of under age botty sex videos.”
Professor Grayling was alerted to the post by other Twitter users and said he felt so insulted that he was unable to ignore it, the High Court heard.
North, who failed to file a defence, left the comment online for six days on his Twitter page, which had nearly 8,000 followers, and was warned over his remarks.
The baseless allegation was exacerbated by the fact that Professor Grayling regularly visits schools to talk to pupils about the study of humanities, the court heard.
His barrister told the court: “Allegations of paedophilia, including of possessing and storing child pornography, are undoubtedly some of the most serious allegations that can be levelled at anyone in the modern age.”
“The allegation is all the more damaging in respect of those who work with young people, and who regularly visit schools to talk to schoolchildren about their futures – as does Professor Grayling.”
North was described in court as a “prolific” pro-Brexit writer and founding member of The Leave Alliance. Professor Grayling is a well-known critic of Brexit.