An online harassment case victory

Rob Kidd at Stuff reports:

A lawyer has won a case against a blogger who launched an online campaign to ruin her reputation, setting a major precedent extending the scope of anti-stalking laws.

Judge David Harvey issued blogger Sperling with an indefinite restraining order to protect lawyer , a rare case in which the Harassment Act has been used to cover blogging. The decision now opens the door to victims of harassment on other online sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Sperling – who created colourful headlines when she outed herself as an ex-methamphetamine addict, ex-prostitute and ex-girlfriend of Michael Laws – was ordered to take down nearly 100 posts and comments from her blog which made derogatory references to Flannagan. …

A year ago, Flannagan and Brown unsuccessfully applied for a restraining order against Sperling, saying she had made numerous hurtful and distressing internet posts about them.

ordered some posts be taken offline but ruled a restraining order was not required.

Flannagan took legal action a second time after Sperling renewed her online attacks. This time the lawyer won the indefinite restraining order.

Flannagan hailed her win this month as a “precedent-setting case”.

She said it was not the first cyber-bullying case tested by the Harassment Act but it was the first with a detailed judgment.

I’ve got a copy of the judgment, which is here – Flannagan Madeleine v Sperling Jacqueline jud 13052013. It’s an interesting case, as arguably action could have been taken for either defamation or harassment. The problem with defamation proceedings is they take a long time and can turn very expensive. In this case, Madeleine has achieved what she wants – which is (hopefully) and end to the harassment.

It’s good to see that the current law can be used effectively in online cases.

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