Former Labour 'spin doctor' sues Wales on Sunday for £50k over porn hacking story

Wales on Sunday is being sued for £50,000 by a former Labour public policy consultant over allegations he was involved in the uploading of hardcore pornography to a Conservative website.

David Taylor is suing the paper for defamation after it published an article which, he alleges, suggested that he had been involved in hacking into Delyn Conservative Association's site and filling it with a "gallery of graphic sexual acts".

The claimant is also suing over a claim that he appeared to have had a “public chuckle” at the expense of Liverpool football supporters who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

The story was written when Taylor moved on from Welsh politics to the United States to study cyber security at the Massachusetts Institue of Technology last summer.

Trinity Mirror’s Media Wales, which owns the Wales on Sunday, has since apologised for the article.

The group also agreed to pay damages in December last year. But Taylor has taken the claim to the High Court because Trinity Mirror has refused to pay him unless he waives a claim for the publisher to pay his ATE (after the event) insurance premium costs.

The article was published on 10 June last year in the paper and then featured on the Wales Online website until 17 August.

Headlined, ‘All in a spin as Wales’ loss is America’s gain…’, the article said Taylor had provided it with “reams of copy over the years”. In particular, it pointed to two incidents.

The first was in January 2005 when the Delyn Conservative Association’s site was “hijacked and filled with hardcore pornography”.

The paper claimed that a Labour press officer pointed in the direction of Taylor, “a North Wales teenage web wizard making a name for himself in the party”. Wales on Sunday did write that Taylor had denied the allegation.

The claimant said there was no indication that he was responsible and said that no article had identified him as being to blame at the time the incident took place.

The second incident highlighted by Wales on Sunday was when Taylor tweeted “You’ll never walk again” while watching a Liverpool match in 2009.

It was interpreted as a jibe at Hillsborough victims, but the paper reported that Taylor described it as “banter”. A story on the tweet was written in 2009, but Taylor did not complain at the time because it made clear that he was not aware the phrase had connections with Hillsborough. This line from Taylor was not included in the more recent article that is the subject of legal action.

The claim form said: “The fact that the words complained of were published with such reckless disregard for the true facts which were known to the [Wales on Sunday] has greatly increased the distress suffered by [Taylor].”

Taylor has said it was “particularly irresponsible” for the paper not to put the claims to him, or warn him of the allegations, before publication.

According to Taylor, Media Wales was first made aware of his claim against the article on 6 August 2012 and accepted it had “given a mistaken impression”. He said an apology was published on 19 September but that it asserted, “offensively, that it did not ‘consider that this is a case where damages are appropriate’”.

However, a damages settlement was then agreed in December.

That has not yet been paid because Taylor has refused a request to waive a claim for the company to pay his ATE insurance premium.

Trinity Mirror declined to comment.

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