Legal bid to unmask Mail Online commenters fails

A woman has failed in a bid to obtain an order forcing Mail Online to disclose the identities of two people who made comments about her on the newspaper website.

Jane Clift applied to the High Court for an order instructing Martin Clarke, publisher of the Mail Online, to provide her with information which would help identify those who had added comments to a report about a successfull libel case in which she had brought.

The story that appeared on the Daily Mail & General Trust-owned website detailed how Clift had sued Slough Borough Council after it put her on its violent persons register.

Although most of the comments following the report were supportive, two were mildly critical and Clift sought to sue those that left these comments for defamation.

Clift found the article and the corresponding online comments a year after the reports were first published while looking for stories about the council's appeal over the case.

In correspondence, Clift had described the newspaper's coverage as excellent and the postings would have been read in that context.

Justice Sharp refused to grant the orders Clift sought as the potential disclosure of information to her engaged the users' rights to respect for their private and family lives under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court also had to take into account the privacy policy of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail Online, it was therefore disproportionate to grant the application and it was appropriate to refuse it, the judgment concluded.

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