Gillingham FC bid to unmask BBC Online commenters

Gillingham Football Club has launched a legal battle with the BBC over a comment left on a blog post on the corporation’s sport website.

The League Two football club wants to sue an individual over allegations of racial hatred within the club, but does not know his identity.

The club has turned to the High Court in London seeking an order that would force the BBC to disclose the name, postal address, and email address of the individual who has made postings under a pseudonym.

According to a writ filed at the High Court, it has had its requests for the BBC to voluntarily hand over the information turned down by the corporation.

In the writ, the club says it has a valid claim for damages against whoever made the posting last December, but first needs to find out who to sue.

Gillingham Football Club’s bid to unmark BBC’s website commenters comes just three weeks after a woman failed in a similar 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 that would help identify those who had added comments to a report about a successful libel case in which she had brought.

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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