The cases of R V Paul Britton and Phipps v Paul Britton and Origin Design

The first double prosecution – criminal and civil for harassment in the UK

Case summary

The case of Paul Britton was the first case in the UK, where an online troll was made to take responsibility for his harassing an defamatory activities twice. First in the criminal court and once convicted, in a separate civil case in the High Court.

In this case, the owner of a web developing company, Mr Britton, had a dispute over one of his clients, Mr Phipps, over £200 for work that Mr Phipps claimed was done unsatisfactorily. Mr Britton decided to sue Mr Phipps in the small claim court, but in the meantime, he created dozens of fake websites against Mr Phipps, falsely alleging that Mr Phipps was a paedophile. Mr Phipps knew that the fake websites were created by Mr Britton, but neither he, nor the police were able to prove this.

Case outcome

The police refusal to investigate his case, left Mr Phipps desperate. His name was being tarnished online, he lost his business and his mental health rapidly deteriorated. He was felt threatened by vigilante reappraisals so he became secluded.

Yair Cohen took on Mr Phipps case and through a series of disclosure order applications, in the UK and the U.S. he obtained evidence that Mr Britton was behind the harassing websites against Mr Phipps. The evidence included an audio recording where Mr Britton called a domain registrar for customer service support.

Mr Cohen handed the evidence to the police and Mr Britton was eventually convicted of harassment and for which he received a prison sentence.

Following his conviction, Yair Cohen started civil proceedings against Mr Britton for harassment and defamation with Mr Britton lost. Mr Britton had to pay substantial damages to Mr Phipps, his legal costs and also provided him with an apology.

Learn more about the case of R V Paul Britton and Phipps v Paul Britton and Origin Design

London’s Evening Standard 21 November 2014

Web developer created website about ex-client falsely claiming he was a paedophile
Provided by Evening Standard

Evening Standard 3 February 2015

Web developer avoids jail after creating website about ex-client which falsely claimed he was a paedophile
Provided by Evening Standard

The Internet Law Centre

Contact lawyer Yair Cohen

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