A man has been awarded compensation for defamatory comments posted about him on Facebook, which impacted his position of employment.
In December 2015, John Gilsenan from Castleblayney in County Monaghan posted defamatory comments about Desmond Crofton – the National Director of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) – on his Facebook page, suggesting that the actions of the National Director had caused the NARGC to “go broke”.
The defamatory comments on Gilsenan’s Facebook page were seen by other NARGC members, who raised questions and concerns about the leadership of the National Director, the organisation´s finances and its legal costs. The aftermath of the Facebook post resulted in an unnecessary confrontation, with the outcome that Crofton was suspended from his position of National Director on full pay.
After seeking legal counsel, Crofton – from Stonestown in County Offaly – made a claim for compensation for defamation on Facebook against John Gilsenan. According to Crofton´s solicitor, Gilsenan had engaged in communication with his client soon after the claim was made, but had since “abandoned the matter”.
With the claim for compensation for defamation on Facebook remaining uncontested, the case went to the Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court, where it was heard by Judge John O´Hagan for the assessment of damages only. After hearing of the personal injury Crofton had suffered because of the defamatory comments, Judge O´Hagan awarded him €75,000 compensation for defamation on Facebook.
In his summing up, Judge O´Hara said he was awarding Crofton the maximum award of compensation for defamation on Facebook to “teach people posting messages on the social media site to be very careful”.