Portakabin has secured High Court orders directing Google to provide it with details about a Gmail account that sent allegedly damaging and defamatory messages to its customers.
Portakabin Ltd and Portakabin (Ireland) Ltd, which manufacture and supply modular buildings, sought the orders so they can identify the person or persons who in March and April of this year sent several messages aimed at causing “serious damage” to their business.
Google did not oppose the application.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Senan Allen said the court was satisfied to grant the orders in favour of the applicant companies.
They require Google to provide information including the address, telephone number and or any other email address, of the holder of email@example.com.
Portakabin must also be given details about the payment instrument, including credit card details, used by the account holder, and the IP address and associated time stamps of the account holder.
The applicants sought the order so they can bring legal proceedings against the author. If the author is an employee, disciplinary proceedings may be taken against that individual, the judge noted.
The author had written to the court but not identified themselves to the court, and described themselves as a whistleblower, he said.
The author said the account had been deleted, that no more communications would be sent, and asked the court not to make the orders sought by the Portakabin companies.
In his decision, the judge, after considering the protections afforded under the 2014 Protected Disclosures Act, said there is no right to write anonymous letters and no general legal right to anonymity.
The judge noted Portakabin believes the emails form part of “a wider chain of events” dating back to October 2020, when anonymous letters were sent to its customers. The applicants believe the author of the emails and the letters are the same person or persons.
Arising out of the contents of the letters, the judge noted Portakabin hired external consultants to review its procurement and business practices.
The consultants found there was no evidence to sustain the claims made against them, and that the allegations were untrue, he said.
In all the circumstances, he was satisfied to grant the orders sought.