Activist George Galloway granted leave to sue Google
Former Respect MP to serve libel and harassment proceedings on company at US HQ
George Galloway: Action consequential of remarks at a loyalist protest. The material allegedly broadcast on YouTube, which is owned by Google, was said to have been viewed more than 17,000 times. Photograph: PA
Political activist George Galloway has won permission in Belfast to sue internet giant Google over a loyalist protest where he was described as a “tramp” who supported terrorist beheadings.
A High Court judge dismissed an attempt to stop the former Respect MP serving libel and harassment proceedings on the company at its US headquarters.
Victims campaigner Willie Frazer is also being sued for the allegations made at a picket outside the Ulster Hall in Belfast as Mr Galloway appeared at a public speaking event in August 2014.
Mr Galloway claims Mr Frazer used the opportunity to slander his name with a series of “vitriolic, abusive, sectarian and wholly untrue speeches”.
The material allegedly broadcast by Mr Frazer on YouTube, which is owned by Google, was said to have been viewed more than 17,000 times.
An application was made by the internet firm to set aside an order granting leave for Mr Galloway to serve proceedings at its registered offices in Delaware. But dismissing the legal move on Wednesday, Mr Justice Horner granted leave to continue with the action.
“Accusing an elected politician of being a supporter of terrorism and of the people who are ‘beheading American citizens’ is going to alarm anyone so accused and to cause him distress,” he said.
The judge held there is a good arguable case on claims of harassment, involving an alleged 23-day period when nothing was done to remove the YouTube footage.
Welcoming the ruling, Mr Galloway’s solicitor, Kevin Winters of KRW Law said: “It represents a first time judicial intervention in what is a complex and evolving area of law to force YouTube to remove scandalous material.
“This was a bitterly contested application but the ruling now allows him to proceed to the next stage in his action.”
In a statement, Mr Galloway said: “Defeat in this case would have been financially ruinous to me which is of course what the corporations count on in such cases.
“They have limitless resources not least because they pay almost no taxes.”