European court agrees with bloggers demand on rape comment

ECHR said Iceland had breached Article 8 of Convention on Human Rights

A European court has upheld a blogger's demand that the Icelandic courts should have properly considered his case for defamation over an Instagram posting of the words "F**k you rapist bastard".

In its ruling on Egill Einarsson v Iceland, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday held that in failing to take account of the dropping of rape charges against Mr Einarsson a week beforehand, the domestic courts had breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights .

Article 8 refers to respect for private and family life.

The Supreme Court, it found, had erred in finding that the remarks in question were not a statement of fact, but a value judgment.


The Icelandic court had considered that the words had to be seen in the context of a public debate instigated earlier by Mr Einarsson. Mr Einarsson had brought defamation proceedings before the Reykjavik District Court in December 2012 and unsuccessfully appealed its rejection of his case to the Supreme Court .

Relying on Article 8, Mr Einarsson complained to the ECHR that the Supreme Court judgment meant that he could be called a rapist without being charged or convicted of such a crime and without being able to defend himself.

At the time of the events he was a well-known writer of blogs, articles and books, who had also appeared on television. In 2011, he was accused of rape, and in early 2012 of having committed another sexual offence a few years earlier.

Prosecutors later dismissed the cases for lack of evidence.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR is, part of the Council of Europe. The decision of the court may now be appealed to the ECHR's Grand Chamber.

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth

Patrick Smyth is former Europe editor of The Irish Times