Bains Cohen takes on Facebook in internet bullying case

London firm Bains Cohen and 5RB’s David Hirst have convinced the High Court that Facebook should be forced to reveal the identities of cyber-bullies.

Bains Cohen has secured a Norwich Pharmacal order against Facebook for client Nicola Brookes, who was targeted by bullies on the social networking site after posting comments supporting Frankie Cocozza, a singer who appeared on TV show The X Factor.

The bullies set up a fake Facebook profile in Brookes’s name, branded her a paedophile and posted her address online. Brookes plans on bringing a private prosecution against her alleged tormentors once their email and IP addresses have been disclosed by Facebook.

The Norwich Pharmacal order has not yet been served but Facebook is aware of it, according to Bains Cohen name partner Rupinder Bains, and reports suggest that the company will comply with the order. When the sealed High Court order is delivered to Bains Cohen, expected today (12 June), the order will then be served to Facebook’s headquarters in California. Facebook has four to six weeks to cough up the information, but Bains thinks the media attention surrounding the case will mean it will act quicker than that.

Bains is acting for Brookes on a pro-bono basis and has turned to 25 Bedford Row’s John Cooper QC over a possible private prosecution of the cyber-bullies.

“We do a lot of internet defamation but usually it’s for business,” said Bains. “This is the first case we’ve done for an individual and took it on because of the severity of the [bullying].

“Internet bullying is a real problem and people don’t realise they can go to the police for help – and the police don’t always know that people can go to them for help on this sort of thing either.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said: “There’s no place for harassment on Facebook, but unfortunately a small minority of malicious individuals exist online, just as they do offline. We respect our legal obligations and work with law enforcement to ensure that such people are brought to justice.”