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Scotland man ordered to pay $61K for calling teacher a pedophile on Twitter

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

GLASGOW, Scotland — A Scotland man accused of using Twitter to call a former school headmaster and adviser to the Scottish government a pedophile because she campaigned for marriage equality, has been ordered to pay her £40,000 (about $61,000 USD) in damages.

David Shuttleton, of Barrhead, Scotland, was ordered to pay the damages after engaging in an online attack against education expert Jaye Richards-Hill, because she is lesbian and an advocate for same-sex marriage.

Courtesy: Jaye Richards-Hill
This 2012 mock wedding between Jaye (left) and Ruth Richards-Hill in front of the Scottish Parliament sparked a 3-month cyber-bullying campaign against the participants.

Shuttleton attacked Richards-Hill on Twitter, branding her “freaky and utterly perverted”, a “predatory homosexual” and a “danger to children”, among other other homophobic messages.

Shuttleton was also accused of sending tweets to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, warning that Richards-Hill — an adviser to Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell — puts Scottish children “in grave danger.”

The online attack began in July 2012, shortly after Richards-Hill staged a mock wedding with her wife, Ruth, outside the Scottish Parliament in support of marriage equality. The couple was married in 2010 in South Africa.

The cyber-bullying continued for more than three months, and after repeated calls for him to stop, Richards-Hill sued Shuttleton for defamation of character.

Prosecutors alleged that Shuttleton acted in a defamatory manner by posting the anti-gay tweets.

After Shuttleton failed to lodge a proper defense, a judge ruled in his absence, ordering him to pay £40,000 in damages, plus costs, reported the Scottish Daily Record.

Richards-Hill was also granted an injunction against Shuttleton preventing him from using social media to harass or abuse her in any way. A separate criminal complaint against Shuttleton is pending.

The case is being seen as an important victory for victims of cyber-bullying in Scotland.

A source close to Richards-Hills told LGBTQ Nation it was a first ever such legal case inn Scotland, and said Richards-Hills “was happy that such a odious man has been brought to book and should now realize there is no place for his prejudiced and bigoted attitude in a twenty first century Scotland.

“This was nothing to do with freedom of speech, but everything to do with the law of the land which protects everyone from having to suffer abuse and harassment just based upon their sexuality, color or creed,” said the source.

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15 more reader comments:

  1. This is where free speech comes into play, even though it feels non existent.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:03pm
  2. GOOD. POS!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:03pm
  3. Bit of a mess since the guy didn´t even appear in his own defense. A win, to be sure, but…

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:05pm
  4. Alison, I´m sick to death of this “free speech” bs. First of all, it´s the UK, not the US (different standard). Second, she sued him for defamation of character because she is a former teacher and he repeatedly called her a pedophile. Free speech doesn´t come into play here at all.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:08pm
  5. Alison i do hope you know that the UK has different standards and laws than the US lol. Also defamation is actually unconstitutional in the US as well so free speech doesnt get to play in this one or any other things that defamation has appeared into!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:15pm
  6. Timothy “lol” I think Allison´s point was that it is regrettable that the UK has different free speech standards than the US. Also, “lol” perhaps you should be aware that the standard for winning a defamation suit is a lot higher in the US than in the UK. I can call whomever I want a pervert on my Facebook, and be 100% confidant I would win if anyone brought a defamation suit against me. In this country, when someone calls you a pervert on Twitter, you just tell them to go fuck themselves and get on with your day. Wish that were true for the UK as well.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:23pm
  7. If the complaintant was a white male, he would win in the US too..

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:28pm
  8. Sorry, but that is fucking ridiculous.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:28pm
  9. I made a vague point about the difference between the US and UK, you guys read into it too much and the wrong way. Ivel is correct on what I meant.

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:28pm
  10. You´re an idiot Alison, did you get your law degree at Kmart?

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:45pm
  11. the Uk has alot of things that the US feels as a down grade or otherwise insulting.Had this happen myself with two of my UK friends who felt it was funny *and maybe it is over there* to claim i had AIDS *or anything else like it* i found it insulting and it down right hurt my feelings.Though we talked about it and out of respect for me *as a person and not one who follows UK trend* they understand how it makes me feel now and it can be avoided.Once people understand that they are two different places with two different ways of living/being,then things will go much smoothly on all ends.this goes from them to here as well.No im not going to sue anyone for what they say to me and would rather walk away but i also seek respect as a human and as a friend.i would hate to lose good friends over a misunderstanding of cultures.keep that as a reminder

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 10:19pm
  12. Freedom of speech does not protect against libel or slander . . . or sadly, stupidity . . .

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 10:52pm
  13. That´s quite an accusation to make…If this guy had no reason, other than to be malicious, it serves him right!

    Posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 10:54pm
  14. suck rocks fukkker

    Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 12:12am
  15. GOOOOOOD!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 1:12am