5 years ago... Demon pledges to contest Godfrey lawsuit

Cue legal precedent...

Cue legal precedent...

15.06.99: As Demon Internet insisted it will continue to contest the defamation lawsuit brought by London-based academic Dr Laurence Godfrey, Net industry bodies have voiced their fears over a preliminary ruling that found against Demon.

Late last week, civil liberties groups expressed concern after Demon chose not to challenge a pre-trial ruling made in March. Among other things, the ruling found the internet service provider (ISP) couldn't use the so-called 'Internet defence' of innocent distribution of defamatory information after a forged message - made to look like it was from Dr Godfrey - was posted to one of its newsgroups in January 1997.

15.06.04: This long-running case eventually came to a conclusion in March 2000 and left Godfrey £250,000 better off when Demon settled.

By July 2000 ISPs, concerned about the precedent this set, were looking into ways of protecting themselves against such libel cases in the future.

The precedent also provided cause for concern among any company running messageboards - perhaps most famously Friends Reunited. The popular site, which aims to put old school friends in touch with one another, started to receive complaints after allegations of abuse were made against teachers on the site by former pupils.