Statement in open court in international online harassment claim

A statement in open court was made today before Mr Justice Nicklin in Dr Erica Smith v Dr Christopher Backhouse, following the acceptance of a Part 36 offer of nearly £50,000.

The statement in open court is available to view in full here.

Dr Smith, an academic in the United States, brought a claim for misuse of private information and harassment against Dr Backhouse, a Fellow at University College London in December 2021. As was explained in the statement in open court, Dr Smith’s claim was over an anonymous campaign of serious harassment over many months, which included, amongst other conduct, the publication online of fabricated pornographic images falsely purporting to be of her alongside her real contact details, death threats, a threat to deceive police into sending an armed response to her address, and the receipt of unwanted deliveries to her house.

Proxy servers from around the world were used to obfuscate the IP address from which the conduct originated, but through a series of applications in the United States and in the High Court of England and Wales an IP address associated with Dr Backhouse’s address was identified.

Dr Backhouse filed a Defence denying liability. The claim was settled in August 2022 with Dr Backhouse agreeing to pay Dr Smith £49,975 and her legal costs. Dr Backhouse has also agreed to provide various undertakings to the court.

The Guardian covered the case here.

5RB’s Ben Hamer, instructed by Iain Wilson, Adham Harker and Percy Preston of Brett Wilson LLP, acted for Dr Smith. Andrew Stebbins of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs acted for Dr Smith in the United States.