An ill mother has won a landmark legal battle to unmask the online bullies who have tormented her.
Brighton woman Nicola Brookes, who was hounded by “trolls” impersonating her on Facebook, took the social networking site to the High Court to demand it hand over the perpetrators’ details.
Ms Brookes, who suffers from chronic Crohn’s Disease, suffered “unbearable” online taunts and insults after posting a comment online in support of Woodingdean X-Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza.
At the High Court a judge ordered Facebook to release the personal details of the offenders, which the US-based company has agreed to do under Californian law.
Now Facebook, which did not contest the order, has four weeks to supply everything it knows about the individuals who made Ms Brookes’ life a misery.
Ms Brookes said: “These people are breaking the law so it is fantastic that we should now be able to find out who they are.
“Hopefully these people are now scared in the same way that I was scared when they were harassing me.”
Four months ago The Argus launched the Safer Surfing campaign to put pressure on Sussex Police to dedicate officers to the detection and arrest of cyber bullies.
Ms Brookes’ lawyer said the High Court ruling was “an embarrassment” for the force.
Rupinder Bains, a senior partner at Bains Cohen, said: “It should have been the police’s job to get these details from Facebook but they have completely failed in their responsibility to do that.
“After the ruling a senior officer even called to congratulate us on winning the case. But the whole point is that the police should have been dealing with this from the start.
“It should never have taken a private action to help bring these people to justice.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “We have looked at the material sent to us by Ms Brookes and we have told Facebook to remove anything offensive or abusive towards her.
“The matter is still the subject of an active police investigation and has recently been reviewed.
“We are also seeking information from Facebook and the fact that the High Court has given authority to apply for the information required from Facebook is welcomed and may help our investigation.”
A Facebook spokesman said: “There is 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.”