Stephen Nolan on this Twitter troll war: ‘His little fantasy world collapsed around him’
Stephen Nolan has declared war on the Twitter trolls behind a “vicious, vile and unwarranted” online hate campaign – with the first person identified paying at least £100,000 in damages.
The BBC journalist and broadcaster has vowed to pursue a number of other people operating anonymous social media accounts, claiming they are “concocting lie after lie” in an effort to have him sacked.
The high-profile host of the Nolan Show and BBC Radio 5 Live has also called on politicians to legislate to protect online abuse sufferers who can’t afford the prohibitive cost of private legal action.
Having agreed to pay a six-figure damages settlement, the person identified as operating the ‘Pastor Jimberoo’ and ‘Pastor Jimberoo’s Ghost’ Twitter accounts is not being named by Nolan or his legal team.
The journalist said he can handle some strong criticism, but has decided to draw the line at sustained personal abuse and is “going after them,” with another settlement due to be announced on Friday and two civil court actions already being prepared.
“It is about intent and it is about maliciousness. It is about what they’ve said and why they’ve said it. This guy was trying to get me sacked.
“This troll sent out a petition trying to get me sacked. He wrote to the BBC complaining about me.
“Tried to concoct lie after lie about me, so I am glad that he now understands his errors, and he better not ever do it again.”
It is still not known if the online campaign was politically motivated in any way.
Nolan said was fed up “feeling helpless,” and added: “I saw the look on this guy’s face when he received notice that I knew who he was and where he lived and, let me tell you, his little fantasy world collapsed around him.”
Nolan said it is particularly shocking that the person he took the legal action against is someone who would be respected by those around him, and not the type of person you would imagine to be incessantly abusing anyone online.
“If you’ve got a some type of public platform that will attract a certain amount of abuse, but what this guy was doing was every single day he was obsessed with me. He was just making stuff up on a constant basis, clearly designed to damage me.
“And this guy has got a good job, and is someone that people around him and who encounter him would respect. So that kind of double life he was leading, trying to destroy me, was disgusting.”
Nolan has also called for Stormont to act.
“There needs to be a discussion in Northern Ireland on whether the law needs to be changed,” he said.
“Not everybody has a lot of money, and not everybody can access lawyers... but people should be able to live their lives without the fear of people targeting them on Twitter to such an extent that it becomes a complete trolling campaign.
“Stormont [MLAs] can do something about that if they want to and it’s up to them. Many of them have experienced it and many of them know what this feels like just as much as I do. You feel helpless. That is why I decided to go for it.
“There is so much abuse online, and obviously way beyond me, so there are many decent, good journalists in this country are getting it now on a regular basis and it’s got to stop. The abuse of politicians has got to stop.”
The broadcaster has praised the BBC for its support, and Belfast lawyer Paul Tweed who has represented a number of international figures in libel actions.
“Paul Tweed has worldwide experience in defamation cases and he and I are sitting down and targeting those people who have, in a sustained way, come after me, and/or people that have gone way, way beyond the mark,” he said.
“I do worry for those people that don’t have that, but that is where the law should come in. Stormont should come in to protect people.”
Commenting on how many more people can expect a call from Mr Tweed, Nolan said: “As many as would want to hurt me with a vicious, vile, unwarranted campaign.
“At moment, there will be another settlement announced tomorrow (Friday) morning and we are preparing court cases against two individuals.
“I shouldn’t have let it go on this long, and I’m hoping the message that I send out is also a message on behalf of other people who maybe don’t have the means to defend themselves.”
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