Motorcycle parts dealer settles action with Bebo

A MOTORCYCLE parts dealer has settled a High Court action against social networking site Bebo for allegedly allowing his name to be used on a website to post defamatory comments about a biking champion killed in a racing accident.

Derek Traynor, who operates a web-based spare parts and accessories business, claims Bebo wrongfully allowed defamatory comments to be published on a site dedicated to the Dublin man, Martin Finnegan, who died at the Tandragee 100 race meeting in Armagh in May 2008. The comments were allegedly posted for eight days almost immediately after his death.

Mr Traynor, Clonross, Drumree, Meath, claims the comments, posted by somebody using his name, meant that he took pleasure in the death of Mr Finnegan using highly derogatory language about somebody who died in tragic circumstances.

Bebo Incorporated, with offices in San Francisco, USA, had denied the claims. Its security department told him shortly after the comments went up that it could only release details of who posted the messages if it was subject to a court order or official request from the gardaí.

The High Court heard yesterday there had been a settlement between the parties under the terms of an application by Mr Traynor for better legal disclosure of documents related to the case. Mr Traynor had sought an order for Bebo to disclose the identity of people responsible for authoring the alleged defamatory statements and the internet service provider address of those people.

Mr Traynor said he is involved in the motorcycling road racing sport and would be clearly understood and reasonably presumed to be he person responsible for posting messages with the username “DerekTraynor”.

He claimed the messages were published on two “fan sites” for the late Mr Finnegan between May 4 and 11, 2008.

He said he was not the author of those messages and did not have a Bebo account until May 5, 2008, when he set up one in order to correct the “defamatory impression” given by the messages. He wrote he was appalled that anyone would make such comments and he had great respect for Mr Finnegan, who he had also competed against.

Mr Traynor said even though he got Howth Garda Station to put in an official request to furnish gardaí with the identity of the poster of the message, he was not supplied with it.

He claimed Bebo failed to remove the messages with due expedition despite his requests for it to do so and acted negligently by refusing or failing to publish any disclaimer about their truth or accuracy.

He was, he said, the victim of a most serious wrongdoing.

Bebo failed to exercise any reasonable care over the posting of the messages, he said, and he sought damages for defamation and breach of duty.


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