GLASGOW, Scotland — A Scotland man accused of using Twitter to call a former school headmaster and adviser to the Scottish government a pedophile because she campaigned for marriage equality, has been ordered to pay her £40,000 in damages.
David Shuttleton, of Barrhead, Scotland, was ordered to pay the damages after engaging in an online attack against education expert Jaye Richards-Hill, because she is lesbian and an advocate for equal marriage.
Shuttleton attacked Richards-Hill on Twitter, branding her “freaky and utterly perverted”, a “predatory homosexual” and a “danger to children”, among other other homophobic messages.
Shuttleton was also accused of sending tweets to Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, warning that Richards-Hill — an adviser to Scottish Education Secretary Mike Russell — puts Scottish children “in grave danger.”
The online attack began in July 2012, shortly after Richards-Hill staged a mock wedding with her wife, Ruth, outside the Scottish Parliament in support of marriage equality. The couple was married in 2010 in South Africa.
The cyber-bullying continued for more than three months, and after repeated calls for him to stop, Richards-Hill sued Shuttleton for defamation of character.
Prosecutors alleged that Shuttleton acted in a defamatory manner by posting the anti-gay tweets.
After Shuttleton failed to lodge a proper defence, a judge ruled in his absence, ordering him to pay £40,000 in damages, plus costs, reported the Scottish Daily Record.
Richards-Hill was also granted an injunction against Shuttleton preventing him from using social media to harass or abuse her in any way. A separate criminal complaint against Shuttleton is pending.
The case is being seen as an important victory for victims of cyber-bullying and homophobia in Scotland.
A source close to Richards-Hills told KaleidoScot it was a first ever such legal case inn Scotland, and said Richards-Hills “was happy that such a odious man has been brought to book and should now realize there is no place for his prejudiced and bigoted attitude in a twenty first century Scotland.
“This was nothing to do with freedom of speech, but everything to do with the law of the land which protects everyone from having to suffer abuse and harassment just based upon their sexuality, color or creed,” said the source.