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Damages for image-based abuse

By Samantha Follows

Published In: Child Abuse

As the use of social media continues to grow, whilst it can be used positively, there are also potential hazards. The posting of material online (such as films or photos) is a particular issue where it is done without consent. This was highlighted by two cases in 2023.

Man with camera and computers

In one case concerning celebrities Stephen Bear and Georgia Harrison, Bear was convicted of posting footage on OnlyFans (an adult subscription website) of sexual activity with Georgia Harrison. This was done without her consent and Bear received money for doing this.

Criminal charges were brought, and he was found guilty of disclosing sexual photos and films, which were private, to cause distress and also of voyeurism.

Voyeurism is described in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as observing another person doing a private act, knowing that they do not consent, for their own sexual gratification. It also covers situations where the private act of another person is recorded with the intention of the person recording, or a third person, getting sexual gratification from this and knowing that the person being filmed does not consent.

 The Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 created new offences relating to upskirting which cover the recording or viewing of an image under another person’s clothing without their consent.

 In additional to criminal repercussions, civil claims can also be considered.

 The first civil case in this area was FGX v Gaunt in February 2023. In that case the defendant secretly recorded the claimant, his former partner, naked and published the images on a pornographic website.  When the images were published it was clear that the images were of the claimant as he also published a photo of her face.

 In that case the claimant was awarded damages of just over £97,000.

Georgia Harrison also brought a civil claim again Stephen Bear in July last year and was awarded £207,900 in damages. This is the highest sum ever awarded for image-based abuse.

Civil claims will usually be brought on the basis of misuse of confidential information and breach of privacy. In addition, there may be a personal injury element to the claim if injury has been caused. In the case of FGX v Gaunt the claimant had been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the acts of the defendant.

 A claim can also be considered even if the images are not published.

 It’s important to obtain legal advice on a possible civil claim as soon as possible. If you would like advice from one of our experienced team of solicitors, we can guarantee that you will be dealt with sensitively and with the utmost confidence.

Samantha Follows has experience of dealing with claims in this area of the law. If you would like to contact her directly please email or phone 01924 882000

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Samantha qualified as a Solicitor in 1996 and has worked in the area of Child Abuse Compensation for 22 years

Associate Solicitor

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