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British police officer outed as troll in Facebook harassment case
A successful Facebook subpoena revealed that Lee Rimel, a 32-year-old West Midlands officer, was part of a trolling campaign against Nicola Brookes, 45.
Nicola Brookes, the U.K. woman who was hounded so severely by trolls on Facebook that she successfully sued to learn their identities, now has the name of one of the people harassing her.
It’s Lee Rimel, a 32-year-old police officer.
Brookes won a landmark case in June, when she convinced a court that online bullies had gotten severe enough that she should be allowed to subpoena Facebook for their real identities.
She said she did little to warrant the trolls’ ire, simply posting encouragement on a Facebook page devoted to Frankie Cocozza, her daughter’s favorite reality star. That made her a target, however, for bullies who made fake accounts with her name and photo to pose as a pedophile looking to abuse children.
Rimel, who allegedly used the pseudonym Cuthbert Bollingsworth-Smythe, was arrested last week, and is already out on bail. He’s the first of four suspected trolls who participated in Brookes’s harassment to be outed and arrested.
On Tuesday, someone created a Facebook page for “Cuthbert Bollingsworth-Smythe.” There’s little content on it so far—8 likes—but it seems to be a defense of Rimel. Its sole post says:
“I’d just like to say that ‘Cuthbert’ is not the person he’s being made out to be, he is actually a really nice guy and he has been a very good friend to me in the 9 Months I have known him, there is always another side to a story and until you know both sides and all the facts, please do not judge him on what you read and remember innocent until proven guilty.”
West Midlands Police, where Rimel is an officer, haven’t suspended him, but a spokesperson for the department said they’re assisting officers on Brookes’s case.
Photo via BBC News
A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.