Landmark Ruling Sees £25,000 Damages Paid In ‘Groundbreaking’ Sexting Case


Legal precedent in a sexting case has been set in the UK for the first time.

The case marks the first time damages have ever been paid out in a case about sexting.

The particular case centred around a woman who was encouraged to send explicit photos of herself to her teacher, when she was 16 years old.

And according to the BBC, the decision to pay out damages means that anyone can now bring a claim of compensation to a court, if they were encouraged or manipulated into sending or receiving explicit messages or images.

The woman received £25,000 in compensation in the civil case.

She sent the photos when she was studying at a private school in Kent, called New School.

The accused, William Whillock, the former vice-principal at New School, was initially given a three year community order five years ago, when he pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of a female pupil in a criminal case.

But the woman then launched a separate civil case, seeking damages due to psychological abuse caused by the ordeal.

The woman’s lawyer, David McClenaghan, said: “The case sets a precedent that where sexual abuse takes place, even when it doesn’t involve physical contact, if it involves exchanging sexually explicit images then the victim can recover compensation for that.

“The teacher involved got community service, which in terms of the criminal sanction means he got off very lightly given the impact on my client. So I hope these civil cases where there is a substantial award of damages will have an extra bite and deterrent for these people.

“We know that sexting is a relatively modern phenomenon and know it takes victims of sexual abuse many years to come forward so these cases are just emerging. So I’m sure there are going to be many many many more that will follow through on this. We are involved in several dozen cases involving similar sorts of themes with videos and photographs.”

And although the ruling has been welcomed by some, there have been warnings about the potential problems of such a precedent.

The NSPCC said that although the ruling was important, there was a worry the damages case could be misused, saying: “It’s vital that there are serious punishments that deter offenders from committing these crimes against young people. It’s important for victims to get justice. But it’s equally important to educate children about not sharing this kind of explicit material.

“However, whilst damages could help discourage potential abusers, there is a danger young people could just use this as a way to get cash by suing one another. It’s important for victims to get justice. But it’s equally important to educate children about not sharing this kind of explicit material.

“It can leave them exposed to potential harm or embarrassment and they may well end up seriously regretting their actions.”

Simon Edmunds

Simon is the former editor of Global Dating Insights. Born in Newcastle, he has an English degree from Queen Mary, London and after working for the NHS, trained as a journalist with the Press Association. Passionate about music, journalism and Newcastle United.

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