In March 2023, reality TV personality, Stephen Bear was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment following his criminal convictions for voyeurism and the disclosing of private sexual photographs or films with the intent to cause distress, having posted secretly-filmed images of Georgia Harrison on the OnlyFans website.
The case demonstrated that the sharing of personal and intimate videos and images without consent has become easier than ever and, as a result, the challenge around how to ensure online safety has become a priority for law makers.
On 26 July 2023, the civil courts ordered Bear to pay the sum of £207,900 in damages to Ms Harrison for the misuse of her private information, as well as imposing an injunction to prevent Bear from publishing or disclosing the videos again.
The Order made by the court confirms that Bear may be held in contempt of court and imprisoned or fined if he breaches the terms of the injunction. Bear was also ordered to pay £213,515.40 in legal costs.
Bear did not attend the hearing and was not represented by a lawyer.
In her ruling, Master Victoria McCloud reaffirmed the appropriate term for “revenge porn” as image-based abuse and is reported to have described Bear’s conduct a “gross act of violation by a man towards a woman”.
In addition to losing his liberty for his crimes, Bear now must pay over £420,000 in damages and legal costs for grossly violating Ms Harrison’s privacy rights.
In Harrison v Bear, the civil courts have given a clear message that the civil remedies available for victims of image-based abuse have real teeth and that perpetrators may be treated severely.
Hamlins’ Media Disputes department is one of the largest and most successful Media Disputes teams in the UK and is widely recognised as an advisor of choice for both public and private figures seeking advice in relation to defamation, reputation management, pre-publication libel and privacy law. If you would like to find out more about how Hamlins can help you, please get in touch.