British Columbia

'Relentless' online defamation ends with Vancouver woman ordered to pay ex $200K

A Vancouver woman has been ordered to pay $200,000 after she made dozens of online posts on various social media sites, containing false accusations about her ex.

'Ms. Halcrow mounted a campaign against Mr. Rook that was as relentless as it was extensive,' judge rules

'The courts have recognized the internet can be used as an exceedingly effective tool to harm reputations. This is one such case,' wrote B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elliot Myers in a civil ruling that arose after a Vancouver woman published dozens of posts with false information about her ex. (Dado Ruvic/REUTERS)

A Vancouver woman has been ordered by a B.C. court to pay her ex $200,000 in damages after she made more than 85 online posts defaming him on social media sites, including Instagram.

In his ruling, B.C. Supreme Court  Justice Elliot Myers found Noelle Halcrow defamed her ex — Brandon Rook — in a "relentless" and "malicious" campaign. 

Posts in 2016 and 2017 said the Vancouver business consultant had a sexually transmitted disease, cheated, failed at business and was an alcoholic.

According to the ruling, the pair met in 2015 and had an on-again-off-again relationship that ended in July of 2016. The posts started a month later. 

Vancouver libel lawyer Alan McConchie represented the plaintiff, Rook.

McConchie said despite his experience in libel law the details of this case were still able to shock him. He said he was struck by the length of time the posts continued and the severity of the content.

The more than 85 offending posts are listed in a timeline and appendix which take up the last 44 pages of the ruling.

These posts allegedly appeared on various sites including Instagram under various pseudonym accounts. 

Woman said she did not make the posts

Halcrow, the defendant, is described in the court ruling as an unemployed former account executive who represented herself in the civil matter.

She argued that she never made the posts, which she said were published by friends and others, nor did she claim any of the posts were true.

But Justice Myers did not accept Halcrow's defence.

"Ms. Halcrow mounted a campaign against Mr. Rook that was as relentless as it was extensive," the judge said and ordered Halcrow to pay $200,000 in damages and about $40,000 in special damages to cover Rook's "reputation consultant" fees.

"The courts have recognized that the internet can be used as an exceedingly effective tool to harm reputations. This is one such case."

CBC reached out to Halcrow for comment.

Rook also declined direct comment. Speaking through his lawyer, he said he wished to put the matter behind him.

About the Author

Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@CBC.ca @ybrend