For several months after the cyberstalking began, Lee David Clayworth said he started every day by checking to see what defamatory material his ex-girlfriend had posted about him overnight.
Photo Credit: CBC

Teacher helpless to stop web defamation


A Canadian teacher seems powerless to stop an ex-girlfriend from posting countless defamatory and offensive comments about him on the web. The postings are harming his search for a job, says 35 year-old Lee David Clayworth.

Clayworth was teaching in Malaysia when he dated Lee Ching Yan for several months in 2010.  After they split up he says she broke into his apartment and stole his laptop and hard drive. She used this to send messages to all of his contacts saying he had had sex with young students. That was the beginning of a relentless series of derogatory comments about him on the web.

Lee Ching Yan was found guilty of contempt of court, for continuing to harass Clayworth with online postings after a court ruled they were defamatory. © CBC

A Malaysian court ordered posts taken down and later convicted Lee Ching Yan of contempt for not obeying the order.  She was ordered to pay Clayworth the equivalent of $66,000 but she left the country before the orders could be enforced.

Google, Bing and Yahoo were asked by him to make his name unsearchable. They have not. Now that he is back in Vancouver Clayworth has asked local police for help. They agreed to investigate but if charges are laid and Lee is found guilty it will be difficult to arrest her because she is outside the country.

“Internet defamation, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, all of these things are unfortunately becoming more and more common,” said Allen Mendelsohn, internet law specialist. “As people have problems in the real world they tend to take those problems on line now so I deal with cases like this on a pretty regular basis.”

Canada has no specific laws for this type of situation, he said, but authorities and the courts have done a very good job of taking existing laws and applying them to internet cases. Specifically they have applied laws against criminal harassment with penalties of jail time. In civil law, victims have sued for defamation and gained monetary compensation.

“If all of the parties are within one country it’s relatively easy,” said Mendelsohn. “The problem with this particular case is that the case and the facts cross a lot of borders.”

This posting labelling Clayworth a ‘horny teacher’ was just one of hundreds the court found Yan was responsible for. © CBC

Facebook is unlikely to act on a request to remove defamatory posts unless ordered to do so by a court in the United States where it is headquartered, said Mendelsohn. Search engines are not likely to act at all. “Google, for example, will not necessarily listen to any court orders because their principal stand has always been ‘We are not responsible for policing the internet, we don’t host the content. Go to the website operators to get the content removed. Don’t ask us to remove items from the search engine.’”

Individual countries have passed laws against cyberbullying but there are no international agreements to try to stop it when it crosses borders. Until such agreements are forged Mendelsohn suggested individuals take steps to protect themselves.

Your own computer should be protected by a password to prevent others from using it maliciously, he said, and make sure all the passwords you use across various services are good ones and different from each other.

Categories: Uncategorized

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.