Friends in Facebook showbiz feud face High Court battle

A SHOWBIZ executive has launched a high court bid against a former friend who allegedly created an unflattering profile of him on Facebook at his Hampstead home in the first ever case of its kind. Mathew Firsht, manager of Applause Store Productions which

A SHOWBIZ executive has launched a high court bid against a former friend who allegedly created an unflattering profile of him on Facebook at his Hampstead home in the first ever case of its kind.

Mathew Firsht, manager of Applause Store Productions which entertains crowds outside the Big Brother house, has launched a claim against cameraman Grant Raphael which could leave him in "financial ruin".

If the case is successful it could open the floodgates for hundreds of cases over content being uploaded onto the hugely-popular social networking site.

Mr Firsht's counsel Lorna Skinner said: "He values his privacy highly and it was gross invasion of his privacy, namely having his personal details, including false details concerning his sexuality laid bare for all to see on Facebook that caused him the most distress."


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The account, which was spotted by Mr Firsht's twin and removed 16 days later by Facebook officials, had a photograph of Mathew Firsht, his date of birth and religion.

The user also started a group entitled "Has Mathew Firsht lied to you?" and alleged he owed money and his company were financially untrustworthy, the lawyer said.

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The account was also signed up to groups linked to Big Brother, "Gay in the Wood...Borehamwood" and "Gay Jews in London."

The pair, who attended the same school and synagogue when they lived in Brighton, were close friends until seven years ago.

Mr Raphael claims the account, set up from his Facebook profile on the computer in his Willoughby Road home on June 19 2007, was created by a group of four strangers he had brought home from a night out in Bar Room Bar, formerly on Hampstead High Street.

In response to detailed information on searches committed by his account that day - Mr Raphael said he was intermittently using the site, while the strangers hacked into it, used it and set up the fake Mathew Firsht account.

He also claimed the searches were of people he knew - because he had lists of names next to his computer of people with which he had worked, which the fraudsters must have used.

Giving evidence in the dock on Tuesday he repeatedly denied he was the culprit stating: "No, this was not my handiwork."

"I had a list of names of cameramen and other freelancers I would use from time to time. I was constantly using people for jobs," he said.

When he eventually did realise the fraud and saw the site in Mr Firsht's name, he says he was perplexed.

"I saw the site in the tabs, or on the page history, it was a surreal and shocking thing to see and I was confused as to why it was there. I thought it was some surreal prank or joke, I wasn't sure," he said.

Ms Skinner questioned him repeatedly on his movements that night and the "impromptu" party he held.

He explained: "I don't normally let strangers into my home but I had done in the past from that bar....In Hampstead it is different there is a very close knit community of people, it's a buzzing place."

Ms Skinner warned Mr Raphael that if he loses he faces not only damages but "substantial" costs which could lead to his "financial ruin".

The case which is being heard by Deputy Judge Richard Parkes QC continues.

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