The Daily Mail-owned Northcliffe Media has dropped its attempt to unmask a tweeter who set up a spoof account to make fun of its CEO, Steve Auckland.
Earlier this week, it emerged that Northcliffe Media, the regional arm of the Daily Mail group, had issued a subpoena to Twitter requesting it reveal the identity of the person behind the usernames @UnSteveDorkland, @SteveDorkland and @Northcliffestev.
Twitter had indicated it would comply with the request, but suspended its decision when the user behind the account filed a legal defence. The case was due to be heard in a San Francisco court on 6 September.
However, a tweet at midnight on 3 August, from the account in question announced that Northcliffe Media had dropped the case. "Breaking: lawyers for Daily Mail regional arm Northcliffe Media have just voluntarily dismissed their case against me. We won."
In a statement issued to the Press Gazette following the revelation, the anonymous Twitter user said:
"By withdrawing the case against me they have, finally, recognised the futility of their heavy-handed approach and the entirely baseless nature of all the accusations they threw at me in a vainglorious attempt to divert attention from the real issue, namely their idea that by throwing money and bullying tactics at someone you can throttle freedom of speech.
"They underestimated me, they underestimated my lawyer Frank Sommers and they underestimated the power of the worldwide internet community."
Northcliffe Media, which owns a group of regional papers in the UK and is in turn owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust, was widely criticised in the press and on social media platforms for their actions.
Political blogger Guido Fawkes was one of the most ardent supporters of the anonymous tweeter and helped secure him a lawyer in the US, who was willing to work on a no win, no fee basis.
Below is the letter issued to the lawyer Frank Sommers from Northcliffe Media, in which the company claims it issued the subpoena to "protect its employees from the actions of an apparently obsessive individual." It claims the 700 tweets sent over a four week period amounted to "defamation, cyber-bullying and harassment."
The reason if gives for dropping the legal action is to protect its own employees from "direct involvement" with the anonymous tweeter in question. The lawyers adds that it doesn't know if Sommers' client intends to continue using the UnSteveDorkland account, but "our client is hopeful that he or she will give more thought to the line that divides the humourous from the offensive.