Dying Matters Chair helps murdered woman's family win Facebook appeal

13 November 2015
Dying Matters Chair Gary Rycroft has played a pivotal role in the removal from Facebook of photographs which showed a young woman with the man who murdered her.

Hollie Gazzard was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Asher Maslin in February 2014 at the Gloucester hairdressing salon where she worked. After her death, the 20-year-old's Facebook profile, which included photographs of her and Maslin, who is serving a life sentence for killing her,  was "memoralised". 

Hollie's father Nick Gazzard lobbied Facebook to ask them to remove the nine images of Hollie and her killer, but the social media giant refused, saying that they couldn't make changes once a person's page had been frozen. Nick launched a campaign to have the photos taken down, which received more than 11,000 signatures. He also spoke to Dying Matters Chair, solicitor Gary Rycroft, who was invited to give Nick legal advice for the BBC Programme 'Inside Out West' (Nick is pictured below, left, looking at Hollie's Facebook pictures with Gary).

Gary Rycroft speaks to Nick GazzardGary, who is also Chair of the digital assets working group of the Law Society, advised Mr Gazzard to write to Facebook, withdrawing the copyright of the photographs, which were taken by Hollie, and asking for the specific pictures to be removed. Shortly afterwards, Nick logged on to Hollie's profile and saw that the images had been removed. Mr Gazzard posted a message on Facebook welcoming the move, writing: "We are delighted to confirm that today, Facebook have removed the offending photos from Hollie's memorialised Facebook account and now we can all browse her photos without getting upset."

Gary, who regularly gives legal advice on the BBC's consumer rights programme 'Rip Off Britain', said: "Nick’s issue was that he wanted to retain Hollie’s Facebook profile as a memorial to her. But on Hollie’s profile there were photos of her murderer.

"I advised Nick on how he could resolve this complex issue. I suggested he and his wife, as the persons entitled to Hollie’s estate, could revoke the copyright of any the photos she took, so Facebook would be compelled to take down the offending ones. I am delighted for their sake that Facebook and their lawyers heeded this request." 

Facebook said the pictures were removed because of a copyright claim.

A Facebook spokesperson told the BBC: "Through our memorialisation policies we aim to help families find ways to remember and celebrate their loved ones on Facebook whilst respecting the privacy of the deceased."


Rip Off Britain: Gary Rycroft gives his expert legal advice 

Gary's blog: Making a Will has never been more important

Gary's blog: The legal system isn't to blame for Mental Capacity Act fails

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