Government urged to make Liversedge boy's online bullying campaign into law

A Liversedge youngster with cerebral palsy is moving forward with his campaign to combat online bullying after a Government body made a recommendation for it to become law.

By Staff Reporter
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 6:00 am
Zach Eagling with Chancellor Rishi Sunak
Zach Eagling with Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Zach Eagling, 10, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of three following a brain injury at birth. His mobility and cognitive development are affected, and he also has epilepsy.

Following her son’s diagnosis, Zach’s mum, Claire Keer, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the care he received when he was born.

Its legal team went on to secure a settlement to ensure Zach has access to the lifetime specialist treatment and therapies he requires.

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Zach Eagling

Within the last year, Zach and Claire have also been campaigning for the introduction of Zach’s Law to strengthen legislation in relation to online bullying and trolling.

This came about after the Epilepsy Society’s social pages and followers, including Zach, were targeted with flashing images with deliberate intent to cause seizures and harm to people with epilepsy.

As part of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, the pair are keen to share the progress being made, with Claire confirming that the Law Commission has now made a recommendation for Zach’s Law to become part of the Online Safety Bill.

While it has not been included in the first reading at Parliament, the Epilepsy Society is hopeful it will be included at a later stage in the legislative process.

Claire told her lawyers that she and Zach are also working with social media platforms in creating methods to prevent strobing images on the internet.

They have also attended the Conservative Party conference in Manchester to meet with MPs Dean Russell and Suzanne Webb, who sit on the joint committee for online harms.

Rachelle Mahapatra, the specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell supporting Zach and Claire, said: “Zach is one of the bravest young men I’ve had the privilege of getting to know.

“He’s not only defied the odds time and time again when it comes to his disability, but he and Claire have also continued to push forward with their online bullying campaign.

"Bullying, of any form, is unacceptable and people with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect.

“It’s fantastic to see Zach making such a difference and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.”

As a result of his campaigning, Zach was nominated for the Unsung Hero Award at last year’s Third Sector Awards.

Claire said: “I couldn’t be prouder of Zach and what he’s achieved in the past few years.

"He continues to make incredible progress, having walked laps of his garden for the Epilepsy Society and also taking part in last year’s Superheroes At Home event.

“He hasn’t stopped there and is keen to help others through Zach’s Law. Everything is moving forward with regards to this and we hope it will make it into legislation soon.

"As such, it’s so important for us and the charity to have the backing of the Law Commission and we’re very grateful for the support.

“It’s been exciting for us both to be a part of something so important, and we were delighted when Zach was mentioned in Parliament!

“We can’t wait to see where it takes us.”

Nicola Swanborough, head of external affairs at the Epilepsy Society, said: “We are disappointed that the Bill does not currently include Zach’s Law.

"We have fought a long and tireless campaign, and it is by no means over.

“Zach’s Law has been unanimously recommended by members of the Bill’s joint committee.

"It is now being fully reviewed by the Ministry of Justice and we hope it will be included during the legislative process.

“We owe that to all the people with epilepsy – including Zach.”

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month takes place in March.