Google Inc is not responsible for allegedly defamatory online comments that appeared in its Internet search results, a British judge ruled in a decision made known on Monday.

Google's automated search engine trawls the Web and indexes content without any human input, said Justice David Eady. As such, he said, Google can not be considered a publisher under English law.

The case centered around Metropolitan International Schools, a European provider of long-distance vocational skills for adults, which sued Google as well as an online bulletin board for negative comments posted about its business practices.

Justice Eady said that Metropolitan International would have no reasonable prospect of success in holding Google liable for the comments.

Google had not authorized or caused the comments to appear on a user's computer screen, the judge wrote in a decision dated July 16.

It has merely, by the provision of its search service, played the role of the facilitator, the judge wrote in his decision.

Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker said in a statement the company was pleased with the ruling, which he said reinforced the principle that search engines are not responsible for content that is published on third-party web sites.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing Bernard Orr)