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Nicola-mod
Nicola-mod, Moderator
Category: Law
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Hello my husband and I run a hostel for the homeless, he has

Customer Question

Hello my husband and I run a hostel for the homeless, he has been accused of rasism by a guy and has been voluntary to the police station to give a statement, it was a taped interview and it was explained to him that if he did not go the police would come and arrest him, we know that this is rubbish and it will be proved lies before it goes any further, what we need to know is, we work for the local council, they put their clients with us until they are moved into accomodation or they prove they do not have a duty to them, we have been called in by them for a meeting, with regard to the claim and if they decide to stop sending their clients to us we will go out of business, we know that the gentleman made the accusations because he does not want to be at our hostel and that he and his partner wanted to be closer to Norwich, however is there any actions we can take against this guy he has used the racism card just to leave our premises we have looked after families, single people, drug addicts, recovering drug addicts, domestic violence alcholics and mental health patients discharged with no where to go, we have dealt with all nationalities and all walks of life, we dont judge we never have and we have been running the hostel since 1997. We need to know if when this claim is proved a pack of lies if we can take him to court for defammation of character, mud sticks, everyone we know is shocked at these accusations and have all offered to speak to the police, however my husbands name needs to be cleared.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

What allegedly did your husband say exactly?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry I have been so long in replying but the council have rung and are removing all their clients so it looks like we will be going out of business. I have also listened to the cassette from Larry's interview yesterday he is told on the tape that he is not under arrest and that the claim is Racial Agravated Harassment. He is alledged to have said that Johns appearance would frighten old ladies because he is black that he was not happy that he was here as he dont serve blacks at the hotel This was a conversation outside the front doors of the hotel at 12 oclock at night my husband had gone out to lock up and John was out there smoking with his partner and had one of his children in a buggy larry said if he put the buggy on the first step baby would be warmer and they could see them. They were then just talking and John said that he noticed women pulled their bags closed to them when they see him, Larry said he could understand that as old people could be afraid by his appearance, John said what cause I am black and Larry said there is that but his dreadlocks and general appearance could put people off. His brother in law stated that larry had said in the bar that John came off a Banana Boat and did not fit in. His partner said that larry said he has a friend in america who is black and he would not serve him in the bar as he doesnt like blacks. His statement also states that John said he went to the council and said he wanted to move from here as he felt threatened, he was told by the council that unless the police felt there was a problem they would not move him he then went to the police, his partner also stated that larry made them feel threatened accused him of being a thief. Oviously Larry refutes all this but this does not stop the council clearing our rooms and moving everyone away, once this is sorted can we do anything legally to stop John from doing this to someone else. I have rang the police to come and take statements from all the residents here before they move away and it makes it a problem.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
So, in summary, your question is whether you can stop him making allegations against somebody else?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


FOR JOMO1972 Well thats part of it but where do we stand legally with this accusation, it is almost certain that we will go out of business because of these unfounded accusations, I rang the police immediatly after the council rang to tell me that all their clients were leaving and they sent 4 officers to take statements before the witnesses left. The police were also going up to the council to ask why they had taken this action as Larry has not be arrested or charged, I also have a meeting with the council tomorrow at 3.00 I want to take this guy through the courts for lying about something that is so serious. Where do we stand in this and what are we expected to do next. The police took 8 statements from people here do we just have to wait and how long could it take.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks.

Could you ask a more specific question? I'm not sure what you want to know? Where do I stand could attract a number of answers but they probably wouldn't be what you wanted to know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Could we take the guy to court for say deffamation of character, or libel, we do not feel that he should be allowed to do this, what are our chances of prosecuting him. I appreciate we do not have any recourse with the council because we do not have a contract with them, I have a meeting this afternoon but do not expect any luck with them placing their clients back with us even though the Sargent went up to see them when he had finished taking statements. He was livid as he explained, Larry had not been charged,or cautioned, he went voluntary, and they only wanted a statement from him to see if there was a case to answer, the sargent said its supposed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for that.

These comments may be defamatory. Defamation takes two forms. One is slander which covers the spoken word. The other is libel which covers the written.

You have to prove that the words are defamatory, that they would be understood to refer to you and that they have been published to a 3rd party.

Comments made directly to a person about themselves are not published and so cannot be defamatory however bad or untrue they are. If such contact were to continue it might amount to harassment.

There is no set definition of defamation. A statement is likely to be considered defamatory if it tends to do anyone of the following.

1 lower the claimant in the estimation of right minded members of society

2 disparage the claimant in his business, trade, office or profession

3 expose the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt or

4 cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided

An opinion, however, is not generally defamatory. People are entitled to an opinion under the human rights act and, indeed, under the common law generally. However, a person cannot hide behind the argument that a defamatory comment is just an opinion. For instance, if the person were to say “in my opinion, X is a liar with 15 convictions for theft" then that would be defamatory unless it were true. The opinion must be fair with some basis for it. It must be shown that it was a reasonable comments in all the circumstances.

Similarly, foul abuse is not defamatory although there might be other actions open to an aggrieved person.

Truth is a defence to defamation. The defendant would have to prove that it was the truth and that is reasonably hard to do so this defence is not often relied upon.

The real difficulty with defamation actions though is that they are very expensive. Unfortunately they are the domain of the very rich. That is not to say that you couldn't send a letter from a local solicitor for reasonable cost warning this person of the laws of libel and slander.

Also, you may want to consider other alternatives. This may amount to harassment which you can report to the police or sue at the civil courts much more economically. It might also be a malicious communication and you can report that to the police.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need any more information.
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

Just a quick reminder, there is an unrated answer waiting for you here from the Professional.

If the Expert was helpful, rating their answer as satisfactory transfers your deposit to them – this is how the Expert is compensated. If you still need help with your question, please feel free reply to the Expert on this question page. You may ask as many follow-up questions on the same question page as you need until you are satisfied.

Thank you,
Nicola

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