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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have been libelled in numerous emails, what action can I

Customer Question

I have been libelled in numerous emails, what action can I take? Can it be a private prosecution?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
HI.

Thank you for your question . My name is XXXXX XXXXX 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 was said exactly?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

 


I suggest you look at sample 6 first. All of these emails came about as a the result of a very nasty pre-pack administration where I lost shares worth £5m, and also lost my reputation because of voluminous scurrilous behaviour. The one about Dursley is because I come from Dursley. There were obviously many, many more, but these are the only ones I got my hands on.


 


Sample 1


 


I have a hunch we may uncover some more unusual, innovative -& perhaps undisclosed-financial arrangements as we now progress eg we aren't sure who the beneficiaries are from some rental payments on the freehold at OP!?!


We will now get on at pace unfettered by this & sort the company out. You should keep a wary eye; any such discoveries may colour the final settlement with AS.


 


Sample 2


 


Dear XXXXX


 


Below is as towering an exhibit of self-delusion & mangled truth as ever you are likely to see. I confess to laughing.


 


I don't intend dignifying this pile of piffle with a response.


 


Peter, welcome to our club. You took your time being admitted by the way.


Unfortunately we aren't a particularly exclusive organisation, containing as we do, almost everyone who has had the truly unique & unforgettable experience of working with Alan.


 


Sample 3


 


From: Andy Nash [[email protected]] Sent: Mon 10/29/2007 8:27 AM


To: XXXXX XXXXX; XXXXX XXXXX


Subject: A thought


 


Don't forget Bill has said "now that ###t has gone I'm more than happy to do anything you want me to to help".


 


Whether he has the ability to help the business review on various items I don't know. Also he may be part of the stable you need to clear out.


 


Best,


 


Andy


 


Sample 4


 


From: Andy Nash [[email protected]] Sent: Sat 11/3/2007 1:35 PM


To: XXXXX XXXXX


Sent: 3 Nov 2007 1:34 PM


Subject: Re: [Maybe spam] RE: Meeting


 


I've no idea what Alan's on but it must be pretty good stuff. Would that he'd share it around.


 


Best,


 


Andy


 


Sample 5


From: Jane Vinson [[email protected]] Sent: Tue 10/30/2007 9:58 AM


To: XXXXX XXXXX; XXXXX XXXXX; Peter Teale


Subject: History Press


 


Just to be clear, unless anyone can prove to me otherwise, I'm almost positive that we acquired History Press at completion of the original transaction in January for a price of $334k. There may have been some funnies around that (surprise, surprise) in that I think Alan did some negotiations around property with Kirsty and her husband however the crux of it is, despite what I think a number of us believed, we did pay for the business at completion.


Jane


 


Sample 6


 


From: Andy Nash [[email protected]] Sent: Wed 11/21/2007 7:49 AM


To: XXXXX XXXXX; Ed Smith; Andrew Betteridge; Chris Dyson; PaulEllison


Cc: XXXXX XXXXX; Jane Vinson


 


I concur 100 % with Peter.


 


We have a new verb " to dursley". We were all "Dursleyed".


 


Best, Andy


 


Sample 6


 


From: Andy Nash [[email protected]] Sent: Wed 11/21/2007 7:00 PM


To: XXXXX XXXXX; Peter Teale


Subject: Three cheers


 


Good progress me hearties - we are making strong progress towards our prize. There may be one or two white knuckle moments before we get there but we will get there.


 


So, chins up, don't waste time with AJS who is a one of life's energy sappers. I'm convinced he is so in love with himself he drinks his bathwater.


 


As the Arabs say "it is written". & as I say "if you can't smile then bloody well grimace".


 


Available anytime if you want to chat.


 


All the best, Andy


 


 


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I'm really sorry but I can't view that amount of information on my ipad.

If you can give me a summary I'll be able to help.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK, One example:


To: XXXXX XXXXX; Peter Teale Subject: Three cheers. Good progress me hearties - we are making strong progress towards our prize. There may be one or two white knuckle moments before we get there but we will get there. So, chins up, don't waste time with AJS who is a one of life's energy sappers. I'm convinced he is so in love with himself he drinks his bathwater. As the Arabs say "it is written". & as I say "if you can't smile then bloody well grimace".

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

To whom have these emails been sent please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

In this instance it was sent by the chairman of the Company to two other directors. But this is just one several comments at which I take great offence as they were part of a campaign of wider denigration which included email to solicitors and other professionals inferring that I had misused Company funds, paid rent to myself etc. etc.


I suffered great loss of reputation from these individuals from whom denigration filtered down through the ranks.

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.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972


 


Two last associated questions and then I will leave it for today.


If there were several similar emails would there be a compounding element making the chance of success better? One other email was to professional advisers and inferred I had done improper things:


I have a hunch we may uncover some more unusual, innovative -& perhaps undisclosed-financial arrangements as we now progress eg we aren't sure who the beneficiaries are from some rental payments on the freehold at OP!?! We will now get on at pace unfettered by this & sort the company out. You should keep a wary eye; any such discoveries may colour the final settlement with AS.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
The greater the number of instances the better generally for a defamation claim.

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