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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69379
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I am being chased for a considerable sum of money by a London

Customer Question

I am being chased for a considerable sum of money by a London council for benefit overpayments for housing. They say they have non disclosable information die to data protection that I was living as a couple with my landlord, which is not true. They have written to my ex landlord stating an investigation has taken place and I have been prosecuted for benefit fraud, again not true. My ex landord is now being persued for the council tax. My first question is, are the council in breach of accusing me of being prosecuted to a third party when I haven't been and then admitting so in an email?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Jo C. :

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

Jo C. :

What would you like to know about this please?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Basically I see that my reputation has been tarnished without prosecution to a third party, is this not lible?
Jo C. :

Who is the third party?

Jo C. :

Also, how do you know they won't prosecute?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Southwark council told my landlord they had prosecuted me, which is not true
Jo C. :

How do you know they won't ?

Jo C. :

Is this a very old matter?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Dates back to 2010 to 2012
Jo C. :

Have they declared they won't prosecute?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Not at all they have said they have prosecuted, I haven't even received any paperwork I only know what my ex landlord has told me as they are being chased for payment
Jo C. :

No, I understand that.

Jo C. :

But have they actually told you that they will not prosecute.

Jo C. :

Have they investigated and made a decision not to prosecute.

Jo C. :

Or do you just not know?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : The answer is I don't know, they say they investigated and prosecuted in 2012', I have not been prosecuted
Jo C. :

Have you been invited in for interview at all?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Yes I was interviewed in October at voluntary discretion and asked for legal representation at a further meeting without answering any questions but wasn't invited back for questioning
Jo C. :

Have you ever been in relationship with him?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : her, and yes
Jo C. :

I see.

Jo C. :

That would change the game for you.

Jo C. :

Was that declared to them?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : No why would I declare a relationship I wasn't in?
Jo C. :

You are supposed to declare if your landlord has ever been your partner.

Jo C. :

You said that you had been in a relationship with her?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Even if she is married?
Jo C. :

Yes

Jo C. :

Have you not done that?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : I didn't say a word under interview
Jo C. :

No, I don't mean that.

Jo C. :

Did you tell the a

Jo C. :

them at the time that you made an application for council tax relief that you were in a relationship with your landlord at some point>

Jo C. :

I suppose it is council tax relief not housing benefit?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : No I claimed my rent and council tax benefit
Jo C. :

Ok.

Jo C. :

Did you tell them when you claimed that you had once been in a relationship with the landlady?

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : No
Jo C. :

Thanks.

Jo C. :

Obviously saying that you had been prosecuted is incorrect as you have not.

Jo C. :

Whether it amounts to liab

Jo C. :

libel is more complicated.

Jo C. :

I'm sure

Jo C. :

I'm not sure that making this comment to one person would be sufficient anyway. Certainly a comment can be sufficient to one person depending on the nature of the comment.

Jo C. :

The difficulty here though is that they could argue that their comments were substantially true as indeed you do seem to be the subject of an investigation.

Jo C. :

Difficult to say whether that would succeed. I must admit that I do see a difference between saying that a person had been prosecuted and the truth being that they are under investigation.

Jo C. :

I suppose it depends on the outcome of the investigation.

Jo C. :

Which is probably the primary point here.

Jo C. :

They are clearly investigating some form of allegation that you were living together in a relationship. Obviously you can deny that as its not true.

Jo C. :

The danger here lies in the fact that you should have told them that she was an ex partner. It might not have made any difference to your claim but they were entitled to be told about it I'm afraid.

Jo C. :

Thats not what they are investigating at the moment though.

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Surely in law investigation and prosecution are two very different things, and an email admission that the information submitted was incorrect is pretty concrete?
Jo C. :

They are two different things but I'm afraid I don't think it amounts to defamation.

Jo C. :

Its wrong certainly.

Jo C. :

But its not a statement that is a million miles from the truth.

Jo C. :

It would be different if, for instance, they said that you were being investigated for child cruelty or some other entirely unrelated matter.

Jo C. :

Then it wouldn't be possible to argue that its reasonable in the circumstances.

Jo C. :

The truth is here that you may well be prosecuted unfortunately and then the distinction would fall away.

Jo C. :

Even if you are not then you were being investigated for the offence in question so they could argue fair comment I'm afraid.

JACUSTOMER-mj34rve7- : Ok thanks I'll fight this one through the courts,
Jo C. :

They might well not think to ask whether you've ever been together anyway.

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