1. ONce a statement in a work reference is false, then it is defamatory if it tends to lower the person in the esteem of right thinking people. Saying someone is racist is defamatory in its ordinary meaning if it is false. So you have a cause of action for defamation, which you have a year within which to bring against the Social Work manager personally. The issue of confidentiality need not arise, once you can prove the content of the reference. Nor do Data Protection issues arise as you can prove the reference content without making reference to the actual family involved. It is sufficient for evidentiary purposes that you had the permission of the family to talk to the school about all issues. Secondly, you can also make a complaint about this Social Work manager to whatever Local Authority employ her. However, be aware that this is a much less powerful remedy than legal proceedings against the person themselves.