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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45306
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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A colleague has lied through her teeth and slandered me. I

Resolved Question:

A colleague has lied through her teeth and slandered me. I have since been made redundant and I believe her lies have been taken into consideration for the redundancy.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Briefly, how were you slandered?

Customer:

She had a grievance brought against her by another colleague and twisted the blame onto me. She spread the gossip through out the office and peoples attitude changed towards me including my managers. this is not the first time she has spread gossip or rumours about me

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

Just over 3 years

Ben Jones :

When were you dismissed and have you appealed the dismissal?

Customer:

No I heard about her slander when it was to late to appeal

Ben Jones :

ok let me get my response ready please

Customer:

I have an appointment and need to leave home in 5 minutes will I be able to pick up your answer when I come back home?

Ben Jones :

It's actually ready now. Whilst this may appear to be a potential case of defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are extremely difficult to pursue. Many people are intent on suing for defamation without having any appreciation of the law behind them, so I will try and clear things up for you now.


 


First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:


 


1. The statement has to be untrue.


2. It must directly identify the complainant.


3. It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.


4. It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.


5. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.


 


Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has occurred, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is extremely complex and expensive. As this goes through the High Court, you would need the professional help of specialist defamation solicitors and the costs are undoubtedly going to run into the thousands right at the outset. Also there is no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally. So when you hear about defamation claims being made, these are usually pursued by big corporations or celebrities who have a public image to protect.


 


You must also consider whether the party alleged of making the defamatory statement can defend the claim. Even if you satisfy the criteria to prove the statement was defamatory it could be defended on a number of grounds, including by providing evidence that the statement was substantially true or an honest opinion.


 


There is of course nothing stopping you from contacting the other party and threatening them that what they have done amounts to defamation and that you will consider pursuing the matter further if they do not retract their statement. Issue is that the damage has already been done so this will not get you very far. Therefore all you can do is sue them for defamation but it would be very risky to do so because you will be spending over £15,000 quite likely and may not get anything back, because even if you win there is no guarantee the other person would be able to pay.


 


The main way to challenge this would have been by making a claim for unfair dismissal but unfortunately you are now too late to do so, which means your option for making a defamation claim is the only thing available in the circumstances.

Customer:

Why is it too late for unfair dismissal?

Ben Jones :

I thought you said you were out of time? Or were you just referring to the internal appeal?

Customer:

No I had to appeal the redundancy decision by 13.06.2014 and I heard this news on 15.06.2014. My employment finishes on 30.06.2014

Ben Jones :

ah I see, in that case unfair dismissal is still an option - you have 3 months from the date of termination of employment to claim

Customer:

Thank you. I will come back later I need to leave for my appointment

Ben Jones :

ok no problem

Customer:

Hi what do I need to do next?

Ben Jones :

In what respect?

Customer:

I think this women needs to face up to what she has done. Can I write to her or do I have to try and sue my ex company for unfair dismissal?

Ben Jones :

you can do both but they are entirely separate. The unfair dismissal claim is only against the employer, it will not affect her in any way, unless the employer then decides to take their own action against her, for example to discipline her. But you can write to her at the same time al;though writing to her won't do much, she could easily ignore this

Customer:

The company I worked for have always treated me well. It this women and I suppose the manager of the department for believing her or for not investigating the accusations who are at fault. I am in a catch 22 situation I am damned either way

Ben Jones :

the employer would bear some responsibility for their employees' actions, the key is whether they investigated this matter in a reasonable manner before making a decision, but if there were no reasons to doubt her account and did everything by the book, there is a chance the dismissal could be fair in which case you are left with the defamation claim as discussed earlier

Customer:

My manager interviewed me and asked what had been said (I did not know at this time about the slander). I told her the truth and she chose to ignore it. The HR department would have heard the slander story too plus other work colleagues who have ignored me. I cannot afford thousands of pounds for the defamation claim. How much would the unfair dismissal claim cost me?

Ben Jones :

fees and hearing costs would be around £1.2k. Before you claim you must try and negotiate with the employer through ACAS so it could result in a settlement without you having to make a claim, but they cannot be forced to agree on that

Customer:

OK I have to chat to my husband this is a big decision to take. Thanks for advice

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 45306
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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