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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70406
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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This is an extract from a letter sent to the Trustees where

Resolved Question:

This is an extract from a letter sent to the Trustees where I work. I am a paid operations manager. I want to know if this is defamation? I would like to know what can be done about it to have the person either prove their statement or retract it with an apology.
Quote
"I am highly concerned that my experience of being subjected to the Chief Officer's bullying in the work place is not an isolated incident. I have been made aware of a number of ex employees and volunteers who have left their positions at XXXXX as a direct result of the Chief Officers conduct" Unquote
These allegations are not true. I have never bullied anyone at all , workplace or not. This represents a serious allegation about my character and good standing as an employer it was put in writing to 6 Trustees.
The person who wrote this was dismissed after 7 months our organisation. The dismissal was "by the book" we took legal advice , the procedure was correct and above board.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

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

Who has this been said to please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

This as been written to the 6 Trustees (individually) of the charity.


 


I cannot prove it has been spoken to anyone else, however the character of the person I know, they would not stop short of telling others in the small town we live.

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

An allegation of bullying is certainly sufficient to amount to a defamatory statement.

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

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.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jo


Thank you for your answer, I had read up most of what you have told me.


I know it is a costly thing.


However my question was really, are there grounds based on the extract you read to say this person cannot say such without proof.


 


If that is definite - as you read it - then all I seek from the person is for them to either prove it or withdraw with an apology.


 


I am quite prepared to pay for such a letter but that letter would have to have teeth and not be an idle threat. So as your answer says we could warn about slander and in this case libel, but does what you have read constitute that?


 


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No. There is no wrong doing in making an allegation that cannot be substantiated per se.

Of course, his defence of truth or fair comment may fail for that reason but its not a wrongful act per se.

That is probably a legal distinction though. To most people, the ability to prove what has been alleged is likely to be considered the same thing as having a weak defence of fair comment.
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