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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I wonder if you can help me with a query regarding libel/slander? Here

Resolved Question:

I wonder if you can help me with a query regarding libel/slander?
Here is some background: a local developer and district councillor wishes to revive a local derelict public swimming pool. I am very suspicious of the man and his motives and have written a number of letters to the local newspaper challenging him on his plans, facts and figures. At no time have I ever exceeded the bounds of politeness in my criticisms – I don’t think the letters would be printed if I did.
Not long ago, he left an intimidating message on my answer machine accusing me of telling ‘a pack of lies’. He also impugned the reputation of another prominent councillor and opponent by saying he was ‘leading everyone up the garden path’.
The developer always promotes himself as an honourable, upstanding ‘man of the people’ and I feel I have a responsibility to let others know that he’s not as fine a figure as he pretends. If I circulated his voicemail message to, say the local newspaper or his fellow councillors, could that be considered a libel/slander? I can’t see how it can be as he wasn’t tricked into leaving the message or it wasn’t recorded without his knowledge – my voicemail system always starts with a conventional invitation to ‘leave a message’.
Thank you
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.
Alex Watts : What is the serious harm you have suffered as a result please?
Customer:

I have suffered no actual harm to my reputation or otherwise. In the pubic interest, I merely wish to let others know of the intimidating nature of the councillor concerned without comeback from him.

Alex Watts :

Yes but one of the tests for slander is you must have suffered serious harm

Alex Watts :

What is it you want to achieve?

Customer:

I wish to use the voicemail message to publicise the councillor's intimidating behaviour and demonstrate that he's not the 'good old boy' he presents himself as. If I make his message public, can he then regard it as slanderous (even though he left the message knowing it would be recorded)?

Alex Watts : Yes you can release this. Unless he stated it was to be kept confidential you can publish it.
Alex Watts : He may be regarded as being slanderous but only if the victim will or had suffered serious harm. That is the test.
Alex Watts : But you can publish this yes.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Customer:

Thanks for this.

Alex Watts : Is there anything else I can help with today?
Customer:

I can confirm that the councillor made no statement in his voicemail that his message to me was confidential. So, just to reiterate, do you confirm that I can pass on his message to others in the public domain without threat of legal action? Incidentally, I forgot to mention that I still have actual message on my voicemail machine as evidence if required.

Alex Watts : Does that help?
Alex Watts : Yes you can disclose it.
Customer:

Thank you Alex, that's the confirmation I required

Alex Watts : Great, if I could invite you to rate my answer before you go. It's the button at the bottom of the screen
Alex Watts : If you need more help please click reply
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