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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 47644
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I was a senior teacher in a small independent special needs

Customer Question

I was a senior teacher in a small independent special needs school until a year ago when I moved on to be a SENCO in a large secondary school. My adult son, aged 26, continues to be a Teaching assistant in my previous school. He has told me today that, in a staff meeting, it was explained to the staff group that the mother of a Year 11 student has accused him of waging a vendetta of bullying against her son. And the mother maintained this was because I had been incompetent before I left.....
I feel quite angry about this on so many levels.
I put up with so much nonsense when I worked at that school, including the fact that this boy was frequently racist and anti Semitic, but now I have left I can't be doing with it anymore. I have a really good professional reputation which I would like to preserve!
is there any action I could take?
Of course I wouldn't have known about any of this if my son didn't still work at the school, but even so I wouldn't have expected him to know about these 'allegations' in a public forum eg a staff meeting.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
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. This could prompt them to reconsider their position, but I would not recommend that you actually proceed with a claim for defamation due to the issues highlighted above.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? I just need to know whether you need further help or if I can close the question? Thank you