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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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Libel / defamation? there, I used to work as a self-employed

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Libel / defamation?
Hi there, I used to work as a self-employed dog-walker and pet boarder mainly getting work sub-contracted out from another company, Pets & Pals in Bedfordshire. After a while I decided I would rather work by myself as I wasn't happy with some of the dogs I was given to board, and that I would rather regulate my workload myself. I let P&Ps know and we parted on what I thought was amicable terms. I started up as Harlington Hounds, but as I was going on holiday, left advertising my services until I returned. When I did return I phoned the local village magazine to place an ad and they told me that someone had posted something about me on the Village Community website. I read the post which published by the co-owner (Carlie Thomas) of Pets & Pals which said they had sacked me as they found out I was harming animals in my care. Both myself and Harlington Hounds were clearly named. This post had been on a public website used by Harlington and the surrounding district for village information/ads for 4 days. I contacted Carlie straight away and told her to delete the post and print a retraction/apology - this she did but it was rather half hearted stating in the 'apology' she posted the original articleit as I'd annoyed her (one of their clients wanted to come to me). I immediately posted an article refuting the allegations in the strongest terms, and told Carlie and Eliot(her husband and Co-owner) that the apology wasn't good enough. Eliot then posted a much more effusive and unconditional apology and retraction. I have also had to post retractions etc on 2 other village websites, and contact anyone whose dog I cared for in the village, as I don't know how people had seen the initial post. I have had to delay my advertising campaign until this is sorted. I live in Harlington, whereas the Thomas's don't - they live some 8 miles away. Even though they have apologised I feel the seriousness of their allegations (especially as Carlie is an Ex-police officer), needs some legal action. You can go to prison for harming animals. Can you let me know what we can do about this. I also need some advice regarding the website that posted the allegations, as when you post anything it comes up 'awaiting verification by administrator - thereby also giving credence to the fact that the post may be true. At no point did the website contact me to alert me to the post, or indeed let me refute the allegations before posting. I look forward to hearing from you. Lois Fowler
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Do I have a case to sue them for deformation of character/loss of earnings (I've had to postpone advertising), Do I have any comeback on the website who published this article without first giving me a chance to refute it?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Making an allegation that you harm animals is capable of amounting to a defamation.
A publisher of a defamation is liable as much as it's author.
Obviously I haven't heard their explanation for this so I cannot ascertain which defences will or will not be raised.
However a contested defamation action costs in excess of £20k and there is no legal aid and if they have printed an apology already then you are probably barking up the wrong tree I'm afraid. Unless you can show that you lost some profitable work as a result of this before they apologised it is a risk that you would not get any more at court than an offer to make amends which they have already done and you would incur costs.
Sorry if that is bad news.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69544
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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