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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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My wife runs a dance school. A parent was asked to leave and

Customer Question

My wife runs a dance school. A parent was asked to leave and is now causing us problems. She has been writing all number of things on Facebook which she has since deleted. We have screenshots of all of it. She has accused us of bullying, punishing children, and even mentioned our 4 your old son and karma in the same breath. She has lied to other parents and online about my wife kicking out anyone who gets in contact with her (one of this woman's closest friends' child is still at the school). She emailed three days ago to demand _we_ take down posts (which don't exist) that defame her character. I have emailed three times to ask for clarification. Included in the email we questions about the posts she had made. I haven't had a response, yet we have received this morning another email, this time from her husband, demanding £500 in compensation for costumes, classes, and event costs, all but £150 are not justified, and which we have already said would be refunded. If we don't pay them in 14 days they will take us to court. We have been nothing but professional in how we have dealt with this troublesome parent. We desperately need some advice. Many thanks, Paul

UPDATE FOR CLARITY:

The reason she was asked to leave was because she set up, without consultation with my wife, a Facebook page which was to be a place where the parents could share their frustrations, talk about where to buy clothes, and to have constructive criticism about the school. We already have an official closed group for members and their parents, and we make it clear that if there are any issues then it needs to be dealt with privately, not gossip. She automatically added the other parents, many of whom had no interest in the group. We have testimonials to the fact.

A community support officer visited her to get her side of the story. She told him that she had apologised for the incident. The officer asked her to forward the apology but he never received it. This is because it was never made.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.
Hello Paul,
Sorry to hear about your problem.
What would you like to know about this issue please?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

We would like to know if she has any grounds for taking us to court on either the defamation of character point, or the compensation (the refunds are vastly over stated).

She had been asked three times to provide evidence of us defaming her, and has refused to comment.

If we have any grounds of our own to stop this woman we would like to know - she is deliberately saying things which can be detrimental to the business, while in the same breath saying that is what we are doing, when we haven't.

This is the original email I received from her:

------------------------------

Dear *****,

I write with reference to your postings on the JMP Facebook page.

Defamation can have extremely negative consequences in ways far beyond financial, defamation can cause a great deal of distress and emotional turmoil for the degraded party/parties.

I insist you immediately remove your posts which in anyway imply or allege anything but good character of myself and Holly McClure.

Holly McClure and myself are unable to access the JMP page and if we are not fully ensured this has taken place will seek legal advice and potentially claim for damages to compensate for the impact on our respective reputations.

Regards,

Mrs L Withers

------------------------------

This is my reply to her:

------------------------------

Lynette,

Please could you clarify which posts you are referirng to, as I have not defamed yourself or Holly McClure. Please could you also let me know who it is that told you I have. As you saw in the post I wrote on the JMP page congratulating the team, at no point did I even mention your name, so making allegations like this based on nothing but hearsay is itself a defamation of my own character, which you're ironically accusing me of. Yes, neither yourself nor Holly McClure are on the JMP page; Holly because she is neither a dancer or a parent, and yourself because you are no longer part of the school.

I'd also like to know how we have had an impact on your respective reputations.

While we're on the subject of defamation, perhaps I could remind you of the posts you have had on your Facebook page over the last week? If you are so mortified that someone might post something about you (which we didn't), maybe looking back at your Facebook posts may give you pause. Maybe you could then explain why you feel you are in a position to demand we remove something which does not exist, despite there being posts on your Facebook page openly discussing us, accusing us of bullying and punishing children, and talking about our son.

Why did you tell your Facebook friends that Jade would kick anyone out who spoke to you or the other parents who were asked to leave? This is simply not true as you well know. If you believe you have evidence to the contrary, sharing it would be the honest thing to do, not just state that it happened for everyone on your contacts to see - something you're accusing us of doing with no reason. Calling Jade a prima donna after what she pulled off with Disney sounds nothing but spiteful.

I understand you feel agrieved, but this behaviour does not benefit anyone.

Class Talent will be organising the refund of the London show for you.

I would be grateful if you could now stop the baseless threats of legal action, and refrain from talking about Jade, myself, and Charlie on your Facebook page.

Paul

----------------------------

And this is the text from my last email to her after she did not respond for a number of days:

----------------------------

Lynette,

I have paid this morning, using the bank details you sent me, £20 to cover any outstanding class costs. Costumes and props are non-refundable. As mentioned, Class Talent will be arranging payment for the London event.

I have not as yet had a response from my previous email sent on Wednesday:

- which posts are you claiming are defaming you
- who informed you that these posts exist
- how have we had an impact on your respective reputations
- why are you making/allowing allegations of us bullying and punishing children on your Facebook page
- why did you tell your Facebook friends that Jade would kick anyone out who spoke to you or the other parents who were asked to leave
- why do you feel it necessary to call Jade a prima donna
- what does "Well you saw Jade in action before, maybe I should have seen this coming." mean
- you claim it is unprofessional the way we have acted, yet we haven't shared anything you have written, or commented on what you have written or allowed to be posted on your Facebook page, nor demanded you remove them. You however, have posted screenshots of the message and email I wrote to you

As this is a serious matter I'd appreciate a response today.

Paul

----------------------------

This is the email we received from her husband this morning:

-----------------------------

Jade,

I am writing to advise you that I consider the £20 that you paid into our bank account yesterday derisory and insulting. You take a high handed inappropriate attitude in excluding Esmie because somehow the web site that Lynette set up compromises your inflated ego and now you attempt to extract profit from the situation.

To make things quite clear I will elaborate from my previous email as to what I consider you should compensate us:

Her Majesties Theatre tickets - £150
Sessions paid in advance but not taken - £51.25
Sessions paid for twice i.e. paid in advance and then paid again for Disney rehearsal - £28.50
Costume purchased for the performance planned at Her Majesties Theatre (not uniform) - £100
Costume purchased for 'Senior's' sessions which will be unused,as Esmie is excluded (and not supplied) - £50
JMP branded items that were used for the Disney Paris trip, that are no longer of any value - £50
This totals £429.75 less the £20 paid £409.75.

If the figure of £409.75 is not paid into our account within 14 days, I will take this matter to the court for decision.

Alec Withers (Guardian of Esmie James)

----------------------------------

If you'd like me to forward the screenshots of her Facebook page to see this person's character please let me know (she has since deleted them apparently).

Many thanks for helping with this,
Paul

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

Are you able to help?

Thanks,
Paul

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
The other expert has opted out.
Can we just try to summarise this so that it is clear. What is the defamation issue? Just a few sentences explaining will be fine. Please don't put yourself to detail.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

1) An aggrieved parent who was excluded from the school has made a false claim that we have defamed her and her friend by writing something on Facebook about them. This is not true, and despite 4 emails asking for clarification she has not given us the information, just made another threat - see below.

2) She has further threatened legal action for compensation for certain costs associated with being excluded from the school. Some of these are valid that we already said we would refund.

3) She has made accusations on her Facebook group accusing us of bullying, punishing children, calling my wife a Prima Donna, and mentioning that we have a four year old school who would be starting school soon, and saying karma (this is one of the reasons the police paid her a visit).

4) She told remaining parents that if they talked to her that they would be kicked out. This is an outright lie.

5) She told the police officer who visited her to ask her why she was saying all of these things - she brushed him off. She also told him that she had apologised. He asked her to send a copy of the apology, but she didn't. She can't - she never made an apology.

Does she have any grounds for making these claims? Have she put herself in a position where she can be countersued? We have copies of everything she wrote, which she has since deleted.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
What are you said to have written on Facebook?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That's what I've asked her repeatedly to tell us:

Dear *****,

I write with reference to your postings on the JMP Facebook page.

Defamation can have extremely negative consequences in ways far beyond financial, defamation can cause a great deal of distress and emotional turmoil for the degraded party/parties.

I insist you immediately remove your posts which in anyway imply or allege anything but good character of myself and Holly McClure.

Holly McClure and myself are unable to access the JMP page and if we are not fully ensured this has taken place will seek legal advice and potentially claim for damages to compensate for the impact on our respective reputations.

Regards,

Mrs L Withers

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

She has actually been spreading gossip about my wife which could be detrimental to the business, yet she somehow is allowed to do what she is claiming we have done.

This is the threat of legal action we received at the weekend. None of the figures they quote are correct. We would be willing to refund, on top of the London trip (which we've already said we'd refund) the costumes for that trip, but we want an apology in writing, and see it on her Facebook page so that anyone she has lied to can see:

----------------------------------------------------

Jade,
I am writing to advise you that I consider the £20 that you paid into our bank account yesterday derisory and insulting. You take a high handed inappropriate attitude in excluding Esmie because somehow the web site that Lynette set up compromises your inflated ego and now you attempt to extract profit from the situation.
To make things quite clear I will elaborate from my previous email as to what I consider you should compensate us:
  1. Her Majesties Theatre tickets - £150
  2. Sessions paid in advance but not taken - £51.25
  3. Sessions paid for twice i.e. paid in advance and then paid again for Disney rehearsal - £28.50
  4. Costume purchased for the performance planned at Her Majesties Theatre (not uniform) - £100
  5. Costume purchased for 'Senior's' sessions which will be unused,as Esmie is excluded (and not supplied) - £50
  6. JMP branded items that were used for the Disney Paris trip, that are no longer of any value - £50
This totals £429.75 less the £20 paid £409.75.
If the figure of £409.75 is not paid into our account within 14 days, I will take this matter to the court for decision.
Alec Withers (Guardian of Esmie James)
----------------------------------------------------
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
So, in short, you don't know ?
And you don't accept saying anything on Facebook?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That's correct. We've written absolutely nothing about her.

We did mention her friend's name but only in the context of saying to the closed group that someone called Holly McClure tried to post something on the public page. We didn't at that point know who she was, but it had been assumed that she was a friend of one of the parents called Holly. We stated on the page that it was a mistake, and it wasn't the friend but someone else called Holly (McClure). We didn't say what was in the message. It turns out that Holly McClure is the friend of the woman making the allegations against and about us.

The message could have been damaging had we not set the group to be moderated, so no posts can be made live without us approving them.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Ok.
Are you confident that nobody else is posting on your page?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Yes - we have moderator set up on the closed parent/dancer group too.

We're over cautious at the moment to check all comments too.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Then there isn't a defamation point. Defamation is a fairly high test anyway. You have to say something that causes serious damage to a person's repuation. Saying something that causes mild offence is not sufficient.
If there was nothing there then there is no defamation.
In relation to the refunds, I have absolutely no idea on what basis she claims these. If you have excluded her child then you are liable for the amounts paid for subsequent lessons but you are not liable for anything else. I have no idea on what basis she thinks you are liable for anything else.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

As we have documented evidence that she has actually been the one lying about us, trying to damage my wife's re[uttion, where do we stand with this?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
It depends really on exactly what she is doing.
Defamation actions are not usually worth the cost though. If she is on a harassment warning already then there should be no need to do anything else.
You could get a solicitor to write to her with a cease and desist letter. That is often very effective.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70204
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Is there anything else you wanted to know?
I will be happy to continue to assist. I would be grateful if you would provide some feedback on my service to date. I will happily assist without further charge.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Jo,

We thought we'd heard the last of this woman but unfortunately not.

She wrote a letter - we don't know how she got our home address - which was very unpleasant.

I read on Citizens Advice Bureau site that harassment is defined as something which a person has done at least twice, which has caused distress or alarm.

Her behaviour is affecting my wife's health, and she doesn't feel comfortable going to the local town because she doesn't know what else this woman has told people she knows.

Please could you give us any advice as to how we can stop this woman? What would the cease and desist letter actually do? Would it become a criminal matter if she continued?

Thanks,

Paul

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
What sort of thing is she saying?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I have attached photos of it.

She is yet again twisting the situation to make it appear that my wife is punishing her grandchild.

Also, the first email threatening legal action was sent on a Saturday morning, after having ignored us for over a week. This letter was written and timed so we also received it on a Saturday. She is clearly doing this to try to ruin our weekends.

Jade has spoken to the IDTA (International Dance Teachers Association) and has told them everything. They not only feel that she was well within her right to ask this person to leave, but that Jade is not even obliged to give a reason.

This must now be harassment?

Thanks,

Paul

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, it is just nonsense.
I think you could argue it amounts to harassment. if she is on a warning then just report this to the police.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi again Jo.

My wife has just rung me distraught saying that this woman has now contacted one of the schools she teaches at, insinuating she isn't covered to teach, that she doesn't follow health and safety regulations, etc etc.

I have already emailed the PCSO who dealt with this but he has not responded to my emails.

What else do you suggest? Is this latest nonsense more grounds for harassment?

My wife is going to have a breakdown if this woman continues.

Luckily, the lady who deals with bookings at the school, when she read the email, thought she was receiving an email from someone psychotic and has offered to give Jade a character reference as she knows Jade is a good customer and is a stickler for following every regulation and safety protocol.

Thanks,

Paul

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
I presume what she said was untrue?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Absolutely. Jade is heavily insured, is CRB checked, and is first aid trained.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
If she is making allegations of this nature to third parties then I do think it amounts to harassment.
If the police won't act then you could consider suing in harassment. At least a letter before action should be considered. She may not stop. Letters before action are very effective quite often.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks Jo,

Apparently the PCSO is on leave. Jade has spoken to the police and it has been escalated to a more serious level.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
This shouldn't be allocated to a PCSO anyway. This is proper harassment. It might not have been originally but it is now.
The sad thing is that if you phoned the police to complain that your wife breathed on you they would be around mob handed to arrest her for assault but real proper crime like this is apparently not important enough to attract the attention of a proper officer.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

What is disturbing is that this woman owns a children's nursery in the area.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, that is not particularly surprising.
Vexatious accusers don't wear uniforms. They can often be quite professional people.
I do think that generally speaking it is more prevalent in women than in men but otherwise it is something that runs right through society.

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