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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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My wife and myself work as club stewards running a bar in a

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My wife and myself work as club stewards running a bar in a private members club, we have done this work for several employers over 20 years and have references from all our previous employers, we have been working at Chatteris wmc in cambs since April 2015 everything was fine until about Christmas 2015 when for no apparent reason one of the management committee started making complaints about my wife and myself staring at committe meetings we were taking drinks without paying for them, I made an official complaint in writing to the committe asking them to put a stop to the false allegations or we would seek legal advise, this week the same person on the committee made allegations we were giving drinks to the Vice President of the club without him paying for them, the Vice President has made an appointment to seek legal advise and told us we should also, can you advise the best course of action please Yours Customer
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello has your employment been continuous, I.e. Have you transferred under TUPE for example?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No our employment has been for individual private members clubs, conservative club, Royal British Legion Club and working men's club, but this liable / slander is from just one member of the management committee, the secretary has told me he his more than willing to write a letter confirming there is no problem with stock results that are done by professional stock takers, also the president and all other commuter members are more than happy with us, also due to the latest letter to the committee the Vice President is seeking legal advise about slander about him
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
This same member of the committee has previously made allegations of theft against the president ladies section, bar staff, my wife and myself and now the Vice President
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The stock reports since January this year to date show a surplus on the bar of £600
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello sorry I was offline by the time you had replied. In the first instance this can be dealt with as an internal complaint, which by the looks of it you are already pursuing. This would basically prompt the organisation to look into it and to consider what the best course of action is, such as disciplining the person making the comments.

In terms of the more formal legal position, 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.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the options you have should you decide to take it further as a defamation issue, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. If you are considering defamation claim then this needs to be submitted in the High Court. As mentioned it is a complex matter so ideally you need to seek the professional advice of a solicitor, who ideally would have knowledge in this area. Saying that there is nothing stopping you from making the claim yourself and without legal representation. It needs to be done within a year of the defamatory statements being made and it is issued by submitting form N1 available here:

http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/GetForm.do?court_forms_id=338

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