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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71039
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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A grand parent of my girlfriend , has been telling anyone who

Customer Question

A grand parent of my girlfriend , has been telling anyone who will listen including social services that I've been verbally and physically assaulting her grandson ! Completely untrue !! Just an exaggeration of an attempt to take her grandson to his biological fathers on his mothers request!! The accusation has been backed by her ex son inlaw!! The boys biological father!!Who incidentally didn't feel the need to even call the other 3 children including a 10 yr old to check there situation!
As this is so ridicules I'm thinking of suing!! As feel mud sticks etc!!
Many thanks!!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
My position in law regards the allegations !! As feel suing or treat of suing only option to stop the spread of these allegations!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Are social services investigating you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Girlfriend spoke to them Thursday after there reporting of me Wednesday but still nothing from social services regards visit or phone call !! So not sure of any investigation ?? Sorry I can't be more helpful!!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Thanks for that.

These comments may be defamatory. Obviously you will have to prove that they are untrue which is always very difficult to do. It one thing to prove an allegation has been disbelieved and another to show that it cannot be true.

You have to prove that the words are defamatory, that they would be understood to refer to you and that they have been published to a 3rd party.

Comments made directly to a person about themselves are not published and so cannot be defamatory however bad or untrue they are. If such contact were to continue it might amount to harassment.

There is no set definition of defamation. A statement is likely to be considered defamatory if it tends to do anyone of the following.

1 lower the claimant in the estimation of right minded members of society

2 disparage the claimant in his business, trade, office or profession

3 expose the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt or

4 cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided

An opinion, however, is not generally defamatory. People are entitled to an opinion under the human rights act and, indeed, under the common law generally. However, a person cannot hide behind the argument that a defamatory comment is just an opinion. For instance, if the person were to say “in my opinion, X is a liar with 15 convictions for theft" then that would be defamatory unless it were true. The opinion must be fair with some basis for it. It must be shown that it was a reasonable comments in all the circumstances.

Similarly, foul abuse is not defamatory although there might be other actions open to an aggrieved person.

Truth is a defence to defamation. The defendant would have to prove that it was the truth and that is reasonably hard to do so this defence is not often relied upon.

The real difficulty with defamation actions though is that they are very expensive. Unfortunately they are the domain of the very rich. That is not to say that you couldn't send a letter from a local solicitor for reasonable cost warning this person of the laws of libel and slander.

Also, you may want to consider other alternatives. This may amount to harassment which you can report to the police or sue at the civil courts much more economically. It might also be a malicious communication and you can report that to the police.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need any more information.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Probably should have mentioned his mother witnessed the alleged assault !! And has told both the father and the grand mother that's its a false allegation!! Fallen on deaf ears as both have personal ill feeling towards me!!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Yes, it will. They will be saying that she is biased in your favour.

Its not likely to stop social services investigating of itself that she denies the allegation. Obviously they may conclude that its without merit but they will probably still investigate.

In fairness, they will be investigating her as much as you really as the issue is whether she is allowing the children to be around a person who is a danger.

People do make false allegations to social services all the time.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Could I just clarify....I could probably sue but unless wealthy ,I probably couldn't afford it?? Unless press charges through the police and civil court!?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
You can sue if you can prove the comment is false which you probably cannot unfortunately. Thats why people make allegations of this nature.

It matters not really though because defamation isn't an accessible action to most people.

The police are not likely to be interested in this in practice. Even though there is caselaw that says that making false allegations and reports can amount to harassment I know that the police do not generally accept that it is.

A better option is to consider suing in harassment although you will have to show more than one allegation - but you say that you can. You would still have to prove the comment was untrue but the costs risks are a lot lower.