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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Hello, I would just like to ask you a question regarding the

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Hello, I would just like to ask you a question regarding the best way to proceed with a slanderous statement. I have within the last year retired from the Health Service.I worked in a diabetic unit at a hospital as a podiatrist. I had worked in the service for 30 yrs and had an excellent reputation with both patients and the consultants and doctors with whom I worked. I left the service due to management changes which impacted on the standard of clinical care which I was able to provide.I phoned a colleague socially this evening who informed me that a statement had been made by the two clinicians who have taken over my role that I had been having an affair with a married consultant diabetologist. One of them has made a point of repeating this back to my former manager as " she thought he should know" it would seem. The "information" was imparted to a junior member of staff who has let me know what has been said.The consultant concerned still holds this senior clinical role at the unit. Needless to say this is all grossly untrue, I am happily living with a long standing partner and the highly respected consultant concerned ( much younger than me!) is married with a family. I have now started a private practice which I am trying to establish in my local town some miles away from the hospital .However I am appalled by what I have heard tonight . It has upset me greatly and that is why I am still up at this hour. What should I do? I intend to contact the consultant concerned as soon as I am able. He will be furious I am sure. The women concerned have no evidence - because there is none- and both our reputations are at stake. Thanks

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What have the implications of this been to you?


Hello, thank you for your reply,I suppose the implications are that my professional reputation could be damaged by the remarks. I spoke to the doctor concerned today and he was also appalled and is planning on looking at the GMC guidelines relating to this as he feels they are being thoroughly unprofessional and spreading rumour which similarly could bring our morals into question. Bearing in mind the stringency these days of professional conduct relating to all medical professionals. Basically it could bring both our "fitness to practice" into question.

Ben Jones :

Are you still going to work in the industry though, for example is there a potential implication on future employment?


As I said in my first e mail, I have left the health service but I am still working as a podiatrist in a private setting. We are a small community professionally and I will inevitably come into contact with other colleagues whith whom I have worked periodically - cpd etc. However any slur on my professional conduct could cause HCPC involvement and potential damage.

Ben Jones :

ok thanks, XXXXX XXXXX to confirm this, I will get my response ready and get back to you on here shortly



Ben Jones :

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.


Thank you for your considered response

Ben Jones :

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