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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50148
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I work in a GP surgery. One of the partners, a GP, has sent

screen messages to another member... Show More
screen messages to another member of staff accusing another one of the GP partners of being a 'crook', being 'dishonest' and 'untrustworthy' after he took 2 days off sick. There does not appear to be any reason to substantiate this point of view and the doctor that was off sick is in good standing at the surgery.
The doctor making the accusations was unaware that all screen messages can be read by anyone at the practice.
Is this slander? Or libel? And what action should the practice take?
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Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Is the GP who was the subject of the messages looking at taking action or just the practice? Please note that due to the time I am just going offline but will respond in full in the morning, thanks

It is preferable that the practice takes action on behalf of the doctor rather than the doctor individually. But either is possible

Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience. whilst this is indeed potential defamation (libel to be precise, it is not slander as that is only if the comments were verbal), it is not possible for the practice t take action on the doctor’s behalf in that respect. This is a personal claim, so only the person who was on the receiving end of the defamatory comments can pursue this. Also such claims are very expensive and complex and often people just jump at the chance of pursuing one without appreciating the full scale of what such a claim would involve. So this is for the individual to determine whether they want to pursue or not and they would have to do it themselves.

In terms of what the practice can do, then this will generally be limited to disciplinary action. As this happened in the workplace and involves others working there it would be an internal matter which can be dealt with through the practice’s own disciplinary process. You would be looking at investigating the allegations, inviting the person to a disciplinary hearing, presenting the evidence and allegations and giving them the chance to defend themselves, then eventually coming to a decision. The options are a warning or a dismissal, if you wanted to take some action. Dismissal is a rather serious outcome so should only be used as a last resort. For example if he did not deliberately share the comments with everyone else and this only happened because of how the system works but he was unaware of that, there was no malicious intent for him to do so and he should really just be issued with a warning and warned about his future conduct.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you


thanks. this is useful. So it seems that whilst this would technically be within the scope of libel (being written and the records preserved), it seems unlikely that any legal action would be advisable as the scope of the audience and the scope of malice is limited. The practice will be instigating disciplinary proceedings.


Just one bit of feedback for JustAnswer - since 23.07pm last night I have received an email every hour through the night asking for my feedback. Your reply only arruved at 10.22 am this morning. This level of emailing is unnecessary and intrusive

Ben Jones :

Thanks, ***** ***** and apologise, I have highlighted this on numerous occasions but it's all I can do - the powers that be are in the US and they have the final say on how the site works. It would be useful if you send your feedback directly to***@******.*** as it is useful to hear this directly from the customer