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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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I am a magazine publisher and, in one of the articles after

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I am a magazine publisher and, in one of the articles after it had gone to press, the web address was not shown correctly but instead shown as This was because the editor who was preparing the article decided to show it like this until she had established the correct web address. Unfortunately this was missed and it went to press. A genuine and rare error.
A reader has now complained and is threatening us:
Thank you for your e mail of 7th Sept 15 and I apologise for the late reply as I have been away on business.
Whilst I appreciate your apology, the fact remains that the damage has somewhat already been done by the acute embarrassment that this has caused, together with a potential virus or such like to my personal computer.
My complaint wasn't motivated by any potential financial recompense, though, as I'm sure you'll appreciate with the advent of social media and the like, had I chosen to go public with this, then we would both be looking at an entirely different situation now, one which at the very least would have been exceedingly damaging to both your publication, notwithstanding your personal position within it.
At this stage, I am perfectly happy for this to remain confidential between ourselves, but please appreciate that had I chosen to, or indeed subsequently choose to, release this to the media, then I'm confident that it would be a very sought after and lucrative story.
I remain extremely uncomfortable with this whole situation and do not intend quantifying to you any level of redress or compensation.
However, given that I am currently in a position to save your publication an enormous amount of bad publicity, you perhaps will consider a suitable amount and advise me of same. Should I consider your response to be fair and reasonable, given the circumstances, then I will confirm acceptance of same in writing and guarantee confidentiality of our agreement.
I await your favourable response.
Yours Sincerely,
Victoria Dale"
We are satisfied that such an error would not have caused damage and said so and this person is clearly trying to elicit money from us. The web address in question was clearly not the intended one but this person is trying to take advantage of this genuine error.
How do we stand legally with such a threat? Is the person's "Without prejudice" valid?
Thank you for your question and welcome.
My name is ***** ***** I will assist you.
What damage would actually be caused to you if the error was made public?
This is essentially blackmail - demanding money from you when they have not actually suffered any loss or damage.
The without prejudice part only means that if she sued you in court, she would not be able to disclose this letter to court as evidence until the issue of costs was decided.
By going to the site that was actually published what would have happened? Could she have actually got a virus?
Kind regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
If this goes public, for example reported as a simple error on social media then it would have very little impact on us. Publishing errors happen all the time in all magazines. But if blown up put of proportion buy emphasising how much it deeply upset her and how it might have caused a damaging virus, how unprofessional such a mistake is, and so on, then it might cause us some damage.I cannot see how this can cause her any damage. She has claimed that she went to the web site in question with her daughter sitting alongside and this greatly upset her. It would be obvious to me and any reasonable person that such an address was printed in error. In fact the page goes to an adult site with very little on it apart from links to other adult sites. There is no evidence that visiting this page would caused a virus.
Thank you.
If you evaluate the risk of this, does this lady have some captive audience? If this has not actually caused her any harm, who is going to listen to her or take her seriously?
Legally speaking if she has not suffered any damage there is no obligation on you to legally compensate her. That fact that she is asking you to pay her in exchange for her silence is bordering on blackmail.
Is there any other gesture you can make to her that does not involve money that may call her bluff? For example send her a voucher associated with your business or magazine?
Kind regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I do not know who the lady is aside from being a reader of the magazine. She gives no address or contact details apart from her email.I suppose the danger is that she might claim that she has a virus, though could not prove it. She can also claim that she was personally very upset through visiting the site. Can this be construed as 'damage'?The editor has tried to be reasonable and conciliatory but the lady will obviously not be satisfied unless offered some sum of money in exchange for her silence (in exchange for some written guarantee of the same). This has upset the editor to such an extent that she has offered her resignation, which I have declined.I would like to respond to the lady to draw a line under this but would like advice about how best to do this. If, for example, she carries out her threat and makes disproportionate damaging remarks throughout social media, is there anything we can do about this?
Thank you.
Personal upset is not a grounds to claim damage.
If she makes disproportionate disparaging remarks (i.e remarks that just are not true), you could sue her for defamation.
If you have apologised, personally I would be of the opinion that you should not correspond with this person any further. They are trying to get you to pay money for no good reason.
If you have to respond at all, I would say that you reiterate your apology, but what you have published is not offensive, defamatory or obscene as it is just a misspelled website link. You have checked the site yourself and do not believe it contains any viruses. Say that you therefore consider the matter closed.
If she then still goes and bad mouths the magazine, you could potentially sue her for defamation.
Kind regards
Alex J. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for your advice.