Many thanks for your patience. The first thing you need to consider is whether the offer of the new job was conditional on anything, such as satisfactory references. If it was, then they can potentially revoke the offer if a satisfactory reference has not been obtained. In that event the rights will mainly shift against the old employer and I will discuss that below. However, if the offer was not conditional on anything, the new employer could be acting in breach of contract if they now revoke the offer of employment so she can potentially hold them in breach of contract.
In terms of what the old employer has done that can amount to negligence and/or defamation. In terms of negligence, whilst there is no legal obligation on employers to provide a reference for past employees, if they choose to do so they will automatically owe them a duty to take reasonable care in its preparation. This requires the employer to be accurate in the contents of the reference and ensure it is based on facts, rather than just personal opinion.
So if it is obvious that incorrect facts have been relied on, the contents are false or misleading, there may be a potential case for negligence against the employer and this matter could be taken further by seeking compensation in the county court for any damages caused.
On the other hand, defamation is when a false statement is made about someone although this is a lot more expensive and difficult to pursue so whilst you can use it as a threat to make them retract their statement, I would not recommend it is pursued formally in court.
This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the options you have I terms of legal action for negligence and how to pursue this, 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