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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10399
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I need help defending a defamation of Character claim. We

Customer Question

I need help defending a defamation of Character claim. We need to reply to a letter sent by a solicitor over comments my partner made on Facebook - which are entirely true and provable by public records and witness statements.
We are having great difficulty finding a so,icitor who will deal with this.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Thank you for your question - can you explain the details of what has gone on please?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
My partner placed comments on Facebook concerning the previous chair of the Parish Council and his financial mismanagement which led to the Council being fined by HMRC. This is all provable with publially available documentation and a statement from the Parish Clerk.
I took over from him as chair, and with my clerk negotiated the fine down to 25% of the original, but as it's public money, we had to tell the public. From this point, the old chair has spent over four years making my life a living hell.
He has made a series of complaints to various bodies including the police. Wiltshire council deemed him as malicious and vexatious in a reply to a series of complaints - which was backed up when he appealed it. He then reported me to the school where I am governor on the same matter - and no case was found to answer at all four stages including the hearing he insisted on. He then took that to the government who threw it out. He reported me to the police for a public order offence which simply didnt occur - for which I was interviewed under caution. The police took just under three hours to come back with no further action. He continually reports me to the police for the stupidest little things - the latest being that I'd pushed the 'follow' button on his twitter account. He had me issued with a HIN by Wiltshire police for a series of events which didn't happen. I think they did it to shut him up, but it didn't. A HIN has no legal or statutory standing. I have not been charged or found guilty, but simply made aware that allegations have been made. He then spent the following few years placing comments on his twitter feed about me getting it, despite the confidentiality clause on the paperwork - in addition to making constant sneaky offensive gestures and comments himself
This is all relevant as my partner made further comments on the same post that he had been harassing me overy that time. He is now trying to deny this - although I have screen shots of his comments.
At the last parish council meeting in May, an apology was demanded but refused. One of his friends then started handing out copies of the Facebook post to members of the public present. He appears to have lied to his solicitor about what was said and done at the public meeting - which we have witness statements proving.
My partner now has a solicitors letter threatening to sue for injury to feelings and reputation all harm.
It's a complete joke and we need someone to look over our evidence and send a letter back to end this quickly.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Are you able to attach the letter please? Thanks

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
The best I can do is to scan it in athe work and send as a file so you'll have it first thing tomorrow morning
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

That’s fine.

I’m not familiar with HIN, do you mean a harassment warning notice?

If so, it is of no legal effect itself other to warn a person that it whatever conduct there is carries on, they will be prosecuted without further notice.

At this stage, I think you’ve got a bigger complaint about the perpetrator for harassment than he has against you.

Incidentally, when you’re partner posted the notice on Facebook what was he/she hoping to achieve?

If it was your partner that posted the comments, why has your life been made a living hell and why have you not previously applied to court for an injunction or complain to the police about his conduct rather than having him do it the other way round?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
We tried to let it go in the hope he would get fed up and go away. LIving in a small village, we tried not to get into a neighbour dispute, which could have had the effect of dividing get a small community.
He stood for and got back in as a parish councillor again in May. My partner was trying to show he was not fit for office given his previous tenure, and his conduct towards me over the last four years. She has sat and seen the effect this has had on me in that time. There was a point where I had seen a doctor about depression, it had got to me that much. I had several sessions of counselling, and my partner tells me I wasn't nice to be around at the time. I'm no medical expert, however if you look up the definition of sociopath - that is this guy to the letter.
His actions towards me were as a result of the public statement made about the fine that HMRC imposed due to his mismanagement. It made him look bad in front of the public he believed admired him. He has never stopped coming at me since that point. My partner believes she was protecting and defending me by putting the truth out there. I think it was in the public interest given the fine came out of public money.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Thank you.

As soon as you let me have the solicitors letter scanning, I will be able to go a little further with this. We can then formulate a reply to the solicitors.

Meanwhile, please confirm that the post has been removed.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Are you telling us the post needs to be removed immediately?
Please find documents attached
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
In addition, and contrary to what is in the letter, Kathy never repeated the statement at the meeting. What did happen was one of this man's friends at the meeting stood up and stated, 'If anybody hasn't seen this, I've got copies here' and then proceed to hand them out; Mr. Mansell made no attempt to stop this.
All Kathy said was, 'I've got evidence'. At no point did she say she had police evidence. We have a number of people providing witness statements to that effect as well.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Also, they brought the whole subject up at a public meeting, rather than privately. They continued to try and discuss it despite being told this wasn't a matter for the Parish council to comment on.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 10 months ago.

Thank you.

My advice to you would be to remove the statement and to tell the solicitors that you have done so.

You can issue a failed apology (not a public one, purely to the solicitor) saying you’re sorry he is offended.

Sometimes, extremely brief replies

It would be brief words along the lines of “thank you for your letter of the 5th of June, the contents of which are noted.

I confirm that I have removed the statement and I formally apologise if you’re client has been offended thereby.

As far as I’m concerned this now closes the matter.

Please confirm.

Yours sincerely”

It depends whether you want to risk going to court. I appreciate you stand by everything that you have said but there is never a guaranteed outcome in court and both parties go to court having been told by their solicitors they have a good chance of success but nonetheless one of them loses.

It also depends on how much money he has to take the matter to court although if he wins and proves his case, he could get those costs awarded against you and vice versa if you win. That could easily run into tens of thousands of pounds in legal costs alone and probably several times that in damages improve defamation.

Alternatively, you can reply to each of the points you make (I have not scoured your documentation in detail because that would take a couple of hours to formulate a complete reply.

I would be happy to look at any letter that you want to send but if you do want to uphold what you say and stand by it, you need to be prepared to go to court and pay the costs if you lose.

If you are going down that line, you need to reply to each point they make and admitting or denying what was said putting them to strict proof of anything which they allege was said but which actually is incorrect.

It’s worthwhile mentioning that at this stage, by the time instructions had been taken and the complete facts had been taken down by the solicitor and this letter has been put together, I don’t think he will have had much change out of £600 or £700. Now that might be as far as he wants to go financially but he’s already made a considerable outlay so you need to bear that in mind.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. Then press Submit. Thank you. If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.