You may have a cause of action in Defamation against the author of the statement.
You must issue court proceedings within one year of the statement first being published.
For a claimant to succeed in a Defamation Claim, the following conditions must be met:
1. The statement in question must be a false statement of fact;
2. The statement must be negative and derogatory to the extent that it is capable of lowering the claimant’s standing in the opinion of right-thinking members of society;
3. The statement in question identifies or refers to the claimant;
4. The statement in question was published to a third party;
5. The statement must be capable of causing the subject “serious harm” if allowed to stand.
There is no cause of action that sounds in damages in English civil law if another person simply lies to you, even if the lies are repeated and sustained over a long period of time. The lies must be tantamount to an attempt to defame or defraud you to the extent that they have caused you, or are capable of causing you, financial loss or serious reputational damage.
I suggest that you instruct specialist reputation management solicitors to send a letter of claim to the author of the statement and have them sign an express written undertaking not to repeat the comments as well as providing you with an express written apology, retraction and correction.
The Defamation Act 2013 introduced the “Serious Harm” test in Court Proceedings for Libel and Defamation Claims. Part of the rationale behind the reform in the law was to stop the High Court in London being the “Libel Tourism Capital of the World” and to prevent costly Court Claims for trivial and petty insults.
If the Claimant is an individual, the Court will consider whether the words complained of are likely to cause a “right thinking member of society” to lower their opinion substantially of the Claimant following sight of the words complained of. Therefore, a statement alleging that the Claimant was a murderer, a thief or a child abuser would meet the “Serious Harm” test as an outsider reading or hearing these words would almost certainly think less of the Claimant after reading them.
If the Claimant is a business, the Court will consider whether words complained of would be capable of persuading the Claimant’s existing clients and customers to withdraw their business and seek the goods or services elsewhere, while dissuading prospective clients and customers from doing business with the Claimant. A statement that alleged that the Claimant was incompetent or dishonest would probably meet the “Serious Harm” test.
In the early 1990s, the actor William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow on the long-running ITV soap opera “Coronation Street”, sued The Sun Newspaper who published a piece calling him “boring” and alleging that the rest of the show’s cast did not like him. Roache won his libel action and was awarded tens of thousands of pounds in damages by the Court. However, such a Defamation Claim is unlikely to satisfy the “Serious Harm” test of the Defamation Act 2013 as the words Roache complained of are unlikely to cause him financial loss as an actor and businessman, nor are they to adversely affect other people’s view of him.