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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 18311
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My late partner passed away in septemer 2019 and is family

Customer Question

Hello, my late partner passed away in septemer 2019 and is family have threatened to submit false information about me to the coroner and I need some help to stop this or get it removed
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Yorkshire, UK
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Nothing this is my first step
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The family has posted false allegations online about me and the death is looking to be suicide
JA: I'm sorry if I'm reading you wrong here, but it seems as though you might be considering committing suicide or hurting yourself. Am I right?
Customer: No my late partner committed suicide
Submitted: 11 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 days ago.

Welcome to Just Answer.

I will be happy to assist with your question today. I need some time to consider this and compose a response. There is NO need to wait online because you will get an email when I respond. Sometimes it will be minutes, sometimes longer.

I apologise for any unavoidable delay, but rest assured I have not forgotten your question.

what are they threatening?

and why?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
They blame me for my late partners suicide and have posted online saying I have stopped his friends from seeing him the day he died and have said they are submitting texts to prove this but I didn't send any texts
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 days ago.

These comments are defamatory.

Derogatory comments made to a 3rd party may be libellous and/or slanderous allegations. Slander is spo***** *****bel is written

A claimant has to prove that the words are defamatory, that the words would be understood to refer to the complainant by even one other person; and that the words have been published to a third party.

Comments made directly to a person about them to their face or a letter written to them, isn’t published or spoken to a 3rd party so cannot be defamatory however bad or untrue it might be. It might be harassment however if it continues

A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed. A slander claimant will need to prove that the defamatory allegations caused actual damage, unless the slander is within certain categories.

There is no set definition of 'defamatory'. A statement may be considered to be defamatory if it tends to do any one of the following:

{C}· lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally;

{C}· disparage a claimant in his business, trade, office or profession;

{C}· expose the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt; or

{C}· cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

Of course fair opinion is not Libel or Slander. So, if I say that "In my opinion ABC is not as good an athlete as XYZ", that is not slander, it is an opinion.

Speaking/writing truth even if defamatory, is not slander/libel but the "offender" may have to prove it true , the recipient does not have to prove it untrue.

BUT a person cannot hide behind “In my opinion”,. So you can’t say “In my opinion he is a thief and a liar with 27 failed marriages behind him”. It must be fair opinion with some kind of basis for the opinion.

The claimant can get a solicitor to write (better coming from a solicitor) to the offender refuting these allegations and advising them that unless these allegation cease forthwith, (cease a desist) and there is a retraction/apology you will make an application to court for an injunction preventing them making any such allegations in future. If they do make any they will be in contempt of court and liable to arrest. The solicitor should threaten to seek the costs of the court proceedings from them. They should also threaten to apply for damages in respect of tarnished reputation.

Let me tell you now that defamation claims are the preserve of the rich, famous, television and film personalities and footballers. They're very expensive and only dealt with by specialist lawyers. That's not to say that a snotty letter from your local solicitor will not have the desired effect and if the person simply ignores it you are faced with risking a lot of money.

There is a limitation period of 12 months from when the defamation occurs, after which time a defendant can raise limitation as a defence to have the claim thrown out.

If a complainant does not want to spend £lots, there is little one can do other than complain or write a solicitors really snotty letter threatening an application for an injunction and costs. BUT…

There is one final thing that can be done: Go to the Police and ask them to warn the person under the Protection from Harassment Act.

This is harassment if there are allegations on 2 separate occasions and it is a criminal offence. Some Police forces dismiss this so you may need to be firm. If necessary, ask to speak to high ranking officer. If they still do nothing, make a formal complaint. Police are under a duty to stop you being harassed.

Hopefully, the allegations will stop. (if they have not stopped already) Usually, there is some history which has prompted this.

BEWARE that whatever actually you take may inflame the situation.

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

That only applies to new threads, not this one. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
The most recent post was last night however ones before that were just a little over a year but could they still be used as I didn't share them due to the fear of them and going through serious mental health problems myself. Also what can I do to get the "evidence" thrown out if it is submitted
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 days ago.

In respect of the old ones, you have gone past the time limit on defamation claims and you will be out of town for some of them but not all of them.

You don’t get their evidence thrown out, you prove that what they have said is untrue and it is for them to try and submit that it is true.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Can I submit everything still so it is on record? Would I be best to get a local solicitor for all this then?
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
What time of law is this too?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 11 days ago.

It’s a breach of the Defamation Act.

It’s a civil litigation solicitor that you need and preferably one who deals with defamation. Initially, it would be an application to court for an injunction to compel them to remove the offending posts.

Incidentally, it’s also harassment.

Harassment is defined as a course of action (more than once) which is intended to harass, does harass, is reckless as to whether it harasses, or if the average bystander would look at the conduct and think that it was indeed harassment.

Harassment is both a civil matter and a criminal matter.

If a person is being harassed they should go to the police and ask them to warn the alleged offender under the Protection from Harassment Act. Some police forces take that very seriously and others not so and therefore, a person may need to speak to a senior officer or put a complaint in writing to the Chief Constable.

At least the police are free. So you might want to try that first.