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:
lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally;
disparage a claimant in his business, trade, office or profession;
expose the claimant to hatred, ridicule or contempt; or
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.
I would start with the solicitors “cease and desist” letter.
I don’t know whether getting rid of the daughter is an option although that may inflame the situation. The mother is always at liberty to take her daughter somewhere else.
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