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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 73901
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Would you be able to answer a question. My boss has been

Customer Question

Good morning, would you be able to answer a question. My boss has been accused in an employment tribunal case by a previous employee of grooming her. I have worked closely with my boss for the last 12 years and there has never been any suggestion of such abhorrent behaviour. This is a totally false allegation is this a case of defamation as she is not providing any evidence to support this claim
JA: Have you discussed the accusation with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: No it only came to light yesterday and the ET hearing is tomorrow. She made the allegation in her witness statement. I believe this to be a very inflammatory and dangerous thing to say
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am employee who is collating all the documentation
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: THere is so much to this but I am really concerned for my boss and need to know if we can ask the judge to make clear to the claimant how serious such an allegation is. My boss is a devoted family man who has treated all staff with such kindness and generosity over the years
Submitted: 17 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

What exactly is this former employee claiming? Please provide some more details of this. Also, how long had she worked there for and when did she leave?

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
Outline: My bosses had got a car for the business she was going to be the main user as she would be attending sites etc and did not have a car. (i would point out the in previous years my boss had got a car for and the arrangement was that when i was in position to either buy or return the car i should do that. I did about about 2 years later i was in position to buy my own car. If i left the company i was to either return the vehicle or pay the cost price back. Nothing was in writing it was all done on trust. And i did return the car. ) this same arrangement was offered to this employee who i must point worked with us 2 years ago and then left but returned in july 2019. When she abruptly left after an outburst and refusal to carry out business tasks she did not return the car which she had written off 6 weeks after getting it she was the driver at fault. She had received £650 in insurance payout but boss had told her to hang onto it for a new car as one was still needed. Unfortunately she was clearly not honourable and left so my boss deducted the £500 cost of vehicle from her outstanding Wages. This is something the ET is about and i understand that he is unlikely to win this. We are not concerned as much about that but are gravely concerned about the allegation of grooming she has put in her witness statement which is totally unfounded. She has noted this in writing and should she share this allegation it could be extremely damaging to our company and my boss. What can he do
Customer: replied 17 days ago.
I have an zoom meeting in half an hour and was just trying to quickly glean some info on his position before that. so regrettably my time is limited today
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 17 days ago.
She worked there for 6 months was claiming unfair dismissal but judge threw that out due to only being with us for 6 months. She started in july 19 and left on jan 24th 2021. after being asked to provide the boss with info for a meeting her response was "i am not wasting my time doing that". Clearly my boss was upset but said as i employ you i have the right to ask you to carry out all and any work related task within your job description. She started shouting and swearing at staff.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. Whilst this may appear to be a potential case of defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are rather difficult to pursue. Many people are keen on suing for defamation without having full appreciation of the law or practicalities of doing so. I will try and clarify the position below to give you a better understanding and cover some of these practicalities.

First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:

1. There has to be a defamatory statement - the assessment that is often used to establish this is whether the statement tends to lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally

2. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant – this will vary based on what effect it will have but it really has to be something sufficiently serious

3. The statement has been published by the defendant to a third party

4. The claimant must prove that the words complained of were published about them - this should not be an issue if the claimant is named or clearly identified.

Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has taken place, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is often complex and prohibitively expensive. A claim must be made in the High Court and will likely require the help of professional defamation lawyers, so the costs will often be high right from the outset, usually in the thousands. There is also no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally.

You must also consider whether the publisher of the statement can potentially defend the claim. For example, this can happen by proving the statement was true or an honest opinion which could have been made based on the available facts.

Instead of starting legal proceedings it would be best to contact the publisher of the comment, advise them that what they have done amounts to defamation and that you will consider pursuing the matter further if they do not retract their statement and issue an apology. A solicitor can also be instructed to write such a letter, although here will be costs involved and it does not always make a huge difference. Either option could prompt the publisher to reconsider their position, which would avoid the need for court action. Of course, if they refuse to comply the option of suing still exists, but consider the above information before going down that route. It is also possible to ask the Employment Tribunal judge to comment on this but they may not be wiling to do so, as they may not be able to determine what is true and what is not so cannot make such comments based solely on one person’s word against another’s.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 17 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.