Slander, Libel and the Rule of Law

#1
It has recently come to my attention that someone is sending e-mails internationally which accuse me by name (N0 - not Dinsdale P) of breaking and entry, theft, assault, sexual harassment and attempted murder, which is not only completely untrue but is provably untrue.

I have spoken to the police who are completely disinterested and I do not consider that a solicitors letter is sufficient in this case.

I have copies of some of these e-mails which not only show the senders name but also recipients.

I want justice for this. Can anyone please advise the sensible, rational and legal course I should take, before I call-in the boys to 'interview' him?

Your advice would be welcome

PS - I am now ex-military, having served 24 years regular, followed by TA and am now aged 60.
 
#2
You could possibly send an email to each of the people on the original email informing them that it is a complete frabrication and not true.

Failing this go round and give them a damn good kicking.

Sparky
 
#3
Contact some solicitors to see if any of them offer a free 15-30 minute consultation - you'll be able to find out pretty quickly whether you've a case financially worth pursuing. You could also try the Citizens Advice Bureau for the same. If it's not financially viable to pursue this through the courts, you could do as Sparks says and send your own email to those who you know have received it, but be careful not to commit libel against the originator of the email.

Do you know why he wrote what he did and have there been / do you think there will be an escalation of events from mere writing to something physical? I've just run this by my brother (a Met policeman) and he said that the police wouldn't be able to do anything about it because if it's a one-off, it doesn't come under the harassment laws and is a purely civil matter. The police would only be interested if the person begins stalking you physically or by other means or makes threats of violence which you believe to be true, rather than just him ranting.

I wouldn't recommend escalating the situation by getting involved in an 'interview' scenario.
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#4
Dinsdale_Pirhana said:
It has recently come to my attention that someone is sending e-mails internationally which accuse me by name (N0 - not Dinsdale P) of breaking and entry, theft, assault, sexual harassment and attempted murder, which is not only completely untrue but is provably untrue.

I have spoken to the police who are completely disinterested and I do not consider that a solicitors letter is sufficient in this case.

I have copies of some of these e-mails which not only show the senders name but also recipients.

I want justice for this. Can anyone please advise the sensible, rational and legal course I should take, before I call-in the boys to 'interview' him?

Your advice would be welcome

PS - I am now ex-military, having served 24 years regular, followed by TA and am now aged 60.
The person making the allegations......do they work for 'Crime Watch' by any chance?
 

SCoy

War Hero
#5
Just a first year law student without any books - will look it up later.

However, in order for the statement to be defamatory (ie actionable) the statement would cause:

a)an ordinary reasonable person would think less well of you as a person

or

b) would think you were unable to do your job effectively

or

c) would shun or avoid you

or

d) think of you as a figure of fun or an object of ridicule.

However, mere abuse is not defamatory unless an 'ordinary reasonable person' (you see the theme?) would take it as such.

Mere opinion would probably not be considered defamatory, unless the accuser has tried to back it up with facts e.g 'I can prove that....'

It has to come to the attention of a third person, if the emails are sent to you only this will not be enough, but if they are sent to your boss as well, then that will be actionable.

There is other stuff, but I can't say that without knowing all the facts, and that would obviously be confidential.

Try and see if any of this matches and then go see a solicitor. Hope this helps :D
 
#6
Many thanks to you all who responded.

In a nutshell, the person making the accusations is in Scotland and I am in London, so little chance of physical contact or conflict....not that this would necessarily worry me as he is a scruffy little fat sh*t. I am not. despite my unpleasant Avatar.

The only contact I have ever had with him was several years ago when I had responsibility for organising a high-level ceremonial in London which included a church service. A procession had to be formed which included very senior visitors from overseas from a number of countries and I had them all in processional order by seniority, along with escorts and standard-bearers and was about to step-off when this person arrived very late and bustled into the procession upsetting several people as he tried to find his place.

In order to get underway quickly and without any more fuss, I called him forward and inserted him into a vacant space about three from the front, which had been left by an overseas visitor failing to arrive. No big thing and nobody but him and me were any the wiser.

Some weeks later, I saw an article he had written for his local paper (why they would be interested I cannot imagine) where he stated that his seniority and importance had been recognised as I had invited him to lead the procession ahead of all other dignitaries and that I had acted in deference to him.

This was not only grossly incorrect, it was also a huge embarrassment to me as it exposed my actions on the day since it had been circulated to several members.

I therefore wrote a correction in which I advised that he had been late and I had put him where I did for convenience.

That was about ten or more years ago and I have never seen him nor corresponded with him since that time.

I am now about to be appointed to a high position in an international organisation and in April this year, one of my members in Australia sent me a copy of an e-mail which he had received and in which I was accused of the actions already mentioned. He also indicated that Australian members were considering withdrawing their suppoprt for me because of the defamatory accusations.

It goes much further than that but certainly it has affected the way some people perceive me and it has caused great embarrassment at the very least.

To simply write to others on the address list would only be my word against his....and may give him the opportunity of accusing me of slander, libel or whatever .....and would not solve the problem.

I do want positive action against him, and I was of course joking (army humour) when I suggested sending the boys to interview him. That is what my namesakes (Doug and Dinsdale) would have done

I do not have any boys handy to do so and apart from his e-mail address I do not know where he lives.

If anyone would like to pm me rather than extending this on this site, I will be very pleased to hear from you.
 
#7
Dinsdale_Pirhana said:
It has recently come to my attention that someone is sending e-mails internationally which accuse me by name (N0 - not Dinsdale P) of breaking and entry, theft, assault, sexual harassment and attempted murder, which is not only completely untrue but is provably untrue.

I have spoken to the police who are completely disinterested and I do not consider that a solicitors letter is sufficient in this case.

I have copies of some of these e-mails which not only show the senders name but also recipients.

I want justice for this. Can anyone please advise the sensible, rational and legal course I should take, before I call-in the boys to 'interview' him?

Your advice would be welcome

PS - I am now ex-military, having served 24 years regular, followed by TA and am now aged 60.
It is clearly libel. Whether it is worth pursuing depends on how much the person is worth. Defamation is an expensive business - if you win you get an order for about 2/3 of your legal costs, but that's worthless if the person doesn't have the money. If it's just an email to a limited number of random people and you haven't suffered any exclusion or financial loss as a result you might not get very much. If it is worth pursuing, you will need to start with a solicitor's letter anyway, which will invite him to issue an apology and pay you £xxx otherwise you sue his sorry ass.
 
#8
The only real defence in a libel case is if the allegations are true....I assume you have not committed attempted murder etc. Therefore, you could take him to court and probably win BUT it costs - over fifty grand for sure, probably double that.
AS 'hammockhead; suggests, a solicitors letter is the best way - and I see no harm in sending a copy to all the recipients of his original email.....He made it public.
 
#10
You may wish to return to the Police station and ask them to explain why they think this matter does not fall within the ambit of the Malicious Communications Act.
 
#11
ViroBono said:
You may wish to return to the Police station and ask them to explain why they think this matter does not fall within the ambit of the Malicious Communications Act.
Many thanks for this. Unfortunately, the Act does not extend to Scotland.
 
#12
Dinsdale_Pirhana said:
Many thanks to you all who responded.

In a nutshell, the person making the accusations is in Scotland and I am in London, so little chance of physical contact or conflict....not that this would necessarily worry me as he is a scruffy little fat sh*t. I am not. despite my unpleasant Avatar.

The only contact I have ever had with him was several years ago when I had responsibility for organising a high-level ceremonial in London which included a church service. A procession had to be formed which included very senior visitors from overseas from a number of countries and I had them all in processional order by seniority, along with escorts and standard-bearers and was about to step-off when this person arrived very late and bustled into the procession upsetting several people as he tried to find his place.

In order to get underway quickly and without any more fuss, I called him forward and inserted him into a vacant space about three from the front, which had been left by an overseas visitor failing to arrive. No big thing and nobody but him and me were any the wiser.

Some weeks later, I saw an article he had written for his local paper (why they would be interested I cannot imagine) where he stated that his seniority and importance had been recognised as I had invited him to lead the procession ahead of all other dignitaries and that I had acted in deference to him.

This was not only grossly incorrect, it was also a huge embarrassment to me as it exposed my actions on the day since it had been circulated to several members.

I therefore wrote a correction in which I advised that he had been late and I had put him where I did for convenience.

That was about ten or more years ago and I have never seen him nor corresponded with him since that time.

I am now about to be appointed to a high position in an international organisation and in April this year, one of my members in Australia sent me a copy of an e-mail which he had received and in which I was accused of the actions already mentioned. He also indicated that Australian members were considering withdrawing their suppoprt for me because of the defamatory accusations.

It goes much further than that but certainly it has affected the way some people perceive me and it has caused great embarrassment at the very least.

To simply write to others on the address list would only be my word against his....and may give him the opportunity of accusing me of slander, libel or whatever .....and would not solve the problem.

I do want positive action against him, and I was of course joking (army humour) when I suggested sending the boys to interview him. That is what my namesakes (Doug and Dinsdale) would have done

I do not have any boys handy to do so and apart from his e-mail address I do not know where he lives.

If anyone would like to pm me rather than extending this on this site, I will be very pleased to hear from you.
This sounds like a Nigerian scam letter.
 
#14
Sammy The Cat said:
hansvonhealing said:
The only real defence in a libel case is if the allegations are true....
You can still libel someone by telling the truth. Libel is about lowering the reputation whether it is true or not.
Having just done a bloody three hour exam on the subject, if the accuser can provide proof then the claim will be non-actionable :D

Defamation, which includes libel, does indeed 'lower the reputation' but if it can be proven that it is true, then the clamaint themselves will have lowered their reputation, and a claim will b e unsuccessful :lol:
 
#15
SCoy said:
Sammy The Cat said:
hansvonhealing said:
The only real defence in a libel case is if the allegations are true....
You can still libel someone by telling the truth. Libel is about lowering the reputation whether it is true or not.
Having just done a bloody three hour exam on the subject, if the accuser can provide proof then the claim will be non-actionable :D

Defamation, which includes libel, does indeed 'lower the reputation' but if it can be proven that it is true, then the clamaint themselves will have lowered their reputation, and a claim will b e unsuccessful :lol:
Scoy is right on this. I think sammy is mixing it up with the laws of privacy. In some situations, mainly when somebody has done something in their youth and is now a grown up, they may be able to stop somebody revealing stories about them.
 
#16
A writing, falsely accusing you of committing crimes, published to third parties is libel per se and actionable by you as plaintiff. You don't even have to prove that you were damaged by a libel per se as damage is presumed.

(Other per se libelous communications include: imputation that the plaintiff was infected with a "loathsome" disease, accusations of professional or vocational incompetence, and, as to a woman, a lack of chastity.)

In the UK courts (unlike American courts), the defeated party must pay the attorney fees and litigation expenses of the winning party. That can work out to a tidy sum. I mention this because there's no real guarantee that you'll win even if the provable facts are on your side.

In deciding whether to take legal action, you should consider whether the recipients of these disparaging messages believe or are likely to believe them.

I've seen it happen time and again that the authors of "poison pen" letters accomplish nothing except to discredit themselves.

You might want to get the advice of your solicitor as to the period of limitations. In many American jurisdictions, actions for libel and slander are governed by short periods of limitation.

Also, it might be worth inquiring whether the author(s) of the offending messages actually have any money. I'm not sure how much satisfaction you'd get from prosecuting the case to an uncollectable judgment.

What I've written here is based on American defamation law. However, American defamation law is substantially a copy of the English law.

Hope this helps.
 
#17
You may also want to get your solicitor's advice as to whether, before filing court pleadings, you should serve your tormentor with a demand for a written retraction of the libelous messages transmitted by e-mail to all the recipients thereof.
 
#18
Malicious Communications Act 1988 (c. 27)
1988 Chapter c. 27



An Act to make provision for the punishment of persons who send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety.
[29th July 1988]




Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Offence of sending letters etc. with intent to cause distress or anxiety.

1.—(1) Any person who sends to another person—
(a) a letter or other article which conveys—
(i) a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;
(ii) a threat; or
(iii) information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or
(b) any other article which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,
is guilty of an offence if his purpose, or one of his purposes, in sending it is that it should, so far as falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above, cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.
 
#19
Well if you wish to spend a few hundred pounds you get a solicitor to write a snotty letter to them advising them that if there is further repetition of this sort of behaviour they could well face action in the courts.
 
#20
Might I suggest the Protection from HarassmentAct?

Allsomeone needs to do is to "Engage in a course of Conduct" which they know or should know will cause harassment. Falls within criminal law so you should get the police back and mention it to them. It's a damn sight cheaper than a private case...
 

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