Same Libel Threat, Different Person Threatening Me

Urgh, it’s happening again! This is the 4th incident where I’ve been told to remove content from my site because it’s supposedly libellous. It’s like Groundhog day, because the threats are always so ridiculous and petty, in my opinion.

The latest episode is actually the most flimsy libel notice I’ve ever received. At least the others were properly formatted, informative and seemed somewhat legit (in terms of the way they were written). Take a look at the email I received:

LIBEL NOTICE – Article title – Is your Letting Agent holding Deposits… Post – Romeo Victim wrote this on 2010-01-08 19:09:43

Please note there is an ongoing libel action underway regarding similar defamatory statements which have been put all over the net. Please accept this as notification that is the above comment is not removed by 5pm on Tuesday 12 January 2010 you will be added to the proceedings as a voluntary publisher. Google are aware and are in the process of removing all search links to this and similar comments.

Kind Regards.
Claire Mulally

Here’s a link to the article: Is Your Letting Agent Holding Deposits Or Failing To Pass On Rent?, and the actual comment is at the bottom of the page- “Romeo Victim”, wrote this on 2010-01-08 19:09:43.

Note: I’ve removed the comment now. However, the user “Romeo Victim” was basically complaining/accusing a letting agent (that has now seized trading due to financial difficulties) of leaving dozens of landlords trying to trace £100k+ of missing rent and deposits.

My thoughts

1] The comment may be libellous, but Claire didn’t tell me what in particular is defamatory. Surely she should tell me, right?

2] I received the email at 1pm – she gave me 4 hours notice to bend over and lick her toes. 4 hours? Give me a break. I didn’t even have access to my website until 8pm tonight. I’m not sure what the law stipulates, but is 4 hours appropriate notice? I had a similar problem before, when some fucker gave me a few hours notice to remove some content from my website. Seems ridiculous.

3] I refuse to believe for one second that Google are aware and are in the process of removing all search links to this and similar comments, as Claire claimed. Firstly, Google are way too big to bend over for such a small case. Secondly, it’s not illegal to link to libel comments, it’s only illegal to host the content. So why would Google bother?

4] Who the fuck is Claire Mulally? Claire didn’t even tell me who she is, or what relation she has to the whole issue.

5] Since I’m such an uber geek I entered Claire’s email address (the one she provided in her email) into Facebook and I got this result:
Charlotte Massett On Facebook

Hmm..I’m confused!!!! The result pulls up “Charlotte Massett”, yet the email was signed from a Claire Mulally. So what’s happening here?

It all seems pretty flimsy to me, right? I’m not going to take this seriously until Claire (or whoever) approaches me properly. At the moment, there’s no substance, yet the threat seems very real.

I ain’t going to remove shit for now, not only because this is a piss-poor case as it stands, but also because as I’ve stated in my previous libel cases, it’s about principle. People shouldn’t just be able to threaten people so abruptly without being courteous and precise. I hate it when people go in all guns blazing. Claire could have tried asking me nicely to remove the content (without the legal shit). Granted, I wouldn’t have removed the content even if she was sweet as Miss Daisy, but still…she could have tried playing nice before getting dirty with legal jargon.

I haven’t replied to Claire’s email yet. Should I? If so, what should I say? I was just going to reply, “No”, and that’s it.

If there’s any progress on this case, I’ll keep you guys informed.

UPDATE – 14/01/2010

Yesterday Charlotte/Claire emailed me advising me to remove this article. Yet again, she failed to explain WHY I needed to do so, just as she had yet to explain what exactly was libellous about the comment she wanted initially removed. It was all starting to get quite tedious. I was getting orders barked at me, with no explanation. I wonder how she would have reacted if roles were reversed?

I responded asking 3 very simple questions: 1) what is libellous about the comment she wants removed 2) was I talking to Charlotte or Claire (and who is Claire?) 3) Why should I remove this blog post?

She replied, and this time actually gave me detailed and precise answers. Wicked. Last night I removed the comment because for the first time I was actually given real reasons to remove it, as opposed to “I’m not going to tell you who I am, I’m going to use a false name, I could be anyone….but I want you to remove that from your website in 4 hours”

For those wondering, Claire is a fake name Charlotte used. Not entirely sure how legal it is to send a legal notice to someone under a fake name? There’s got to be some kind of irony there, however…

Due to the fact I’m such a kind natured beast, I’ve blocked out Charlotte’s Facebook picture (due to her request).

Anyways, I still feel this could have all been avoided if Charlotte had approached me like a decent human (believe it or not, I am reasonable), and explained shit nicely. I don’t respond well to hastiness, brashness or legal threats.

I don’t want to host any illegal content in any shape or form, so I’d rather work with people on defusing these issues. Operative term being “work with people” – NOT “roll over and play slave”

UPDATE – 17/01/2010

This is fucking ridiculous now. Over this last week I’ve received more emails about this issue than I care to remember. I can’t believe I’ve got caught up in something so shit. I’ve received emails from both parties (the person who left the original comment and the person who told me to remove the libellous content). Both are playing victim, and both claim the police are involved, and both are providing me contacts to different Police officers to contact so I can clarify this is all legit! How crazy. I’m just a landlord blogger.

I’m in an unfortunate position where I don’t know what is true or not, and I can’t be arsed to get involved in a legal battle over this, so what do I do? It’s all very entertaining, granted, but I don’t want to get involved if it means I need to get solicitors involved, or stand infront of a jury. I’m young, I’d rather spend my time partying and picking up loose women.

UPDATE – 17/01/2010

Charlotte has emailed me AGAIN. So let me tell you how unreasonable I feel Charlotte is being. Firstly, this is what i’ve done for Charlotte so far…

1) Removed her picture/real surname (Massett is a fake surname to protect Charlotte’s real identity)
2) removed the comment she initially wanted removed
3) had to put up with several emails from her, warning/threatening me

Bear in mind, I feel she hasn’t been nice to me at all, and I didn’t feel I had to do any of the above. However, having done the above, she was happy (why wouldn’t she be happy? I did absolutely EVERYTHING she wanted). Then “Romeo Victom” left another comment, so she decides to email me telling me to do the following:

1) COMPLETELY remove this article. WHY? It wasn’t libellous before, and she was happy for the article to remain after I removed her name and picture. So why all of a sudden do I need to remove this article?
2) Remove 2 comments left by “romeo victim”

If I don’t do the above she’s going to take legal action against me TOMORROW and have my website removed from the internet.

I have emails to prove all of this. She’s the most unreasonable individual I have ever encountered. She’s basically giving me new orders, and if I don’t comply, she threatens me with legal action.

I cannot believe she is getting me involved so deeply with this, and so aggressively as well. And to top it off, she gave me some advice on how to run my website- apparently I should approve ALL comments before they display.

I feel harressed by Charlotte. NO JOKE!

UPDATE – 18/01/2010

So, I was told to remove this blog post by the 17th of January 2010 (yesterday), which I clearly haven’t done, and this is why…

I was told by Charlotte that they (she used the word “we”, so I assume her and her legal team) have contacted my web host and informed them I am hosting libellous material. Consequently, I was informed by Charlotte that my website could get removed.

Naturally, I got in contact with my host immediately, and explained the situation. My host came back to me this morning and confirmed that they haven’t received anything yet, and they won’t just remove my site without discussing the situation with me first.

So, yet again, something doesn’t quite add up here. Was I lied to (again)?

I’ve also been informed by another web admin that they also received the same libel notice as I did. I’m just waiting to hear what they did.

The odd thing is, I’m still not sure why Charlotte is doing all the talking. Richard James Davies, the ex-sole director at Romeo Bater (the letting agent which the initial comment was about) has left a comment on my blog (below) and he seems fine, and has even provided an email contact for anyone wanting to contact him. Moreover, Richard (Charlotte’s brother) used Charlotte’s REAL name in his comment, which I was told to strictly remove for legal reasons. What the hell?!?

So what the hell is going on here? Confused.com

Just like to say thanks to everyone who has shown me support through this whole ordeal. It really is appreciated. Hopefully my website will live to fight another.

UPDATE – 26/01/2010

On the 22nd of january I was informed by my hosting company that they have received a letter from Charlotte’s lawyers. Her lawyer’s basically told them what they wanted this article removed and a few specific comments Modified. But amazingly, they weren’t told WHY it NEEDED to be done, just as I haven’t from the start. There was no mention of which laws I was breaching by holding the content. All they mentioned is why THEY (her lawyers’) wanted it removed.

I’m just in the middle of resolving this with my hosting company as we speak. My contact with in the company has been extremely cool and understanding about the situation so far. Much appreciated, dude!

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30 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Jools 13th January, 2010 @ 15:08

Can't see anything wrong with it either. Tell them to put up or shut up!

Power to the people bruvva!

Jools

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Greg 13th January, 2010 @ 21:07

very unprofessional for a legal bod to use a fake name in my honest opinion. but your right that email looks proper weak. she probably just tried to chance it.

good luck anyways

-- 15/01/2010 This comment has been modified by The Landlord (admin)

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lesley 14th January, 2010 @ 11:02

Ok, now I'm confused (or stupid):

Is Claire Mulally a real person/solicitor?
or,
Is Charlotte the 'real' person/solicitor who sent original libel notice? If so, why the pretence?

Cheers

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 14th January, 2010 @ 12:24

Claire Mulally is a fake name, which the solicitor used when sending the original libel notice :)
All seems a little odd for a legal representative to do that, innit?

However, I have checked it out, and Charlotte is a legit solicitor/lawyer or whatever. She wanted to stand anonymous due to personal circumstances which I won't discuss. I wonder if she uses a fake name when sending legal letters to everyone? Is that even legit? I have no idea. But it's weird.

I'm still a bit on edge about the whole incident, to be honest. It doesn't all make sense.

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Sam 14th January, 2010 @ 13:27

so what are the "detailed and precise answers" to your 3 questions?

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th January, 2010 @ 09:55

Hey Sam,

Apparently I broke some kind of privacy act by revealing the name of the person that emailed me! They sent the original email anonymously (under a fake name), and by revealing their real name I breached their privacy, hence why I should remove/modify this blog post.

I'm not sure if that's all true or not, but it seems ridiculous, in my opinion. If someone emails me telling me to remove content from my site under a fake name, they deserve to be exposed, right? Right. I don't like the law regarding this issue if it's all true. It's not like i'm lying, in fact, i'm being the most honest person out of everyone involved.

This country is getting like America....sue anyone for anything. Psh.

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RomeoVictim 17th January, 2010 @ 12:23

Hello!

Sorry to have kept you away from partying and picking up loose women, especially on a weekend ;-)

It would be appreciated if this feedback can be left on the blog for others to respond to, albeit I would not expect you to spend any more time responding or investigating yourself.

If you feel compelled to, please do provide the details of the Police officer the other party has referred you to. Why is the "victim" not confident enough to share the name of the officer they refer to on this forum?

That way, if anyone else is being harassed by totally unreasonable landlords or tenants who have lost money entrusted to an agent named RomeoBater then I am sure that officer will be pleased to offer further assistance to the harassed parties... maybe even some councilling.

Please do look me up online - you have my email address and my profile is all over the web. I am just a private landlord with no axe to grind other than wanting to know where my tenant's monies (and those of the other Wandsworth Landlords who used RomeoBater and have got in touch with me through forums like this) have gone.

I agree that the request to remove information from someone who later admits coming to you with a fake name in the first instance is ridiculous.

As my personal and subjective opinion (that does not reflect the opinions of the site owner or any moderator), the fact Claire / Charlotte is in fact a Barrister in a high profile chambers it appears even more ridiculous if they are, as they claim, genuinely protecting someone from genuinely being libeled!

Incidentally, my comments refer to the fact that Mr Richard Davies is refusing to return calls or speak with Landlords and tenants wanting to know where there deposits have gone. In my case, and that of Romeo Victim 2, we have both been told that we have been reported to the Police for harassment when simply asking the former Directors / Financial Director of RomeoBater where our money / that of our tenants has gone and where we can find the current Director of the company.

Is asking the Directors / former directors of a letting agent that appears to have stolen our tenants money really harassment?

Interested to have the opinions of other people!

Thanks RV1

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Richard James Davies 17th January, 2010 @ 15:56

My name is Richard James Davies.

I was the sole director at Romeo Bater. With regards to the monies lost due to Romeo Bater ceasing trading, I can only apologise. If I had money I would return it to you all today, but I don't even have the £2,000 required to liquidate the company.

I have no assets, no home and no car. Basil Hawkins has never traded and has never earnt a penny.

For the record, Charlotte Pickering and Gemma Coles had absolutely no knowledge or involvement in the demise of my company. Gemma and I are no longer together due to these circumstances and the least I owe her and my sister is to clear their names. Also my Father, Richard Morgan Davies had absolutely no knowledge of the financial straights that my company was in when I asked him to become a director and invest money into the company to open a second office.

I worked as hard as humanly possible to keep the company going to earn enough money to pay everyone back but the hole I was in was too deep. Again, I can only apologise to you all and assure you that there is no money. If I had any I would attempt to make repayments but my career and life is in tatters.

If anyone wants to contact me then they can on my email address which is LIITEA@HOTMAIL.CO.UK

Richard

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Jools 17th January, 2010 @ 17:43

Hey landlord - are these people serious?

How on earth can anyone demand that you remove a so called libelous comment with threat of legal action when they themselves use a false name. I would love to see that in a court of law. "yes M'lud, i used a false name in order to get the person to remove the comment under threat of legal action". I can see the judge being very impressed with that.

@Richard James Davies: my heart bleeds.

@Claire Lullaly or what ever the hell your name is; grow some bollocks and if you wish to be taken seriously then use your real name in future instead of hiding behind a pseudonym.

Keep up the great work landlord!!

Jools

Once again these comments are my own and not those of the owner of this site.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th January, 2010 @ 19:27

Jools: Thanks for your support, brother. This is a fucking joke, in my opinion. I cannot begin to explain how harressed I feel over this issue. The emails from Charlotte are too much.

Richard: Please get Charlotte to stop threatening me with legal action. Thanks!

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Sam 17th January, 2010 @ 21:35

Landlord this just stinks to me - if a company has traded i't account are public and that means the directors should be held accountable. If people want to discuss this - then they should be able to!

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Simon 18th January, 2010 @ 09:46

Please *don't* remove the article / comment :)

People like Charlotte need to calm down and realise that manners and reasonableness are important qualities for getting what you want.

She's also lying. As you say Google are not going to be removing such comments from their index based on her say so (how would they even know which comments to remove - unless the person is posting identical comments all over the web).

Also if the claims being made are false, why not offer some kind of rebuttal rather than wild claims of legal action?

Tedious for you to end up involved in someone elses squabbling but don't let them push "the internet" around ! :)

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RomeoVictim 18th January, 2010 @ 11:22

Richard - Good of you to get in touch.

Firstly:

Your current, personal address for service at companies house is still the (long vacant) shop you rented on Old York Road, Wandsworth SW18 until September 2009.

Your prior address was listed at Companies House as your parents home in Luton and they advise you have gone away and say they don't know where you are living or have any contact with you.

Given your stated apologies and apparent regret, and perhaps in the interest of Gemma Coles, your father and Charlotte Pickering, I trust you will be happy to tell us where you are living - ie provide a new address for service today, here on this forum, and you will also update Companies House immediately. Both efforts will of course cost you nothing and help conclude these issues sooner rather than later for all concerned. Stop running away!

Secondly:
As Landlords, aside from what you state here about your personal or company losses, we have yet to have any confirmation of where the missing rents and tenant deposits not passed to us have gone, or if they were kept in a ring-fenced client account / passed to the DPS as they should have been. Please advise either way, (both here and in a personal email to your former clients), so we can overcome how this badly affects our relationships with our tenants.

In the spirit of your apology we look forward to your response both issues on this post as an indicator of how genuine you really are.

Thank you

P.S.

@ Landlord - thanks for the time, effort and resilience!

@ Charlotte please give up the threats and harassment for your own good as well as everyone elses...

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Dan Harrison 18th January, 2010 @ 11:25

This is increasingly sounding like harassment, and perhaps it's time to take steps to consider counter-action?

Dan

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Romeo Victim 3 18th January, 2010 @ 11:46

Dear The Landlord,

Thank you for keeping this blog going and providing a forum for landlords to share our experience.

I am so sorry for the hassle and harassment that you have been getting from Charlotte/Claire Massett/Davies/Pickering. It sounds so rediculous and it is not surprising that some might wonder it this is some sort of a joke.

-- 18/01/2010 - sorry, had to remove/edit the following statement. The_Landlord.
The fact is that Romeo Bater, a letting agent formerly located at Old York Road, Wandsworth, SW18, has disappeared virtually overnight last year.

We have all the documentation to support our claims, which we have already provided to DS Doyle at Wandsworth Police.

Thanks again!

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jools 18th January, 2010 @ 13:09

Reading this from New York as had to come away due to a family bereavement. However, it looks as much a joke from over here as back in the UK.

And they call us landlords a bunch of shysters. Perhaps the sooner the regulate letting agents the better.

Keep up the good work.

Jools

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th January, 2010 @ 15:07

@Romeo Victim

The following article maybe relevant to you, as it discuses the issue at hand (letting agents and tenancy deposits)...

http://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/News/Story/?storyid=2709&type=news_feed

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RomeoVictim 19th January, 2010 @ 18:05

Thanks Landlord

Despite the excitement of contact from Davies and Davies, still no update on a postal / service address to reach Richard James Davies or Romeo Bater Ltd other than a hotmail email account.

Does anyone know if Mr Davies Jr is sleeping under a wet windy London bridge or has fled to sunny Australia perhaps?

Can Mr Richard Morgan Davies confirm whether or not he is now speaking to or knows the whereabouts of his son and if Foresbrook, Butterfield Green, Luton is indeed where he is living or not?

There has been no answer to the simple question about "where the missing rents and tenant deposits" have gone, and considering the previous comments made on this blog by Richard James Davies (2010-01-17 15:50:34):

(NB. Landlord please add a link if you can to the other comments section of the blog)

"... my Father, Richard Morgan Davies had absolutely no knowledge of the financial straights that my company was in when I asked him to become a director and invest money into the company to open a second office.

I worked as hard as humanly possible to keep the company going to earn enough money to pay everyone back but the hole I was in was too deep."

And those of Richard Morgan Davies (2010-01-17 19:03:29):

"Every body involved worked as hard as they could to keep things going, the fact that I lost my entire lifes savings proves that we took this very very seriously.The office rent and wage bills were just too big to sustain and the company went under."

There is hence nothing to counter the personal opinions (that I am entitled to state here, but, as per all content of this post, are not necessarily those of the site owner, any moderator or other contributor of this site)"

(a) That Richard James Davies could possibly have used the missing tenant rent and deposit monies discussed to fund the expansion of Romeo Bater Ltd, a business owned by him and his father, including those rent and wage bills "that were just too big" that Richard Davies Sr referenced in his own comment.

(b) That people may be wondering if Mr Richard Davies Jr or Sr were recipients of the wages that were (partial quote) "just too big to sustain" and that could possibly look to some observers as some form of dishonest personal gain?

(c) That maybe Mr Richard Morgan Davies was unfortunately as oblivious of his fiduciary duties as a Director of the company as he was of the business accounts prior to investing in the firm, for such a terrible turn of circumstances concluding in the loss of his life savings.

RV1

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Scribbler 19th January, 2010 @ 18:14

Landlord, you may want to update your disclaimer; it may help with problems like these.

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AndyM 19th January, 2010 @ 23:30

Remember the saying - it's only libel/slander if it's not true.

I am a web host myself and have read this in the past in case I am ever contacted over a customer's web site. Luckily, so far this has not happened.

As long as you have given an honest account of what has happened, this article is not libellous and I believe anyone cannot demand that it be removed for this reason.

As for Google - take a look at the following article which also links to two documents on removing content from search results. As you will see, for sites in the US it states that Google does not remove defamatory content unless ordered by a court to do so.

http://webtechlaw.com/how-remove-defamatory-material-google

Obviously things may be different here in the UK, but I would not expect Google to remove it, or your host (at least not without notice). I certainly would not, not without proper legal documentation that I could hold in my hands (or if it was something obviously illegal).

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GillsMan 26th January, 2010 @ 07:42

It's very unusual for a lawyer or solicitor to provide a fake name. On the basis of that alone I'd be minded to ignore the warning as she's clearly not a professional - never mind the bullshit about Google removing links. Yeah, good luck with that!

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Phil Wadsworth 26th January, 2010 @ 20:09

A couple of points for deliberation.

1. I believe you cannot serve any legal notice in this country (UK) by email as it cannot be signed as such to prove ownership in a court of law. So any previous correspondance in terms of demands is irrelevant.

2. AndyM is spot on to my knowledge. You can only libel someone if you state something about someone which is untrue and you do so in a public arena. However, repeating something someone else has said but turns out to be false is no defence against this.

3. Anyone who sends an email under a fake name is clearly either a spammer or has something to hide !.

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h 27th January, 2010 @ 18:21

There I was thinking starting a blog was a good idea this stuff is freaking me out!! this is the kind of bull you get from people might need to quit while im ahead lol this stuff taking the fun outta blogging! good luck

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RomeoVictim 3rd February, 2010 @ 19:56

Hi Landlord

Hope all is well, am greatly admiring you for standing up for all that is good and right!

You know where to find me if your hosting company has any problems, it's great to hear they are a sensible company by the seems of things, please do pass my details on to them as I am the one who made the true statements which are being falsely claimed as libelous and I will do everything I can to assist.

Would be very interested to see the letter your hosting firm has received - interestingly Richard Davies and Richard Davies have still failed to respond to the straight forward questions asked of them! I wonder if that is a sign of how genuine their comments are on this forum? I keep watching the forum with baited breath...

Keep up the great work!

RV1

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Jools 3rd February, 2010 @ 20:49

Phil wadsworth is right,

you cannot serve or be served with legal documents via email.

Jools

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Stefan Codrington 3rd March, 2010 @ 13:15

I'd notify the Bar Standards Board (http://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/) that Claire/Charlotte is abusing her experience and standing as a barrister to intimidate you into action.

Seems like a load of tosh if you ask me.

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Billy 30th June, 2010 @ 00:11

It is true that a statement, even if defamatory, is not libelous if it is true. However, it does not necessarily prevent the person (or company) claiming libel from bringing a case against you. In UK law libel and damages are assumed and the onus is then on the accused to prove that the statements are true. The accuser simply sits back watching your finances dwindling, the very reason why so many libel accusations are not defended. You're very fortunate because most ISP's immediately remove websites at the slightest allegation (true or false) of libelous statements or they lose their protection under UK law.

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Tom 10th September, 2015 @ 16:35

Out of interest how did this issue pan out?!

Did she back down??

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 11th September, 2015 @ 08:12

Ha, almost forgot this happened.

I didn't hear anything back from her. I guess we've all moved on. The circle of life.

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Tom 11th September, 2015 @ 09:10

Haha, wow you just never know who you are dealing with on the internet nowsdays!

Sorry to bring up painful memories!

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