£40,000 damages in Twitter libel case

first_imgJulian Santos, instructed by Pennningtons Manches appeared for the claimant, David Hirst, instructed by Humphreys & Co, for the defendant. A former chairman of a UK Independence Party branch has been ordered to pay £40,000 in damages to a man defamed on Twitter even though he did not write the offending tweet.Ruling in Zahir Monir v Steve Wood, the Honourable Mr Justice Nicklin accepted that Steve Wood had not written or approved the tweet, made from the UKIP branch account and picturing a Labour election candidate alongside two men described as ‘child grooming taxi drivers’. However he held that the tweet’s author, John Langley, was ‘quite clearly acting as the agent of Mr Wood’.The judgment affirms that a web post seen by relatively few people can meet the ‘serious harm’ test established by the 2013 Defamation Act even though at least some viewers  know immediately that it is untrue. Zahir Monir, a Rotherham businessman and Labour activist, took action after his attention was drawn to the tweet, which the judge described as ‘a very serious defamatory allegation’. It was published in the runup to the 2015 general election to @BristolUKIP’s 547 followers, retweeted at least 17 times and ‘liked’ at least eight times. The court heard that Monir had identified Wood as the branch chairman and telephoned to complain, and later contacted the police.However the judge ruled that Wood had not taken Monir’s complaints seriously, quoting Wood as saying that, as a bailiff, challenges to his authority were as ‘water off a duck’s back’. According to the judgment, Wood’s conviction that he had done nothing wrong ‘together with his stubbornness and self confidence, has led him to have adopted an uncompromising approach to Mr Munir’s claim.’ In particular Wood argued that Langley, originally named on the claim form, should be held responsible. The proceedings were served on Wood after it became apparent that there was no prospect of recovering damages from Langley, a self-styled ‘maverick’ who had a sideline as a pornographic video maker and actor under the name ‘Johnny Rockard’. In his witness statement, Wood had initially maintained ‘I do not use Twitter’, saying he would need to be taught or have it demonstrated. However the judge found that, ‘the evidence satisfies me that Mr Wood was familiar with Twitter and, contrary to the impression given in his witness statement, he was perfectly capable of using (and did use) Twitter.’On the serious harm test, the judge said that even though witnesses who had recognised Monir from the tweet knew that the allegation was false ‘an unquantifiable number of further publishees’ who saw it reproduced on WhatsApp groups might have been able to identify him. On damages, the judge said that the gravity of the allegation ‘puts it to the top end of seriousness’, compounded by Wood’s ‘intransigence and his refusal publicly to apologise’. Had the libel been published in a national newspaper, £250,000 or more could have been justified, he said. The figure of £40,000 was proportionate to the limited scale of publication and the ‘difficulties of causation’.  Monir’s solicitor, Jeremy Clarke-Williams of commercial and private client firm Penningtons Manches, said the judgment provides Monir with ‘the complete vindication he deserves’. He said that the judgment will have implications for every organisation delegating responsibility for social media accounts. ‘If you are responsible for letting a maverick genie out of the bottle then you are likely to face the legal consequences – and in the era of fake news that presents a real risk.’last_img read more

Ed Woodward and the Glazers have learned from mistakes

first_imgEd Woodward was right to block certain transfers having made mistakes before.That’s according to Gary Neville via Goal.com.He was talking initially an indirect reference to the transfer of Jerome Boateng.The fact that Ed Woodward refused to give in to Jose Mourinho’s demands and Bayern Munichs price.The Glazers and Woodward blocked the Portuguese attempt to sign the defender.Mourinho made no secret of his desire to sign another centre-back.He identified several, including Boateng and recent acquisition Maguire. Woodward and the United owners failed to oblige with anyone.Neville said of the situation:“What the club have realised, what the Glazers have realised and probably what Ed Woodward has realised in the last 18 months is that they’ve stopped saying ‘yes’ to managers.”“Jose wanted to sign Boateng for £50 million.”“I probably would’ve blocked that myself if I was the owner of a football club.”Harry Maguire, Manchester UnitedLiverpool legend Nicol slams Harry Maguire’s Man United form Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Steve Nicol believes Harry Maguire has made some “horrendous mistakes” recently, and has failed to find his best form since joining Manchester United.“Bayern don’t let anyone go if they’re half decent.”“We’ve been burnt on Schweinsteiger.”“They didn’t want to pay the money for Maguire at the time.”“I think the club are changing the policy with the same people.”“I think for the first time this summer, there is a profile of player that it looks like they’re going for.“They announced at the end of the season that they were going to sign young players.”“That were more fitting with what United would do in the past. I don’t disagree with what they’ve done this summer.”“Man United were never going to get the best player in the world or the top 10 best players in the world this summer, they weren’t going to come.”What was interesting is the impact that all United’s new faces had on the game against Chelsea.Maguire and Wan-Bissaka fighting it out for the man of the match after not putting afoot wrong. James coming on for a cameo appearance and scoring on his Old Trafford debut.MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 01: Ed Woodward executive vice-chairman of Manchester United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on May 1, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)last_img read more