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Deformation of character?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dougguk, 5 May 2006.

  1. dougguk

    Banned

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 136

    Hi all, I'm not good with law but maybe someone here is :)

    Basically I run a website which allows people to leave comments too. Someone left a comment on my website with the name of "James" and the comment "I am the only gay in this villaaage". Quoting little Britain! No full names, addresses, etc - thats it.

    Now, just so happens a Team Leader at work is called James. He was on the site today and raised a complaint with HR and Management after seeing it as he said it referred to him. He isnt gay mind you and the comment didnt even point to him. Looking at the logs it wasnt even posted by someone from the office at all!

    The end result is my site has been banned from anyone in the company accessing it and I feel like a criminal over it all!

    The website isnt hosted by my work place, wasnt made in their time and has nothing to do with them! It is run by me and a mate out of work as a fun site. Nothing dodgy or bad about it at all!

    Where do I stand as a result of this? Everyone in the company now knows the site is banned and I believe this to be completely unfair and people are talking about it. Not to mention the fact that management may think the worse of me now.

    Can I sue for deformation of character considering the comment had no relation to James and the site is nothing to do with work? Its at the point now that I dont want to go back into the office :( He went to HR and management first before even mentioning anything about the comment to me (I havent been in work all week as im on hols). As soon as he did mention it when I came onto MSN I removed it out of courtesy for him, before discovering he had gone to HR and there was an email from them awaiting me :(

    Any advice? My belief is that he totally over-reacted and has ruined my image at work as a concequence of it. He is usually an a** of a Team Leader and has gone too far this time.
     
  2. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,313

    Location: Plymouth

    Just show the people he complained to that it was completely innocent and he's being an ass.

    I don't think you really want to sue over something like that, even if you could afford a defamation suit :)

    Edit: I say "just" - good luck...complete overreaction by them :/
     
  3. Alasdair

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 16 Apr 2004

    Posts: 1,977

    Location: Edinburgh

    Personally I don't think you've got a leg to stand on.

    Has anything official been done, other that prohibiting other people to access your website in work? Aren't you meant to be working in work anyway?

    Unless he's made something official, i.e. raised a grievance, then you can't do anything about it.

    If management's opinion of you relating to this instance was somehow to affect your working environment, then you would have a case if this present issue isn't documented, but other than that there's nothing you can do.
     
  4. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 3 May 2004

    Posts: 17,669

    Location: Kapitalist Republik of Surrey

    Is this not a little petty?
     
  5. dougguk

    Banned

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 136

    True, it could be expensive, but there was a promotion role I wanted to apply for next month which I feel would now be against me :(

    I would just want to clear my name and make management KNOW that it was nothing to do with anyone at work so what is it doing being a work matter!!
     
  6. Alasdair

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 16 Apr 2004

    Posts: 1,977

    Location: Edinburgh

    By you bringing it into work, it'll make you look worse.
     
  7. dougguk

    Banned

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 136

    Well it would be petty had he not raised an official complaint about it with HR. All the idiot had to do was make me aware of the comment and I would have had no qualm about removing it if he thought it was relating to him.

    Most people at work are laughing at the fact he went to HR over it, but that doesnt really help me with the fact its all documented at HR level now and has probably cost me the promotion. Unfortunately I work in an environment where management are vindictive and dont look out for their staff :(
     
  8. Cybermyk

    Soldato

    Joined: 31 May 2005

    Posts: 6,850

    Location: Peoples Republik of Teesside

    You need to reply to the HR letter along the lines of -

    A post made by person or persons unknown referring to the said individual (James) was removed as being an item of spam from the aforementioned internet forum by me.

    Neither the original poster or the comment he or she made have anything whatsoever to do with this company or any of its personnel.


    Just so it's clear
     
  9. singist

    Mobster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 4,446

    Location: Student Hell Headingley

    Print out the logs and post 'em on the company notice board.
     
  10. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 3 May 2004

    Posts: 17,669

    Location: Kapitalist Republik of Surrey

    Get some OcUK members from around the country to anonymously send in letters with
    JAMES IS GAY!!!
    printed on A4
     
  11. dougguk

    Banned

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 136

    I like that one :D
     
  12. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 3 May 2004

    Posts: 17,669

    Location: Kapitalist Republik of Surrey

    The guy is on a major paranoia trip, we might as well feed it!
     
  13. MuvverRussia

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,177

    Location: Cardiff/Coventry

    Best bet is to just have a disclaimer on your website regarding 3rd party comments.

    As for bringing a defamation case - good luck. You'll need virtually bottomless pockets (defamation is extremely expensive - unless this has seriously screwed up your future job prospects then I wouldn't bother) and the end result could be next to worthless.

    Just treat it as an experience and move on.
     
  14. dougguk

    Banned

    Joined: 7 Mar 2006

    Posts: 136

    Well I keep receiving calls from colleagues from work and the ex team-leader who was a good one and they are all supportive of me and think I should take it further. I will make an appointment with HR I reckon on monday and go in and see them. Then see what the score is before looking at legal action if it really is bad. Think that would be the best thing to do.

    Failing that, the A4 thing works for me :D
     
  15. fini

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 26 Aug 2004

    Posts: 7,569

    Location: London

    These sort of cases are some of the most expensive and difficult to prove cases in existence - to put it bluntly you'll probably go bankrupt before winning.

    What have you lost? A possible chance at a promotion? How would you quantify that loss - because if you can't quantify the loss you can't sue for anything.

    fini
     
  16. Sequoia

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 15 Aug 2005

    Posts: 2,948

    If you want to think in terms of £30,000 - £50,000 for a relatively simple defamation case, and be aware that they can and regularly do top £500,000, just for YOUR fees, let alone the possibility of ending up paying the other guys legal costs too, then sure, sue.

    It must be one heck of a promotion. :)
     
  17. M0KUJ1N

    PermaBanned

    Joined: 17 Mar 2004

    Posts: 1,486

    Location: Edinburgh

    All sounds a bit silly to me- for a start "James" isn't exactly what we would call an uncommon name :) Also if this posting is on (say) a public guestbook then feasibly anyone could post a comment. Of course it is your site so you have a responsibility to look after it but legally they don't have much to go on and there is virtually zero chance of them proving that 1) you posted the comment in the first place and 2) that it was intended to offend this particular James. Of course this episode could be motivation to introduce proper authentication, user accounts and auditing on your website ;)

    Mind you, explaining the ins and outs of anything more complex than formatting a Word document to someone in HR is a bit like explaining quantum mechanics to your pet dog.
     
  18. Vertigo1

    Capodecina

    Joined: 28 Dec 2003

    Posts: 15,243

    No it's very petty.

    To be frank, if I worked with people like that I wouldn't really want to be anywhere near them, let alone have them reading my website.
     
  19. Lagz

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 25 Jul 2003

    Posts: 1,980

    I would say its you overreacting. This whole thing will be forgotten about in about a day.
     
  20. stoofa

    Capodecina

    Joined: 4 Mar 2003

    Posts: 12,028

    Location: Chatteris

    If only things were that easy.
    Many years ago people didn't have their own websites.
    It was a long, drawn-out affair and with so few hosts selling space to people and ISP's not giving space away....
    These days everyone can and many do have their own sites.
    Wouldn't life be so easy and convenient if we could all just place a disclaimer on our sites and then sit back and let everything roll off us like water from a ducks back...
    When you own a website with it you also take on certain responsabilities the majority of which a disclaimer cannot help you with.
    If you're going to have an area on a website where people can post anything, be it forums, threads, grafitti pages whatever you need to be able to moderate them and if you can't do that 24/7 (either with a team of moderators or yourself) then you have to be prepared for this kind of thing.

    Be thankful this isn't a company threatening you with legal action - something I have been at the end of and I'm talking about some tiny forums with 200 registered members, only about 50 active at the time.