Posts from the ‘Social Media’ Category
The Irish News sought the comments of one of our Partners, Mark Jackson, in connection with a story it published on 12 September 2013 entitled “Social Media Cases up by 40 per cent”.
See the full story here – Irish News Article – 12 September 2013.
The case of Cruddas -v- Adams serves as an important reminder that defamatory comments made on social media may lead to significant awards of damages.
It is particularly relevant in showing that the amount of damages may be increased considerably when comments are made repeatedly over a prolonged period of time.
On 25 March 2012, the Sunday Times published an article which alleged that Peter Cruddas (at the time Treasurer of the Conservative Party), had, during an undercover meeting, corruptly offered for sale via donations to the Conservative Party, the opportunity to influence Government policy; allegations which were repeated by the Independent on 9 June 2012. Mark Adams (a lobbyist) repeated these allegations and made other inaccurate comments in connection with the issue online through his blogs and on Twitter.
Over the course of several months, Mr Adams repeatedly called for the arrest of Mr Cruddas, and taunted Mr Cruddas for his failure to commence a libel action against him (which he finally did). The comments were made via 12 tweets (Mr Adams had over 700 followers) and in 9 blog posts.
During the course of the proceedings, the Police confirmed that there was no evidence of any criminal conduct on the part of Mr Cruddas, and a full retraction and apology from the Independent followed. A libel claim against the Sunday Times is due to commence in June 2013. After being shown a transcript of the meeting that took place between Mr Cruddas and the Sunday Times journalist, Mr Adams did not continue defending the libel action and ultimately default judgement was entered against him. However, when it came to assessment of damages, he chose not to issue any apology, nor did he withdraw all of the statements that he had made. The Court awarded Mr Cruddas £45,000 in damages, along with costs. Read more
That may seem a rather obvious and common sense statement, but it should always be borne in mind when posting a comment on Twitter in light of the first known decision of its kind in the UK. Cricketer and former New Zealand captain, Chris Cairns, won a libel claim in March 2012 against former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi for defamatory tweets.
In January 2010, Mr Modi tweeted that Mr Cairns had been removed from the IPL auction list (a list of players eligible to play in the league) ‘due to his past record of match fixing’. The tweet was picked up by a cricket website, and Mr Modi repeated his claims to the site.
The judge found that Mr Modi ‘singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Mr Cairns was involved in match fixing’. Read more
In the case of Teggart -v- Tele Tech UK Limited, the Tribunal held that an employee was fairly dismissed because comments which he posted on his Facebook page amounted to harassment of a female colleague and breached the employer’s Dignity at Work Policy.
The claimant was employed at a call centre in Belfast. He posted obscene comments about a female colleague on his Facebook page from home. The comment mentioned his employer’s name and was read by some other work colleagues. It was alleged that the comment had been brought to the employer’s attention by a member of the public. The female colleague heard about the comments and asked the claimant’s girlfriend if he would remove them. However that led the claimant to simply post further comments. Read more
In our last post, Social Media and Employment, we commented that if employers are to implement a social media policy then it needs to fit with their business. We finished off by saying that such a policy needs to be interpreted properly, and that the employer still needs to act reasonably.
We looked at the risks of not having a properly prepared social media policy, and in turn the reasons why employers should have such a policy, in our post Social Media in the workplace – do you have a policy?
However, simply having a policy in place isn’t necessarily going to avoid the risks identified in that post. Employers must still act reasonably in enforcing a policy. The case of Stephens -v- Halfords plc earlier this year demonstrates the point (see xPert HR for the summary) – a Facebook page criticising the employer was not held to justify dismissal. Read more