Posts tagged ‘Twitter’
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
Following on from our last post about social media in the workplace, it is worth noting that Symantec, a global provider of IT security software, has recently published the results of its 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll, which was used to determine how businesses protect themselves from the negative consequences of using social media.
It found that 46% of companies have encountered employees sharing too much information in public forums and that 90% of respondents who had experienced a “social media incident” suffered negative consequences including damaged reputation, loss of customer trust and litigation costs. So, as the popularity of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook continues to rise (see our retweet @thompsons_law from @utv today – bit.ly/pJ9UJV), how can employers ensure that they minimise the risks presented by employees’ use of social media?
The answer? Implement a social media policy that fits with your business.
However you’ll need to make sure that you interpret it properly and act reasonably if it’s breached – more on that to follow soon…