BRAIN FOOD: Workplace rights - Secrets and libels

BRAIN FOOD: Workplace rights - Secrets and libels - It's bad enough if your business falls foul of a cyber-smear, but worse if your critics hide their identities. Totalise plc had this problem when it was the subject of slurs posted by a visitor to Motley

by IAN JEFFREY, a partner of Lewis Silkin Solicitors, e-mail:jeffrey@lewissilkin.com
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It's bad enough if your business falls foul of a cyber-smear, but worse if your critics hide their identities. Totalise plc had this problem when it was the subject of slurs posted by a visitor to Motley Fool, the investment web site. Only the Fool knew the joker's identity and Totalise demanded details. A stand-off followed, with the operator claiming that privacy rules prevented disclosure. When further attacks were posted, Totalise sued for disclosure and his Lordship ruled in its favour.

But libel is not a one-way street. Spare a thought for the woman who opened the paper to see an advertisement for a decidedly saucy web site, featuring what could have been her twin. Her complaint that friends and family would be shocked by her new career was rejected on the basis that publishers had rights too and should not have to take responsibility for lookalike libels. A model judgment, to be sure

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