“…..’tis slander, whose edge is sharper than the sword…..” (Shakespeare)
A recent High Court decision confirms the dangers of posting (or even just allowing yourself to be associated with) any form of defamatory content on the Internet.
An explosive mixture
An explosive mixture underlay the case: an acrimonious divorce, on-going litigation still smouldering, and – the spark that lit the fuse – Facebook posts attacking the ex-wife.
Two of the posts, authored by the ex-husband’s new wife and appearing on her Facebook page, were found by the Court to have been defamatory –
- A comment which effectively painted the ex-wife as being meddlesome and interfering, and
- A far more serious comment that implied impropriety relating to a photograph showing the ex-wife’s 16 year old stepson being pelted with a wet sponge by one of her two minor children (a girl of 6 and a boy of 4) in the bathroom. Commenting that “only a depraved mind can see impropriety” in what was obviously a “jovial domestic moment”, the Court held that this second comment was “scandalous to the extreme”, suggesting that the ex-wife “encourages and tolerates sexual deviation, even paedophilia”. The damage to her reputation was compounded by “snide comments” added to the posting by friends of the poster.
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