Football club's solicitor in successful libel claim

Judith Thompson

The in house solicitor for Blackpool Football Club, Graham Woodward, was described as having been “struck off” on the fansonline web forum.  The Defendant, Andrew Gryce, estimated that fewer than 50 people would have read the post, and also argued that because Woodward worked in house for Blackpool Football Club, there was no chance of him losing any clients as a result of the defamatory statements.

However, the Judge found in favour of Mr Woodward, and ordered Mr Gryce to pay him £18,000 in damages.  The Judge rejected the Defendant’s arguments that what he had said was “mere saloon talk made tongue in cheek”.

This judgment highlights again the importance of considering very carefully what you post online, and whether what you are saying is true or not.  Defendants often believe that if what they are saying is a joke, this would be enough to circumvent a claim for libel.  However, this is clearly not the case and the football fan who posted the flippant statement about the football club’s Solicitor, will have to pay not only £18,000 in damages, but also the Solicitor’s legal fees.

Judith Thompson, litigation partner at Samuels Solicitors with a specialisation in defamation claims, says: “once again, Judges have dismissed a defence which tries to play down the seriousness of a defamatory comment. It is important for users of social media to understand that posting material which is untrue, which can harm somebody’s reputation, could well mean they find themselves being sued for defamation.”

Samuels Solicitors has a niche specialism dealing with online defamation claims, and wherever possible we will assist clients on a Conditional (no win no fee) Agreement. 

If you have had your reputation damaged by a comment online, contact us today for a free discussion about how we can help.