01 December 2023

Sir James Dyson is the founder and chairman of Dyson and a columnist wrote that he was “the vacuum-cleaner tycoon who championed Vote Leave due to the economic opportunities it would bring to British industry before moving his global head office to Singapore”. Dyson described the article published last year as a “personal attack on all that I have done and achieved in my lifetime” and said it was “highly distressing and hurtful”.

Defamation: What is it? Defamation is when someone says something about another person and that statement damages that person’s reputation. The form of communication must be permanent, for example a publication in a newspaper, like the Daily Mail. Dyson stated that being accused to be a hypocrite who has “screwed the country” who was setting an ill example to the younger generation was “harmful to his reputation”. Dyson argued that his decision to have global headquarters was not regarding Dyson’s commitment to the UK nor the corporation tax.

The Daily mail defended against Dyson’s defamation claim. They used the defence of honest opinion. The defence succeeded and the Judge dismissed Dyson’s claim finding that Dyson did not suffer serious harm to his reputation. Dyson did not suffer financial loss as a result of the publications by the Daily Mail and nor was his philanthropic work for young children harmed.

Defamation is a potentially career-damaging offence that you or your company may encounter. You might be able to file an action for defamation if something that was said or written about you led to you suffering—for example, losing a significant contract or your job.

What this case highlights is that, in order to succeed, it is important to demonstrate serious harm, which in the case of a business must be serious financial harm. This will differ case to case.

We have dealt with several such cases on behalf of our clients, one of which involved our client’s competitor distributing false information about our client’s operations in an attempt to take our client’s clientele.

If you think that you or your business has been defamed and you are under significant distress and there is damage to either reputation and would like some advice, please feel free to get in touch with us by telephone 01273 447 065, or click here to fill out an enquiry form.

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