Businessman awarded £7,500 for twitter campaign

£500,000 malicious falsehood claim struck out

A racing tipster has been awarded £7,500 damages for a large number of defamatory allegations which were tweeted to several hundred people.

In October 2011 a group of owners, trainers and tipsters from Yorkshire were collectively accused of corruption in racing on Twitter by a young William Hill retail employee called Toby Pedley and an associate who goes by the Twitter name of TracksuitDave1. Those accused had ever heard of Pedley or TracksuitDave1 but one of them, Carl Harris, complained to William Hill that the allegations were defamatory and it was unclear in the circumstances if the statements were being made with any association with William Hill or not, as William Hill was specifically identified on the twitter account. William Hill dismissed Mr Pedley following an internal disciplinary procedure for gross misconduct.

Toby Pedley sued Carl Harris in 2012 for £500,000 in a civil action for malicious falsehood in Leeds High Court and in the meantime sustained his allegations of corruption in racing against Carl Harris in a prolific number of tweets. Carl Harris counterclaimed in libel.

The malicious falsehood claim was struck out in October 2012 on a summary judgment application for the principal reason that the loss to Mr Pedley came about through his own actions of allowing his employer’s name to be associated with his prolific defamatory tweeting, rather than the initial complaint to his employer.

At a second hearing in January HHJ Gosnell summarily disposed of the counterclaim in Carl Harris’ favour, ruling that the allegations of corruption were not “comments” based on facts which had been proved, and awarded Mr Harris £7,500 damages for the dozen or so tweets which had accused Mr Harris of foul play and an injunction to prevent the repetition.

David Hirst was instructed by Harrowells LLP, York for Carl Harris.