Defendant in 'Dad's Place' web libel claim to face trial
Stephen Hanratty, the Defendant in a libel claim brought by Gentoo Group and its CEO Peter Walls, has been denied permission to appeal against the ruling of Eady J that the limitation period be disapplied and that the claim was not an abuse of process.
Gentoo, formerly known as Sunderland Housing Co Ltd, brought a libel claim in July 2006 in respect of defamatory comments posted on a website known as ‘Dad’s Place’ against a number of defendants it believed to be responsible for the website, eventually settling for more than £100,000 in damages. Proceedings were not pursued against Mr Hanratty after he had unequivocally denied any relevant knowledge or personal involvement in a statement verified by a statement of truth. However, evidence subsequently obtained by means of Norwich Pharmacal orders against third parties led the Claimants to bring a claim against Mr Hanratty after all. In April of this year Eady J held that the limitation period should be disapplied and that the claim was not, as the Defendant claimed, an abuse of process.
Refusing permission to appeal today, Lady Justice Smith held that the evidence suggesting Mr Hanratty had lied in a witness statement verified by a statement of truth affected his whole credibility and made it very difficult to argue that there was no case against him.