Largest damages yet for internet libel

Social housing firm and CEO receive total of £119,000

A “malicious, unpleasant and relentless” campaign of libel and harassment against a housing group and its chief executive has resulted in settlement with a payment of £119,000 in damages.


Mr Peter Walls, chief executive and “public face” of Gentoo Group Limited, formerly known as Sunderland Housing Company Ltd, has accepted the sum as settlement of his claims against businessman John Finn and his firm, Pallion Housing Ltd. The Claimants became subject to sustained attacks made upon the website ‘Dads Place’ by a number of anonymous individuals. These defamatory allegations ranged from corruption to nepotism and the promotion of female employees in return for sexual favours, Eady J was told at the High Court yesterday.


Mr Finn and Pallion had repeatedly denied any responsibility for Dads Place, but last October, during the court case to determine whether they were liable in law as publishers, Mr Finn changed his position and admitted responsibility. Earlier this week he agreed to pay £100,000 in compensation to Mr Walls, £14k to other employees and £5k to the firm, along with legal costs, the court heard.


5RB’s Adam Speker (instructed by Carter Ruck) appeared at an earlier interim injunction hearing for Mr Finn and Pallion