February 14, 2008
Pharmacist loses slander action
Jury find against Claimant as dispute at Sikh Temple reaches conclusion
A Birmingham pharmacist has failed in the slander claim he had brought against a fellow member of his Sikh Community Centre.
The two men were members of the Ravidassia Sikh Community Centre in Darlaston, Birmingham. At a meeting of the Community Centre’s members, Mr RK Mehmi had accused the Claimant, Mr Sarwan Samrai, of wrongly depriving the Community Centre of land located next door to the centre. Mr Samrai sued Mr Mehmi for slander.
Mr Samrai had bought the land in 2000 in order to open a Pharmacist’s. The community centre had previously registered an interest in buying it. Mr Samrai did not inform the community centre of his intention to buy the land.
Prior to the commencement of the trial, which took place before a jury at the Birmingham District Registry, Deputy High Court Judge Richard Parkes QC held that Mr Mehmi’s qualified privilege defence was made out. Thus in order for the jury to find in Mr Samrai’s favour he had to prove to the jury that Mr Mehmi had been motivated by malice in uttering the words complained of. Mr Mehmi also raised a defence of justification.
The jury found in Mr Mehmi’s favour. As they were merely asked for which party they found, it is not known on what basis they reached their conclusion.