Reports this weekend say Everards the brewery took the decision to temporarily close Leicester Pub ‘The Globe’ after its staff became targeted by angry customers and the public at large following reports on Facebook that military personnel were banned from its premises. Both Everards and The Globe’s staff insist the comments are untrue but have no idea of their foundation or source.
Social media site Facebook seems to be the origin and the posts were picked up by a national blog and word spread quickly, so much so that Leicestershire Police began sending tweets on Twitter to quash the rumour as untrue. I understand Leicestershire Police will be investigating the source of the original Facebook posts.
Criminal action under the Communications Act may follow. In terms of the civil law, Everards could explore a damages claim against the author of the posts using legislation under the Defamation Act. If so, it will need to act reasonably swiftly in that it must resolve its claim or issue court proceedings within 1 year of the posts going live. From the limited information available as at 19 August 2013 it seems to me the claim has merit as loss has been caused arising out of the Facebook posts and if the author knew the material to be incorrect, he may find himself named as Defendant in High Court proceedings.
At Edward Hands & Lewis we will monitor the story as it develops to comment further if court proceedings are issued but first the Claimant (Everards) must await the outcome of a Police investigation to determine who posted the comments initially.