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oh FFS. Potentially being sued for libel (sorry, long & boring)

(35 Posts)
geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 13:54:41

I posted a while ago in the MN gardening section about the tainted garden manure issue... dh posted on a gardening site about it, using his real namehmm. Here's his post:

"We have the aminopyralid problem and definitely from XXXXXXXXX Farmyard Manure. We have two raised beds and had enough local manure to do one, and bought the XXXXXXXX for the other. Even though the local manure bed is doing really well, the XXXXXXXX bed had about half the plants die in the first week or two, and the survivors are small with cupped curled leaves. Even weeds aren't growing well in the XXXXXXXX's bed. I've done nothing different between the two beds beside the local/XXXXXXXX manure and there are different crops, but the health difference is staggering. I've not read any other reports of bagged manure being a problem so I hope this highlights the problem. We've contacted XXXXXXXX who were unaware of the problem but asked to have the manure bag sent to them (which we still have). This is a big problem not only for those of us with affected crops but surely there's a health risk from the animals that have produced the manure?"

Well, I've just had someone here from company XXXXXXXX asking for permission to get a soil sample, which I happily let him do - thinking that they are trying to get to the bottom of the contamination issue. As he was getting the sample he mentioned that they're doing this because dh had posted comments online that they think are libellous shock

He went off with the soil sample. Dh says I shouldn't have let him take it seeing he just threatened us. I thought it would better to show goodwill hmm (am always showing good-bloody-will and yes it doesn't always work out)
Dh has emailed the site he posted on and asked for his posting to be removed, but I'm bloody stressed out now about the whole thing. What will happen???? I feel really sick about it all.

Cod Mon 14-Jul-08 13:55:38

Message withdrawn

Cod Mon 14-Jul-08 13:56:16

Message withdrawn

PrettyCandles Mon 14-Jul-08 13:57:37

Do you have legal assistance as part of your household insurance? You could try phoning them for advice. Though I suspect MN Towers will be very knowledgeable about this sort of thign.

yorkshirepudding Mon 14-Jul-08 13:57:49

Message withdrawn

PinkChick Mon 14-Jul-08 13:57:53

he wasnt accusing them or saying they HAD put something in the soil, he was saying the soil affected was that covered in this compost and here are the differences, also stating he has contacted said company..he hasnt said dont got to X they sell dodgy compost

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 13:58:22

actually feel like never buying any of their fecking fertiliser products ever again angry

dh is obv. not Alan Titchmarsh, so what if his beans don't grow and he reckons it's the manure? It's not as if he's going to single-handedly bring down the UK's largest gardening chemicals & co manufacturer with that post angry

PrettyCandles Mon 14-Jul-08 13:59:31

It occurs to me that you ought to get soil samples and manure samples from all parts of your garden, before there is any chance of cross-contamination, in case you have to have your own analyses done.

FioFio Mon 14-Jul-08 14:00:31

Message withdrawn

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 14:00:53

I'm sure we'll have legal assistance with something or other hmm need to check.
FFS.angry As if I haven't got enough on.

HumphreyCushioni Mon 14-Jul-08 14:01:17

Isn't your DH just stating facts?
If the suppliers start getting funny about it, is there somewhere where you could get independent tests carried out on the soil?

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 14:01:42

apparently that chemical can't even found in the soil it contaminates so there's not even any point in doing soil tests

Wankers angry

donnie Mon 14-Jul-08 14:02:31

speaking as a non-legal eagle, the post does not seem remotely libellous to me.They are trying it on IMO.

SueW Mon 14-Jul-08 14:02:43

Is is related to this:

www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

theinsider Mon 14-Jul-08 14:03:20

Judging by what I'v read on here recently isn't it the website who are held responsible for publishing your dh's comments?

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 14:03:22

that's what I think, Humphrey. It's not worded in the most careful way, but he's hardly blaming them directly (and neither of us ever even thought they were to blame - nobody really knew this was a problem until people's crops failed this year).

Hecate Mon 14-Jul-08 14:03:34

He was giving his opinion of a product based on his experience. hmm surely libel is saying something that is damaging and untrue.

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 14:03:51

yes, Sue! that's the stuff...

SueW Mon 14-Jul-08 14:05:24

So how is what he's said libellous if they have co=operated with an article in the GUardian that names them?

!!

HumphreyCushioni Mon 14-Jul-08 14:06:42

Aha!
<<insists SueW changes her username to Miss Marple>>
grin

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 14:07:04

no, it doesn't name the manure manufacturer, just the manufacturer of this weedkiller that's got into the grass-cowshit-manure-veggiebed cycle.

theinsider Mon 14-Jul-08 14:09:53

I can see this must be very scary, I'm afraid my knowledge of libel laws is fairly minimal.

However in terms of public relations, if there's already been some documented problems and the company then sues the "little man" (if you excuse me describing your dh thus grin ) for discussing it on a website then they're gonna look like a very nasty bunch of people. I'm sure it'll never happen. But that's not to say I don't feel for you, it must be very worrying.

SueW Mon 14-Jul-08 14:22:36

Oh sorry, not quite the answer you were looking for then.

A related article explains more about the chain and whether the farmer supply the manure should be held to blame:

blogs.guardian.co.uk/food/2008/06/mutant_vegetables_whos_to_blam.html and lots and lots of comment afterwards.

heavenstobetsy Mon 14-Jul-08 14:26:21

whilst is mainly the websites who are sued because they have deeper pockets, I am afraid individual posters are liable for any defamation arising from posts they make. You are guilty of defamation if comments you make alter the standing of XXX in the mind of a reasonable person. In this case, your DH stated that the problem he has has definitely arisen from using XXX product. if this isn't correct, then his comments are libelous. HOWEVER, I would be really surprised if any action was actually taken against you - XXX will really just want the comments removed from public display, which has happened (I assume since you asked the site to take down the post). XXX would also have to show that they have been damaged by your comments and given the participation in the guardian article it is hard to see how one comment from an individual on a web site could have more impact. try not to worry, I would suspect this is just bullying, but speak to your household insurers to see if you have any legal costs cover which could help if XXX don't back off.

geekgirl Mon 14-Jul-08 14:31:13

just to clarify - I'm not talking about Dow (the company who are talked about in the guardian). They make weedkillers etc. for farmers, not little sacks of manure for people growing their own veg.
The company our manure was from is not mentioned in the articles.

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