Facebook Defamation Case Involving a Podiatrist

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Defamation is when there is a communication of a false statement which harms the reputation of a person or company.

In January 2017 a judge ordered that a neighbor pay €30,000 to the Podiatrist, Patricia Barnett from Buncrana, Ireland and her husband over defamatory posts that were made about them in February 2015. The posts were false and damaged the reputation of the couple. Some of the posts were on Patricia Barnet’s business Facebook page.

The Irish Times reported:

Mr Downes, who did not appear in court, admitted the action and had agreed to apologise unreservedly to the couple.
Mrs Barnett, a podiatrist, told the court that she barely knew Mr Downes and knew of no reason why he would have posted a number of attacks against her on her private and business Facebook pages.
The court heard how Mr Downes accused Ms Barnett’s husband, of The Crescent, Buncrana, of having an affair with another woman and also referred to her as being overweight saying that her exercise regime was not working.

In the apology Mr Downes accepted responsibility for the posting of comments which “ were irresponsible and false” and he apologised for the “unjust” attack on their reputation and the “nasty nature” of comments. He was “ashamed and embarrassed” by the harm caused.
“I have no rational explanation for the posting of the comments. I borne some ill will of grudge to these people and that ill will was taken out by posting the remarks on Facebook,” the apology said.
Judge James O’Donoghue described the posts as “scurrilous and reckless.”
“The court is satisfied that both were wronged and their names seriously sullied,” said the Judge.

As at February 2017 the Office of Public Prosecution were also preparing a criminal case of harassment.

Update 8 June 2017:
Mr Downes appeared in court for the criminal case and again apologized for his behavior. He will appear in court again on October 12.

He added: “I have apologised in every way possible but I still want to apologise here today. What I done is unbelievable and it will never happen again.”
He said that he had not encountered his neighbours since the incident but assured the court he would treat them with respect if he did. Source

External Links:
Podiatrist Wins Defamation Case for Facebook post (Podiatry Arena)

Page last updated: @ 4:59 am

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