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Martin Lewis Agrees Settlement with Facebook over alleged Defamation25th January 2019 Media Law
The consumer finances journalist and TV Presenter Martin Lewis has reportedly settled a defamation action against Facebook.
Martin complained about over 1,000 scam adverts which appeared on the social media network abusing his name and image. The adverts were falsely being portrayed as being endorsed by Martin, aiming to deceive members of the public to invest in scam bitcoin products and other investments.
According to his website moneysavingexpert.com, by way of settlement, Facebook has agreed to donate £3m to a new Citizens Advice project called UK Scams Action Project (CASA), launching in May 2019. The project is designed to tackle scam ads and Facebook will also be launching its own dedicated new scam ads reporting tool within a few months. £500,000-worth of Facebook ads for CASA over the next three years are included in the £3m settlement deal.
When settling defamation complaints, it is not unusual for parties to agree to pay damages and it is open to the parties to be “creative„ regarding the settlement terms. In this case, Martin Lewis and Facebook have sought to mitigate any negative PR and have done something positive for consumers which is to be commended.
So what is defamation?
Defamation involves the publishing of a statement to a third party (or parties) that has caused or is likely to cause serious harm. Statements are “defamatory„ if they would tend to make people think less of the subject, question their ability to do their job, avoid that person or unfairly ridicule them.
In Martin’s case, because he is such a highly respected consumer champion, there was a real risk of consumers being misled and acting as a result of the ads.
Writing on his blog in May last year Martin had said “I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me. One lady had over £100,000 taken from her.„
When considering bringing a defamation complaint, here are some points to consider:
- If posted online, take a screenshot of any defamatory comments
- Act fast! You only have 12 months in which to bring a claim
- Keep a chronology of events/comments
- Consider seeking expert legal advice to take action against those responsible
Each day the Media and Reputation Management department at JMW receives calls from ordinary people who have been the victim of defamation on social media. If you would like to discuss your case, please call the team on 0345 872 6666.
With thanks to Dominic Walker for co-authoring this blog.