defamation tort problem solving Watch
Earl Grey MP made a speech in the House of Commons that alleged that Coffecup Plc, a global company, “failed to pay any tax in the UK, most of its staff earned below the minimum wage, and that its claim to be Fairtrade was bogus as its coffee beans were picked by children in third world countries.”
Rubi, a journalist with The News of the Earth newspaper, questioned Earl Grey MP about the issue in a tea shop. Talking loudly so that the whole shop could hear, Earl Grey MP claimed that “Coffecup was swelling its coffers by abusing children, workers and British taxpayers” and that the company’s CEO, Jim Latte, “was more used to filtering cash than coffee to fund his adulterous lifestyle.”
After extensive research, including trips to Central America, The News of the Earth published Rubi’s article under the headline “Avoiding Tax, Abusing Children and Robbing the Baristas”. The article alleged that the Coffecup Plc had such complex tax structures that it paid virtually no tax in the UK, that many of the gourmet coffee beans used by the company were purchased on the black market and had been picked by children working as slaves, and that the company had a policy of not allowing its Baristas to keep tips paid by customers using credit or debit cards. The article also alleged that Jim Latte had had numerous extra-marital affairs.
Mocha, a customer of Coffecup Plc, read the article and was so upset that she created an Anti-Coffecup leaflet that she handed out to people outside her local store. After reading the leaflet a number of customers said that they would take their business elsewhere. Other upset customers have obtained copies of the leaflet and distributed it outside other branches, with similar results.
As a result of the allegations Coffeecup Plc’s share price fell significantly and Jim Latte’s wife has begun divorce proceedings.
Advise Coffecup Plc and Jim Latte as to any action they could take in the tort of defamation.