In a decision which proves that the courts do not shy away from hitting wrong-doers in the pocket, a man who embarked upon a greed-driven campaign of blackmail, extortion and defamation against his brother-in-law – a prominent businessman – has been ordered to pay him £120,000 compensation.
In a series of eight libellous or slanderous communications, the man had sought to blackmail his brother-in-law and wreck his good name in order to extort money from him. In making a series of wholly untrue allegations, which the Court found that no rational person would have believed, the man had accused his relative of being a paedophile and various forms of financial impropriety.
The harassment of the businessman and the groundless defamatory statements had caused him ‘great hurt and distress’. The allegations of dishonesty in respect of financial matters had also gone to the heart of his professional career in finance. Although the statements were published to a relatively small number of recipients, there were many aggravating features in the case which the Court found was ‘particularly grave’.
The businessman was awarded £100,000 in compensatory damages and £20,000 in aggravated damages. His brother-in-law was also ordered to pay the very substantial legal costs of the case. Given the element of blackmail in the matter, the Court ordered that the businessman should not be identified in any reports of the case.