• U.K. Businessman Gets Record Award for Online Libel
  • May 7, 2008
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • In one of the first cases in the U.K. arising from Internet harassment by a competitor, real estate developer Peter Walls has won close to $200,000 for defamation by people using a Web site created by Walls’ business rival.

    According to court testimony, Peter Walls, 55, his family, and 30 staff members were subjected to “vicious and unpleasant anonymous, defamatory attacks.”

    The two-year crusade began in April 2004 when Walls’ rival John Finn launched a Web site called “Dad’s Place” through his company, Pallion Housing Ltd. Others then used the site, its anonymous forums, and newsletters to post vicious lies about Walls, including that he was a pedophile, corrupt, employed hitmen, and sexually harassed and bullied staff. The movements of Walls and his family were also tracked online every day.  Finn also made extensive efforts to make the site known, according to court testimony.

    Walls told the court that he believed Finn, a housing landlord, started the campaign to blackmail Walls to pay a higher price for houses Finn was selling.

    In addition to the 100,000 pounds ($198,700) awarded on April 3, 2008,
    Walls’ company, Gentoo Group Ltd., and several other unnamed people had already received close to 20,000 pounds in damages stemming from the harassment campaign.