Treasurer’s statement about “dodgy receipts” was defamatory

The High Court has found that a statement by the treasurer of an unincorporated association about the former president of the association, was defamatory.

The former president, while he was president, had been given £2500 to donate to a medical mission in Nigeria. He paid it via his UK and Nigerian bank accounts. The treasurer was concerned about deficiencies in the receipts and sent a statement to 15 association members and elders which said that the president had provided “dodgy receipts” and stated that “the receipts were forged”.

The treasurer failed to prove that the receipts were forgeries. He had reasonable grounds for believing that the documents were forgeries, and had been honest in that belief, but for the defence of honest opinion he had to establish that the words complained of had been a statement of opinion, rather than fact.

He was unable to do this and the court awarded damages of £2,000.

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