THE OCKENDON owner of the website “Solicitors from Hell” has lost a libel court case after a lawyer won damages stemming from malicious and untrue accusations about her were posted on the website by a “cyber stalker”.
The Evening Standard reports that Megan Phillips was the victim of “completely fictitious” derogatory personal and professional remarks left on the Solicitors from Hell site.
More than 50,000 hits were received but the owner of the site refused to remove the comments after Ms Phillips contacted him to say they were “wholly untrue”.
The website claims to get 1.5 million visitors a month. The mission statement on the homepage says it aims to expose lawyers it brands as “shameless, corrupt, money-grabbing, incompetent specimens of humanity”.
The site’s owner, Rick Kordowski, was ordered at the High Court to pay Ms Phillips, who works for Bhatt Murphy Solicitors based in Shoreditch, £17,500 damages for “hurt feelings, distress and injury to her reputation”.
Mr Kordowski, of South Ockendon was also ordered to pay £28,000 legal costs and issued with an injunction forbidding further publication of the allegations on the site.
Guy Vassall-Adams, for Ms Phillips, told the judge the article about her was a “vitriolic attack on her personality and professional competence”.
He added: “It is all completely false and malicious and has the hallmarks of a kind of poison-pen accusation, made under the cloak of anonymity.”
Mr Vassall-Adams told the judge Mr Kordowski was prepared to withdraw the article, but only for an “admin fee” of £299, which Ms Phillips regarded as “extortion” and was not prepared to pay.
Mr Kordowski told the judge he initially had no reason to doubt the allegations, but had recently been told they were posted by a “cyber stalker” and agreed he would have “handled things differently” if he had known this from the start. Mr Vassall-Adams said no attempt had been made to verify the allegations, nor had Ms Phillips been given the chance to respond. Giving evidence, Ms Phillips said: “The language of the post really upset me — it was very vicious.”
She said after the verdict: “I am delighted that there has now been public acknowledgement that the posting was entirely made up and contained no truth whatsoever.”