Peter Turvey and his son Philip Turvey, directors of leading genealogical research company, Anglia Research, have received £40,000 in damages following their libel success against rival firm Finders International and its Managing Director, Daniel Curran.
The High Court heard a statement in open court read by William McCormick QC, leading counsel for the Turveys, which outlined the false and defamatory allegations made by Finders International and Daniel Curran.
The Turveys brought the action in 2016 after an anonymous well-wisher provided them with copies of defamatory emails seemingly sent by or on Mr Curran’s behalf to various third parties.
The emails falsely claimed, among other things, that the Turveys had run an abusive Twitter account which posted pictures taken unlawfully from the social media accounts of Finders’ staff. They falsely suggested the account had “followed” Mr Curran’s daughter’s primary school Twitter feed.
The emails also falsely claimed that Anglia Research had made a fraudulent claim for an estate of about £1m.
When contacted by the Turveys’ lawyers, Mr Curran admitted writing the emails, but he said they had never actually been sent out to the recipients. He said they were only ever in draft form either for checking by his assistant, or sent to himself as a reminder to send at some later time. Finders’ IT department produced an IT report which purported to support Curran’s claim that the emails hadn’t in fact ever left Finders’ system.
Given his history of attacking Anglia online, the Turveys were highly suspicious of Mr Curran’s explanation, so they secured a Court-ordered forensic examination of Finders’ IT systems. Despite Mr Curran having earlier given assurances that they would preserve all evidence, it then transpired that Finders had allowed the routine purging (deletion) of its IT back-up, thwarting any chances of finding evidence on their system.
That is where the trail, and the Turveys’ determination to obtain justice, may have ended, were it not for a final twist in the tale. In 2018, Anglia once again received an anonymous tip-off and package of emails, which appeared to prove that despite Finders’ denials, the offending emails had indeed been sent to third parties.
Evidence also emerged that Finders’ external sales representatives (and the recipients of the offending emails) had been instructed to delete all their emails received from Finders before May 2018, on the pretext of data protection requirements, but at a time when Finders knew Anglia were in the process of contacting the third parties to ask about the emails.
As Mr McCormick QC told the court, without the assistance of the unknown whistleblower in 2018, the Turveys may never have discovered conduct which bore, as the statement in open Court put it, “all the hallmarks of a serious attempt to pervert the course of justice.”
To this day, Mr Curran and Finders have still not been willing to admit their wrongdoing and have continued to deny liability for the emails. And yet, faced with the prospect of a trial, they eventually offered to pay very substantial damages – and a very significant contribution to the Turveys’ costs – over the publication of emails they say they never sent.
This is the second time Finders and Mr Curran have had to pay out very substantial sums to settle a libel claim. In October 2016, they made a payment to a charity of Philip Turvey’s choosing in lieu of damages over various publications including online statements made under a false name. On that occasion they apologised to Mr Turvey and paid costs.
Philip Turvey said: “We are pleased that the proceedings are concluded with the statement in open Court and that a settlement has been reached. This was never about a few emails. As ethical practitioners Anglia, my father and I could not simply allow Mr Curran and Finders to get away with treating us, the Court system and justice with such contempt. We’re glad this matter has finally been resolved.“
Philip Turvey and Peter Turvey are advised by Adam Tudor and Dominic Garner of Carter-Ruck.
Read the Statement in open Court here.
Article by The Law Society Gazette.
Article by The Times (paywall).
Article by Mail Online.