Malcolm Hurlston has won a legal complaint against the Mail on Sunday. As well as apologising through a Statement in Open Court and publishing a report of it, the Mail on Sunday has agreed to pay substantial damages to Mr Hurlston.

Statement in Open Court

Malcolm Hurlston and Associated Newspapers Limited (5 December 2008)

Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord, I appear on behalf of the Claimant, Malcolm Hurlston, the Chairman and founder of the charity, Foundation for Credit Counselling, which operates the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS). My friend appears on behalf of the Defendant, Associated Newspapers Limited, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and the website.

On 31 December 2007, the Defendant published an article under the heading ‘Charity Boss Reaps Profits from Debt Misery’. The article was also published on the Defendant’s website. In the article, the Defendant alleged that the Claimant was “reaping profits” and “cashing in” on the misery of CCCS’s desperate debt ridden clients. The article also suggested that CCCS may have been inappropriately advising some of those seeking assistance from it to enter into Individual Voluntary Arrangements.

As the Defendant now accepts, these allegations were wholly untrue.

In fact, far from profiting from CCCS, the Claimant has never been paid for his time working for the charity. Furthermore, between 1991 and until 2003, the Claimant donated the time spent by employees of his consultancy, Malcolm Hurlston Corporate Consultancy (MHCC) working for the charity. During this twelve year period, in addition to the Claimant, several MHCC staff worked for the charity, although they remained employed by MHCC. It was only in 2004, by which time the charity was well-established, that it was decided by the Chief Executive of CCCS, with the support of the trustees of CCCS, that MHCC should, from then on, be paid for the time spent by its employees, although not that of the Claimant, in working for CCCS in future years. These proposals were drawn up by CCCS’ audit committee and formally approved by the Charity Commissioners before being implemented. The Claimant played no part in this decision. The reality of the payment plan is that MHCC receives payment designed to recover some of its costs only and does not profit from this arrangement.

With regard to CCCS, it always seeks to give best advice to its clients and believes that it has done so very successfully for the last 17 years.

The allegations published by the Defendant have caused the Claimant considerable distress and embarrassment and also damaged the reputation of the CCCS.

The Defendant is now here today publicly to apologise to the Claimant for publishing the allegations. It has agreed to pay a substantial sum in damages to him, to publish a report of this statement in the Mail on Sunday and on the website and to pay the Claimant’s legal costs. On this basis, the Claimant is prepared to let the matter rest.

Counsel for the Defendant
My Lord, I confirm what my friend has said. The Defendant withdraws the allegations in question and apologises to the Claimant for the damage these allegations have caused.

Solicitor for the Claimant
My Lord, it only remains for me to ask for the record to be withdrawn.

Antonia Foster – Carter-Ruck
on behalf of the Claimant

Adam Cannon – Associated Newspapers Limited
on behalf of the Defendant

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