Kim Suttle v. Samantha Walker

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Claim for defamation for posting a false video on a Facebook page with allegations of animal abuse

Kim Suttle v. Samantha Walker
[2019] EWHC 396 (QB)
In the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division
Case Number HQ18M03611
Before Justice Nicklin
Decided on January 18, 2019

Relevancy of the Case: Claim for defamation for posting a false video on a Facebook page with allegations of animal abuse

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Harassment Act 1997
  • The Civil Procedure Rules 1998 (Section 12.11(1))
  • The Data Protection Act 1998

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The claimant is a care home manager from West Yorkshire. She owns and keeps pets, has also adopted rescue dogs, and supports animal welfare charities.
  • The defendant is the creator and administrator of a Facebook Page titled “Justice for animals brutally abused and attacked UK”.
  • The claimant encountered the defendant while walking with one of her dogs. The defendant alleged that she had hit her dog. Despite her objections, the defendant recorded the incident. Concerned with this, she reported the matter to the police.
  • Subsequently, the claimant’s friend informed her that the defendant had posted two videos on the Facebook page alleging animal abuse on March 24, 2018.
  • The defendant published nine posts on the Facebook page between March 24, 2018, and April 14, 2018. The claimant claims that these posts contain libel and they have harassed her. She further claims that these posts violate the Data Protection Act 1998.

Prominent Arguments by the Counsels

  • The claimant’s counsel argued that the abuse was not limited to false allegations of animal abuse. It also led to the termination of her position as a manager at the care home. The counsel advocated for a single award of damages that reflect the totality of the damage and distress suffered by her due to libel and harassment. The evidentiary video does not show any abuse of the dog.
  • The defendant’s counsel submitted that the claimant engaged in a gruesome act of animal abuse by hitting her dog. The defendant has recorded this incident on her mobile phone and submitted the same as evidence.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The defendant’s video was not an accurate and fair representation of their animal cruelty claim. The allegations of animal abuse have caused personal and professional harm to the claimant.
  • The defendant also failed to file any evidence and application. Moreover, she did not follow the police order to not upload any further videos against the claimant.

Final Decision

  • The court passed an order in the claimant’s favour and granted relief.

Khilansha Mukhija, an undergraduate student at the Institute of Law, Nirma University Ahmedabad, and Yagyanseni Acharya, an undergraduate student at VIT School of Law, Chennai, prepared this case summary during their internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2024.