Here is the solicitor’s letter in full. As in my terms on this site I state that every email is for publication, I’m publishing all correspondence.
Confidential – Not for Publication
Dear Mr Charles
We are a firm of solicitors from England, acting for Mr Barry Vera.
As you may be aware Mr Vera is a professional Chef who previously held the position of Head Chef at the now closed Australian Restaurant ‘VERAS’. Mr Vera now resides and works in the UK.
We are writing in relation to an article published on your website blog tomatom.com (herein ‘your Website’). It is our understanding that the article in question, titled ‘14 ways to tell when a restaurant will close down’ (herein ‘the Article’), was first published on 18th April 2007. Currently a search for ‘Barry Vera’ on either the Google.com or Google.co.uk search engine provides a results page in which the URL to the Article is prominently displayed.
We should make it clear that Mr Vera has no objection to the substantive content of the Article itself, or of your Website in general. As you are no doubt aware, the Article does however contain a comments section where users can anonymously post items. We note that this section is almost entirely made up of statements regarding Mr Vera and, in particular, his involvement with VERAS and a few other establishments. These statements are often phrased in abusive language and constitute a variety of unsubstantiated accusations and allegations, which are entirely refuted by Mr Vera, and are highly damaging to Mr Vera’s reputation as a professional chef. It is our understanding that the comments are likely the result of a mistaken belief as to Mr Vera’s role and involvement at VERAS, and as such are presented as factual information. The comments are in fact, at best conjecture, and at worst a deliberate attempt to direct blame toward Mr Vera who, as head chef, is an easy albeit unjustified target.
Whilst we appreciate the individual(s) making the anonymous comments appear to be genuinely upset, directing their anger at Mr Vera in the manner they have – in lieu of reaching out to Mr Vera (or those actually responsible for the acts complained of) would have been a far more appropriate and legal means by which to seek a resolution to any dispute.
Having considered the comments in detail, we have advised Mr Vera that the content falls foul of English Legislation concerning defamatory statements, and that Mr Vera has a right to have the content removed, and to pursue those responsible through the courts. We have similarly advised that the removal could take place with or without your co-operation.
Clearly Mr Vera has a legitimate interest in protecting himself from defamatory or otherwise untrue statements likely to damage his reputation and livelihood. Mr Vera however has no desire to enter into a protracted and heated dispute with you through the Courts, nor does he wish to interfere with your Website activities. In this instance therefore he is merely seeking a means to have the URL to the Article removed from a search for his name on google.
The simplest way of achieving this would be for you to either remove the offending comments from your Website yourself, or otherwise to provide your consent to Google removing the URL from the result page for a search for Barry Vera. We request that you respond to this email by no later than 16:00 (GMT) on Friday, 9th January 2015, confirming your willingness to assist in this matter.
Should we not receive such a response Mr Vera will have little alternative but to take further action, including the instruction of Australian Solicitors and contacting your Internet Service Provider.
Should you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Hansel Henson Limited
4th Floor, 22 Newman Street, London W1T 1PH
Tel (+44) (0)20 7307 5106
This e-mail and the information it contains are confidential and may be privileged. if you have received this email in error we ask you please notify us as soon as possible.
‘Hansel Henson’ is the trading name of Hansel Henson Limited, which is a limited liability company registered in England and Wales with registered number 8938624. Its registered office is at 4th Floor, 22 Newman Street, London W1T 1PH and its partners are David A. Hansel and Thomas M Henson. The term “partner” is used by us to denote a shareholder and director of Hansel Henson Limited which is a firm of solicitors authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.