Businessman sues Guardian over web reference to 1976 strike

The Guardian is being sued for libel by businessman George Ward over a story on its website headed “Attacks on Multicultural Britain pave the way for enforced assimilation”.

He claims the story meant that he and his company were racist towards their Asian employees, and says this has gravely damaged their reputations, and led to embarrassment and distress.

Ward is also seeking aggravated damages, saying that although workers took strike action at Grunwick in 1976, there have never been any findings of racism against him or his company. As he is Anglo Indian, the slur that he is racist, or would permit racist behaviour is deeply offensive and upsetting, he says.

He argues that the Guardian’s response to his letter of claim was “insulting, infuriating and distressing”, and that he has suffered additional upset and worry by the paper’s alleged refusal to apologise for the allegations.

Ward says that the paper has known since 27 June that a previous allegation of racism, in a 1982 programme, was quickly retracted by Channel 4 and should have known of libel actions he has brought since the strike.

He says that he despairs at having to sue again and says the Guardian should have known about legal action he took against the Evening Standard in 1977, and the BBC in 1983 and 1996, when he received damages and statements were made in open court. He also received damages and an apology from the Catholic Herald, the BBC, the Daily Mirror, and most recently, the Sunday Times, he says.

Baroness Shirley Williams and BBC4 apologised and paid damages to him earlier this year, as did solicitors Thompsons, he says.

Ward says publication of the allegations in the Guardian has caused him to worry for his and his family’s safety, and he lives with the constant fear that the consequences of defamatory allegations of racism, which could incite ill-will.

He is anxious for the reputations of the family business, now run by his son, and for the impact on the family’s livelihood.

He fears that unless restrained by injunction, the Guardian will repeat the allegations, and he is seeking damages for alleged libel and an injunction banning repetition of the allegations.

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