A former Conservative council candidate is suing The Guardian for unlimited damages after it accused him of being part of a Facebook group describing women as “slags”.
The Guardian was following up a London Evening Standard investigation, which claimed that Payam Tamiz had resigned from the party because of its revelation.
The Standard later apologised, accepting Tamiz’s assurances that he had not been part of this group.
According to the claim form, The Guardian republished the allegations (before the Standard apology) in a “cowardly and unprofessional” manner – without contacting Tamiz to verify the story.
The Standard story said that Tamiz had stood down as a candidate for Thanet after being exposed as a member of the Facebook group, “Girls in THANET… you are slags, hoes, brasses and bheads”.
It also highlighted a comment allegedly made by Tamiz saying: “Girls who comment under facebook pics boasting to their slutty friends about guys they’ve f***** and had one-night stands with are as low as they come.”
Published shortly before the council election on 5 May 2011, the article said Tamiz had resigned but quoted a party source as saying he would have been expelled anyway.
The Guardian then “repeated the defamatory and inaccurate allegations” on its website, linking to the Standard story.
Tamiz claims The Guardian was wrong to infer that he had been a member of the group, that he was a “secret misogynist” and that the Tories would have expelled him.
He has said of comments made on his Facebook page in the past that he had “never intended those references to be interpreted as an unfair generalisation”.
The allegations were referred to in three separate Guardian articles. The defamatory references were removed after “protracted negotiations” between August and October 2011, highlighting that “incorrect” accusations were made.
However, despite offering a clarification on its website, The Guardian has never made a formal apology and Tamiz claims no “amicable settlement” was agreed.
A Guardian spokesperson said: “Payam Tamiz has served a claim on Guardian News & Media for defamation. GNM is intending to defend the claim.”