Sir James Dyson and his wife have received a £100,000 payout from the publishers of the Daily Mail after it ran a “false and harmful” article about a legal dispute with their former housekeeper
The tech entrepreneur and Lady Deirdre Dyson – who topped this year’s Sunday Times Rich List – have donated the sum from Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) to a rare skin condition charity.
The claim followed an article published on July 13 2019, which said the couple had brought malicious High Court proceedings against their former employee after she sued them for unfair dismissal.
Sir James and Lady Dyson’s civil proceedings actually preceded the housekeeper’s employment tribunal claim.
The High Court heard on Thursday that on November 8 2018, the High Court granted an order compelling the housekeeper to return the couple’s private and confidential information.
In a statement, the Dysons’ solicitor Rachel Atkins said the information, including medical records, had been “taken and retained without their consent”.
Ms Atkins added: “The claimants funded substantial elements of the process to help her comply with the High Court order.”
The housekeeper’s subsequent employment tribunal claim was struck out because she failed to actively pursue it, despite receiving a warning to do so, the High Court heard.
Ms Atkins said this had been explained to the Daily Mail, but was not reflected in the reporting.
“The claimants were extremely upset and distressed by the defendant’s behaviour and the resulting allegations,” Ms Atkins said.
“They were false, harmful, and simply not true.”
The court heard that the Mail had not removed the article from its site until July 19 last year, despite being contacted by the couple’s lawyers on the day of publication.
They were told it was a “temporary suspension”, at which point Sir James and Lady Dyson began libel proceedings against ANL.
After losing a preliminary issue trial in January this year, and being refused permission to appeal by the High Court and the Court of Appeal, ANL ran a three-sentence apology in the Daily Mail’s clarifications and corrections column in November.
“The claimants had little option but to accept the offer of amends even though the Daily Mail’s apology which followed was wholly inadequate, in their view,” Ms Atkins said.
The couple will donate the £100,000 payout to Cure EB, a charity funding research into a cure for the skin condition epidermolysis bullosa.
The rare genetic disease, which affects about 5,000 people in the UK, causes painful blistering of the skin from the lightest friction, leaving sufferers in constant pain.
Sir James and Lady Dyson will match the sum received from the libel claim with an additional £100,000 of their own, they said in a statement.