Libel Claim: Ibrahim v Swansea University [2012]

Ibrahim v Swansea University [2012] EWHC 290 (QB)

This was a hearing on  the 13th February 2012 before Mr Justice Eady.It was an application by the Defendant Swansea University for an order to strike out the Libel claim or summary judgement.The Claimant was a post graduate student at the university. He began his course in 2009.

He missed two examinations in May 2010 and arranged for his studies to be suspended formally between August of that year and February 2011. He sought a further 6 month suspension from March 2011.

Under the rules of the course it was a requirement that the course had to be completed within 2 years of its commencement. Therefore it was necessary for the Claimant to make a further application for extension. That application was made.

It was considered by the university student cases committee on the 3rd May 2011. The committee refused the extension and it was determined that he be required to withdraw from the course. He was notified by a later of the 9th May 2011.

The judge found that the committee had  taken into account 2 documents in its deliberations. The statement in support of the application and a letter of the 17th March 2010 saying that the person who it related  suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome and anxiety.

It was also said he’d been under the care of a psychiatrist and he’d been on medication sine 2007 as a consequence. The letter detailed that his concentration and his sleep had suffered. He needed extra time to complete his academic tasks. This letter related to someone other then the Claimant although they had similar names.

An appeal was initiated against the decision and it was during that process that the mistake was discovered and the appeal was therefore upheld. The Claimant was met by a representative of the university who apologised and discussed the possibility of him being reinstated but the Claimant refused that offer.

An offer was made to assist him to transfer to another university and to reimburse him the amount of his tuition fees but the offer was not accepted. Proceedings were commenced in November 2011.They included an allegation of defamation.

An order was made requiring the Claimant to clarify his case and as to the defamation allegation set out the words complained of and occasions of publication.

The Claimant did that.

He referred to 3 occasions of publication.

  1. The first publication being that to the committee at  its meeting of the 3rd May 2011.
  2. The second publication to the Claimant itself which was dismissed by the judge
  3. That it had been forwarded to the home office which had been denied by the university and no evidence was produced by the Claimant of such publication.

The judge found that the the publication to himself  and as there was no evidence of publication to the home office those were struck out. As to the publication to the committee the university argued that no one would think worse of someone suffering from mental health difficulties or chronic fatigue.

The judge agreed with that assessment but in any event those communications would be protected by qualified privilege. The judge considered the statement by the school in support of the extension would be but that was not the case for the medical report.

  • “There simply would be no common and corresponding interest in its subject-matter between the Committee members and the person who supplied it through an “administrative error”.”

It was also argued that the case be struck out as an abuse of process  derived from the court of appeals decision in Jameel.

The judge adopted the language used by the court of appeal in Jameel

  • “Accordingly, to adopt the language used by the Court of Appeal in Jameel, “the game is not worth the candle”. “

Finally the Claimant had failed to comply with the masters order  as to further clarification of his claim and the following order was made striking out the libel claim.

  • “Accordingly, I shall grant the relief sought and strike out the relevant statement(s) of case, since (a) no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim have been disclosed; (b) the claim is an abuse of the court’s process; and (c) there has been a failure to comply with the Master’s order.”


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