Line dancing libel.
Line-dancing teacher and former Chartered Accountant, now retired, Val Myers ran his own dancing club in Harrow, Middlesex called A-B Coasters and had done so since 2004. He had won awards in line-dancing and had established a reputation, being widely known in line-dancing circles.
Sandra Ong, another line-dancing teacher ran her own club called Saint-In-Line. She accused Mr Myers of “vindictively” trying to interfere with the operation of her club and accordingly sent by e-mail in May 2013 those accusations to the Best West Dance Academy (BWDA) where Mr Myers gained his qualification. She requested he be removed from his post as their area representative for the County and consequently the BWDA suspended him from that post.
Mr Myer’s Counsel, Chloe Strong, told Mr Justice Tugendhat that Mrs Ong had “accused Mr. Myers of harassing and haranguing members of the line-dancing community”. After his suspension by the BWDA, his Counsel told the Court that the “entirely false” allegations caused Mr Myers “reputational harm, distress, humiliation and embarrassment”.
Mr Myers had asked Mrs Ong not to come to the classes he ran anymore as he was concerned she was promoting her own line-dancing club whilst attending his lessons. It was after this incident that Mrs Ong sent the e-mail.
She withdrew all the allegations she had made, unreservedly and at the same time made a promise not to repeat them, made an apology for the damage caused to Mr Myers and paid his reasonable legal costs in respect thereof.
The month before this case a friend of Mrs Ong, Jennifer Ryce, made “serious allegations” to the BWDA about Mr Myers saying that “he has persistently bullied, harassed and intimidated” her and other club members in the line-dancing club “creating an atmosphere of fear for participants and, in so doing, abusing his position of trust as a teacher”. She had alleged, that she and Mrs Ong, falsely, been subjected “to a sustained and traumatising campaign of emotional torment over a period of some 17 months, which involved him in spreading slanderous lies about the pair” and both women made false claims that Mr Myers had assaulted Mrs Ryce.
Mrs Ryce likewise agreed to apologise, not to repeat the allegations and pay Mr Myer’s legal costs.
Mr Myer’s Solicitor, Ian Wilson, commented once the case was over:
“The allegations were serious and included a complaint that Mr Myers had physically assaulted Ms Ryce. They were taken as being credible and Mr Myers was suspended from the BWDA.
“The false allegations damaged Mr Myers’ reputation in a field and vocation about which he cares dearly and in which he is a well-known figure. They have caused him a considerable amount of distress and humiliation.
“Mr Myers felt compelled to bring these proceedings in order to set the record straight. He is pleased that the defendants have both now publicly withdrawn the allegations, accepted that they are false, undertaken to the court not to repeat them and apologised for the damage caused.”