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Environment Agency prosecutor wins libel damages and apology from operators of Devon garden centre chain

Posted: 02/03/2021

Dylan Sadler, a senior solicitor and prosecutor with the Environment Agency in the west of England, has succeeded in his libel action against the owners and operators of the Plants Galore garden centres in Devon.

Following the successful prosecution and conviction of one of its directors for environmental offences, Joyners Plants Ltd. posted a press release on its website, and circulated it more widely to local councillors, media outlets and MPs, accusing Mr Sadler of serious professional misconduct in relation to his conduct of the prosecution.

These allegations were false, defamatory and without foundation. However, Mr Sadler’s claim was rejected in pre-action correspondence leaving him no alternative but to commence High Court proceedings for libel and harassment.

Following a trial of preliminary issues in December 2020 in which judgment for Mr Sadler was given, the defendants accepted their liability and agreed to pay Mr Sadler damages and his legal costs. Joyners Plants Ltd also agreed to participate in a joint statement in open court apologising for making their allegations. An agreed apology has also been posted on the Plants Galore website.

The statement was read in open court today.

Commenting on the outcome, Dylan Sadler said: “I am delighted to have been fully vindicated in respect of the very serious and damaging allegations which had been published about me and to have received the unqualified apology in court today. The accusations went to the heart of my hard-won professional reputation and I had no option but to take action to clear my name. I would also like to thank my legal team – Jeremy Clarke Williams, Eva McHale and counsel Aidan Eardley – for their clarity of advice, unwavering support and the robust approach taken in countering the false claims made against me.”

Partner Jeremy Clarke-Williams and associate Eva McHale in the reputation management & privacy team at Penningtons Manches Cooper acted for Dylan Sadler.

Jeremy Clarke-Williams commented: “Lawyers do not often litigate personally in relation to matters arising from carrying out their professional duties. However in this case Mr Sadler was left with no choice because of the groundless and upsetting attack on his integrity. The apology given by the defendants in open court today completes the vindication he deserved and required."

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