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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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my employer has been receiving malicous anonymous letters over

Customer Question

my employer has been receiving malicous anonymous letters over a period of weeks concerning several members of the team. These letters have been sent to individuals who are named in the letters. The last two have been received by me. The employer seems to want to ignore the letters and keep the situation quiet. I have had enough now, and feel they have a duty of care to keep us informed of their investigations and to involve the police. What is the law about this situation in terms of the criminality of the letter but also my employer's duty of care?
thank you
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jenny Mackenzie replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to Just Answer, can you tell me how long you have been employed there and also a little bit more about the letters, does the content of the letters threaten the health and safety of the employees who receive them. Could you also tell me more about your employer and what role it is you do?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

My employer is a local authority, and the team is within the Children and Young People's services.

The letters do not threaten health and safety of employees but are definitely 'hurtful'. They imply that our manager does not care about confidentiality. They appear to want to damage her crediablity with Senior Management - and this seems to be why the management want to keep things 'quiet'.

A very viciously worded letter was sent to several colleagues - which contained confidential information in it. We were then told this had not been the first letter received - and we were assured that the police would now be involved.

They weren't and I subsequently received a letter.

The first letter I received was addressed to me 'as a friend' from 'a friend' and says that my manager has referred to me as being 'mentally deranged' and inappropriate for promotion.


The second letter was sent 5 days after a confidential meeting between my manager and a client - and refers directly to information at that meeting which even I had not been advised of at that time. It also states that my manager had not been supportive of my work in the meeting and had implied I was 'crap' at my job.


I actually feel these breaches of confidentiality may be founded but the way in which they are presented means that the local authority are not interested in investigating them.


Expert:  Jenny Mackenzie replied 5 years ago.
Have you raised a complaint formally or informally, if so what has been the response?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am trying to write a letter now - raising a formal complaint - but want to know what I could have/now expect them to do?

ie what is the legal situation concerning poison pen letters

and what is their duty of care to me as a recipient.

I feel I am a receipent because they did not fully investigate the letters or allegations when they were being directly sent to manager (and at that time did not address individual colleagues)

Expert:  Jenny Mackenzie replied 5 years ago.
How long have you worked there for?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I've been employed by them for 6 years now....

This manager has been in post for nearly 2 years.

About 7 years ago there was another spate of similar letters which were not investigated - but stopped when the 'top boss' sent a letter stating that police would be involved if it carried on.

We did inform the current management that this letter had been sent - and indeed a colleague gave them a copy of the letter.


Expert:  Jenny Mackenzie replied 5 years ago.

Ok your employer does certainly have a duty to treat this matter seriously and investigate and try to find the author. This is a matter of gross misconduct and the responsible employee should be dismissed.


I do not think that this is a criminal matter, the police are likely to say that this is a civil matter to be dealt with by the employer.


You should now raise a grievance to ask your employer:


a) what measures it is taking to investigate the matter and to prevent this from happening in the future?

b) For reasurrance that the comments made in the letter are not reflective of the feelings of management.


You can state that you believe that the employer must positively respond to ensure:


- the health and safety of the employees

- the morale of employees is not unduely affected.


I do hope that this matter does resolve itself. It may be, however that as everyone is a 'suspect' the employer cannot give too much detail of how it is investigating.


I would be grateful if you would press ACCEPT if you have found my answer useful. I will then leave the question open to answer your follow on questions for free.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
I would like to know the law on poison pen letters.
I would like to know the law concerning my employers responsibility.
The advise received is 'common sense' and what i am currently doing anyway!
Expert:  Jenny Mackenzie replied 5 years ago.

Ok well all the best I am experienced in advising local authorities on employment law- my answer is not simply common sense.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your question. I will try to help with this.

Might one ask what else you were expecting? I am a criminal specialist and I can confirm that its very unlikely the police would have any interest in this as its really no more than an employment issue.

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