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E-MAIL LIBEL HITS NORWICH UNION FOR £450K

News, 01 July 1997

A HIGH COURT HEARING wrung an apology and £450,000 damages from Norwich Union and its subsidiary Norwich Union Healthcare after they admitted staff had libelled another insurer Western Provident by e-mail transmitted over the group's intranet system. NU said it 'deeply regretted' spreading rumours that its rival was in financial difficulties, possibly insolvent, under investigation by the DTI, and could not write any new insurance business. According to David Engel, QC for Western Provident, NU's intention was to use this mis-information to his client's detriment 'in order to obtain new business'. The case is thought to be the first action for libel by e-mail over a non-open computer system.