Andrew Jonathan Milne is demanding £25,000 damages over claims that he was confronted outside a Sainsbury’s store and told: “You are a thief, you are a shoplifter, you should be in jail,” in front of 50 onlookers.
Mr Milne said that he had paid for items at the store and was walking to his car when he was “defamed” by the shouting guard, who claimed that he had “stolen goods” in his bag.
The lawyer said that he grew up not far from the store in Wirral and that “it is highly likely that many who witnessed the incident recognised him”.
He said that “serious harm was caused to his reputation” by the incident and that he “was and continues to be deeply embarrassed” about it.
Lawyers for Sainsbury’s are defending the claim, arguing that “no real harm or damage” was done and that his claim is “bound to fail”.
While accepting that Mr Milne had made a genuine purchase, lawyers for the supermarket chain said: “There was a social, legal and/or moral duty on the security guard to prevent theft, namely shoplifting.”
Confronted by man shouting
In papers lodged with the High Court in London, William Bennett KC, Mr Milne’s barrister, said the incident occurred at a store in Woodchurch Road, Prenton, in June last year.
Mr Milne had paid for the items and was heading to the car park when he was confronted by a man shouting.
“The man shouted the following words which defamed the claimant: ‘Stop thief. You are a thief. You are a shoplifter. You should be in jail. I am arresting you for shoplifting. You are a thief … you are stealing my bag … you have stolen goods in your bag. I am arresting you, thief.’
“The volume of the man’s shouting and the nature of the accusations he was making against the claimant attracted the attention of approximately 50 people who were in the vicinity of the doors to the store and the car park and within earshot of the man. It was obvious that the accusations being made by him were directed at the claimant.
“The claimant then walked to the store, where he complained about what had happened.”
The Sainsbury’s lawyers said that there was unlikely to be any continuing reputational harm to Mr Milne, because the incident took place more than a year ago in front of people who were unlikely to know him.
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