A MAN who was denied fertility treatment for his partner after being wrongly labelled a convicted killer is to sue Edinburgh City Council for defamation.
Danny Wilson has won a six-year battle for the right to take the council to court and will now become the first person in Scotland to take a defamation action with the help of legal aid.
His partner was refused fertility treatment on the NHS because documents held by the city council and shared with other public bodies falsely described him as a criminal “lifer” who had spent time in prison.
How and why false information was included in Mr Wilson’s file has never been fully explained.
Until now he has been unable to sue for defamation because legal aid funding was not available for such a case.
The law was amended with new regulations issued in 2010, outlining the circumstances when people could get financial help for defamation actions.
But it has still taken two years for Mr Wilson’s lawyer to secure legal aid funding. Cameron Fyfe, of legal firm Ross Harper, said: “This is a great victory for Danny Wilson. The defamation against him had a really devastating effect on his life and without legal aid he would not have been able to progress his case further.
“It says a lot for his courage that he has kept at this for so long. On another level, this opens the door for people who are not so well off to pursue a defamation case.”
Mr Fyfe said the value of the defamation claim would be high. “As a result of the defamation, the client’s fertility treatment was stopped and as a result of that he broke up with his partner.
“This also led to psychological difficulties and he had to give up his business, which was quite profitable. His life collapsed as a result of the defamation.”
Mr Wilson has now moved from Edinburgh to Wales. He previously described the devastating effect of the false information on the council’s files, which he only discovered when the fertility treatment was refused.
He said: “Everything should be fine, perfect. But it’s not. The social work department has destroyed us. I’ve been neglecting my firm, I’ve been suffering depression. The whole thing is contemptible.”
Mr Fyfe said the new rules allowed legal aid for defamation actions where it could be shown there was a public interest and the case was complex.
A spokesman for the Legal Aid Board said the delay in approving Mr Wilson’s legal aid was due to the new regulations taking time to filter through. He said: “This is the first defamation case granted by the board’s legal cases committee.”