A travel agent is suing for libel and asking for at least £150,000 in damages over what he claims are malicious and defamatory internet holiday reviews.
Malcolm Hardy, the founder of gay-friendly holiday specialist Mantrav, brought a case to the High Court last week to seek damages from internet users he has described as “trolls and vigilantes”, which include a disgruntled customer and a Canary Isles newspaper editor.
The Daily Mail reported that the dispute began when holidaymakers who had bought trips through Mantrav arrived in Gran Canaria to find no rooms had been booked for them.
Mantrav’s critics then decided to post reviews on websites and Facebook to accuse the company of fraudulent behaviour in taking the bookings.
According to the newspaper, Hardy, 72, has denied the allegations and argued that there was just one problem with a hotel that was beyond his control, and that all affected customers had since been fully refunded.
There have been other disputes involving Hardy and Mantrav, a company he is winding up.
He was previously arrested after a customer accused him of harassment, and is currently on police bail, although he has claimed to be the target of a “witch-hunt”. He has now said that he is also going to sue the Metropolitan Police.
The libel hearing will be heard by a judge on Wednesday, and Hardy has said: “People think they can just write anything online and there is no one to regulate it. I just want to prove we’ve done nothing wrong and to get our name back.”