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Genealogists win libel case against rival

PUBLISHED: 17:37 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 18:03 09 December 2019

The libel case was brought by Anglia Research against rival genealogists Finders International, and its director Daniel Curran Picture: MATTHEW USHER

The libel case was brought by Anglia Research against rival genealogists Finders International, and its director Daniel Curran Picture: MATTHEW USHER

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An Ipswich father and son genealogy firm which has worked on top TV show Who Do You Think You Are has been awarded £40,000 in libel damages against a rival.

Philip Turvey, executive director of Anglia Research of Ipswich  Picture: MARK ANDREW WITTERPhilip Turvey, executive director of Anglia Research of Ipswich Picture: MARK ANDREW WITTER

An Ipswich father and son genealogy firm which has worked on top TV show Who Do You Think You Are has been awarded £40,000 in libel damages against a rival.

Peter and Philip Turvey of Anglia Research Services sued Finders Genealogists Limited, which trades as Finders International, and its director Daniel Curran over a series of emails.

Anglia Research has helped stars such as Lord Coe, Minnie Driver and Julie Walters trace their family trees on BBC's Who Do You Think You Are, while Mr Curran's firm has featured on another BBC genealogy series, Heir Hunters.

Both firms do genealogical research which includes tracing relatives of those who have died so they can inherit their estate.

Daniel Curran of Finders International  Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORDDaniel Curran of Finders International Picture: GAVIN TRAFFORD

Mr Curran's firm has featured on another BBC genealogy series, Heir Hunters.

Executive director Philip Turvey said: "It has been extremely stressful and we are glad that it is now over.

"We have been fully vindicated and we can now concentrate on running the business and undertaking the core functions of our work, which is tracing next of kin and reuniting them with lost assets.

"It's difficult to know what would cause someone to stoop to the depths that he did. It may be professional jealousy, we just don't know.

Peter Turvey, managing director of Anglia Research of Ipswich  Picture: SANDIS KAJINSPeter Turvey, managing director of Anglia Research of Ipswich Picture: SANDIS KAJINS

"We've done a lot of work on transparency in this industry which may have caused some rancour? It's difficult to know his mindset."

In a statement read out before Mr Justice Jay at the High Court in London on Monday December 9, William McCormick QC said the emails contained a number of false allegations.

These included claims the Turveys had run an abusive Twitter account which posted photographs taken from the social media accounts of Finders International employees, and followed the account of the primary school attended by Mr Curran's seven-year-old daughter.

There was also a false allegation the Turveys caused Anglia Research, which is based in Museum Street, to attempt to make a fraudulent claim for a £1 million estate.

The Turveys learned of the emails after an anonymous source sent a package containing printed copies, which appeared to have been sent to sales representatives of London-based Finders International.

Mr Curran admitted the emails had been written but said they were drafts which had only been sent to himself and his assistant for checking.

An initial investigation of his firm's computer systems appeared to confirm the emails had not been sent elsewhere.

But after the High Court ordered that full disclosure of emails should be overseen by an independent IT consultant, it was revealed they had been deleted.

Mr McCormick said: "Alarmingly, had it not been for the fact that one individual had seen fit to tip off the claimants as to what the defendants had been doing, by sending them the documents anonymously, the claimants may never have discovered conduct which bore, and bears, all the hallmarks of a serious attempt to pervert the course of justice."

Both firms also do genealogical research which includes tracing relatives of those who have died so they can inherit their estate.

Mr Curran and Finders International denied the emails had been sent and agreed to settle the claim without admitting any liability.

A previous libel claim brought by Philip Turvey against Mr Curran and his firm was settled with an apology and a charity donation in lieu of damages in October 2016.

Philip Turvey said: "We are pleased that the proceedings are concluded with today's statement in open court and that a settlement has been reached.

"This was never about just the emails - it was about Curran's serial misconduct and sense that he is above the law.

"As ethical practitioners, Anglia, my father and I could not simply allow Curran and Finders to get away with treating us, the court system and justice with such contempt. We're glad this matter has finally been resolved."


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