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Typist facing possible £100,000 libel bill after taking to Twitter

Typist facing possible £100,000 libel bill after taking to Twitter, A woman who launched a Twitter rant over an unpaid £150 bill is facing a libel battle that could cost her £100,000.

Lesley Kemp, 55, took to Twitter in a fit of rage alleging that a Middle Eastern company called Resolution Production failed to pay promptly for some transcription work.

The typist claims the TV production and equipment hire company took two months to pay her modest fee before docking £25 for 'bank costs'.

Twitter libel case: Lesley Kemp, 55, is being sued after Tweeting about a Middle Eastern company which was late paying a bill for typing services

Grandmother Mrs Kemp singled out Resolution Production boss Kirby Kearns by including his username.

She also tweeted pleas to Alan Sugar, Theo Paphitis and Duncan Bannatyne in a bid to name and shame the company for what she believed was their lack of professionalism.

But the mother-of-two was then hit with a claim form from Mr Kearns’ solicitors saying he had lodged a libel action against her over the allegation for up to a value of £50,000.

Mrs Kemp, of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, has taken legal advice and been told she could face £100,000 legal fees if she loses the claim.

'She's no kitchen table blogger': Speaker's wife Sally Bercow must pay for 'paedophile' tweet slur, say Lord McAlpine's lawyers

The claim was issued by the company last November and Mrs Kemp received it early this year. Her defence team are preparing for a possible two-day trial later this year.

The case is the latest in a series of libel cases to go before the courts. The speaker's wife Sally Bercow is currently being sued by Lord McAlpine over a Tweet he claims was linking him to false child abuse allegations.

Mrs Kemp will be represented by barrister Jonathan Price and libel lawyer Robert Dougans who successfully defended another landmark libel case.

Mr Dougans described the case as a 'Twitter flame war' and said it should not end up before the High Court.

'There is something wrong with the law. If you have your leg run over by a bus that will be a case in the small claims court. If we have a fist fight in the pub and we shook hands afterwards we will be up before a magistrates' court,' he said.

Battle: grandmother Mrs Kemp is being supported by the Libel Reform Campaign group and a leading lawyer

'Libel is a High Court matter - in criminal cases it has to be rape, robbery or murder before you are up before a High Court judge.

'The idea that a Twitter flame ear ends up in the court that is a joke - but that is the law.'

The Libel Reform Campaign are supporting Mrs Kemp and well-wishers have donated £2,000 to pay her initial court fees to lodge a defence.

Mr Dougans said with a mortgage to pay she faces financial ruin if she loses the case.

Mrs Kemp said: 'It was only a small amount of money that we argued over but because I was broke and stressed I took to Twitter and went on a bit of a rant.

'There were a lot of e-mails between us before I took to Twitter.

'He said that I was damaging his reputation and that it was all done maliciously.

'As soon as I received the lawyer's letter I panicked that they were going to really clobber me with this.

'I am not used to freelance work and didn't understand there is a culture of late payments and its not uncommon to have to wait months to receive your fee.'

Mrs Kemp says she plans to fight the libel claim the whole way.

She added: 'I'm a bit feisty and very determined and if I'm going down then I'm going to come up with a bang.

'I can't even begin to describe the stress that it has put me under.'

Mr Dougans represented journalist Simon Singh in his successful libel battle against the British Chiropractic Association in 2010.

Singh was sued by the BCA for a piece he wrote in the Guardian's comment pages and the case became a free speech cause celebre.

Scientists, celebrities and campaigners lined up to condemn the British libel laws and argue that Singh had a right to express his opinion in print.

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