Tristram Norriss – attempted defence

Tristram Norriss has a half-brother, Paris Norriss, who lives in the UAE. Paris appears to be a decent and hard-working young man and while it is only natural he should seek to defend his family, it would have been better to have checked the facts before publishing his views.

On 1 June 2017 he published a prejudiced and uninformed article which is reproduced below, with comments added as appropriate.

Defamation online is a tricky field to navigate
Social media poses enormous value for building and communicating a personal brand. It has brought me business and helped me develop a reputation that has opened many doors. But what happens when social media and the internet work against you? Let’s take a look at the opposite effect it can have when a reputation is defamed and intentionally attacked by someone who is disgruntled. (It wasn’t just ‘someone’ but a group of people who have been swindled and harmed by Tristram Norriss. The intention was and is  merely to try to get our money back.)

My brother, for example, has been facing a difficult situation for some time – one that has worsened over time. (It has worsened because after he disappeared from Japan in 2003 he has never contacted any of his creditors and clearly he is trying to evade his responsibilities.) Some years ago (in 1987) when he was living in Tokyo in Japan, he entered into a business deal, raising funds from an investor (It was a fraudulent scheme. The money raised was used by Tristram Norriss for his personal expenses), that later went sour (euphemism for saying Tristram Norriss spent all the money). The investor lost his money, the business liquidated (It wasn’t liquidated – there was no such formal process. Tristram Norriss was sued in the Tokyo District Court but fled the country after paying only part of the amount he was ordered to pay.) and everyone involved was negatively affected. (Everyone lost their money.) Unsurprisingly the investor was angry, I mean who wouldn’t be? (This is true!) However, the investors then created a website (The website was only created in 2016.) using my brother’s name as the domain and published factually incorrect allegations (What are these ‘factually incorrect allegations’? Please tell us. Everything on the website is true and can be substantiated.) with the intent to tarnish his reputation. (The intent was, and is, to pressure Tristram Norriss to pay his debts, not to tarnish his reputation.)

What would you do if somebody set out to dismantle a reputation you’ve worked so hard to create? (See comment above.) The laws in the UAE are extremely strict on these issues and unlike many countries where defamation is a civil case, in the UAE it is a criminal matter and hence prosecution often results in jail time or deportation for expats. (The only defamation is that which Tristram Norriss has brought upon himself: fraud, refusal to pay his debts, and in 2014 committing the crime of bigamy.) In fact you need permission to photograph or videoing anyone so, given the loose nature of social media, people must be very careful when posting photos that contain others.

Posters may wrongly assume that if the statements they are making about someone are true, then this indemnifies them from criminal prosecution. However, the focus in the UAE is on whether the statements caused loss of reputation rather than the validity of the statements.

Where the issues get complex is when we include the inherently international nature of the web, where people situated in different countries publish, comment or post content about you that may radically harm your business reputation and be visible to a global audience. Yet if the person isn’t present locally to take legal action to stop this, and they may never be, what can you do? (What Tristram Norriss could and should have done during all these years is to have come to an arrangement with his creditors and his abandoned family in Japan, but he has deliberately ignored all his responsibilities.)

In the case of my brother, the person committing this defamation is in Japan, a country he no longer resides in. While the internet is considered international and therefore it can be considered an offence in whichever law it applies to across the world, he would have to file a case in Japan which would be costly, require translation to file and take time. (If Tristram Norriss were to file a case in Japan he would have to account to the Tokyo District Court for failing to fulfil his obligations and would be liable to pay 10 per cent interest per year since 2003 on the outstanding debt – the court order runs indefinitely.)

When we post social media content, people around the world can comment negative, harmful and untrue things (If Mr Paris Norriss is implying the website contains untrue things, perhaps he would like to tell us what these are.) and taking legal action across borders is a headache and costly. Thankfully most social media platforms have a policy against such content and will work with you to remove it and ban users who break these policies. Removing websites can be more difficult, but it is possible by contacting the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers with a takedown letter explaining the reasons; you can also approach search engines directly to remove content.

This doesn’t stop people from publishing harmful information in the first instance and it might happen without you realising for some time. (Such information is not published without a reason. It could all have been avoided by Tristram Norriss behaving honestly and paying his debts instead of running away from his responsibilities.) It might, for example, be picked up when you are engaged in important business and it is found in a background check on you. This could be highly embarrassing and hard to explain and could potentially damage you financially. Therefore, I recommend continuously checking search engines and social sites for statements, including your name, to ensure you know about it soon enough to take action.

Bloggers and social media users should also be highly careful of the content they post and be aware of the laws surrounding social media content. What is generally accepted globally may not be in the UAE. And while it may seem like the norm, because everyone is doing it and it’s not a problem, it never is. Until it is.

Paris Norriss is an entrepreneur and partner in Coba Education, which provides educators to schools and institutes.

Tristram Norriss’s attitude to his creditors
From a message of May 2017 that recently came into our possession, Norriss claims he has done nothing wrong – it’s always other people who are unfair and are persecuting him!

We who have set up this website are accused of:

…seeking to destroy my reputation and business relationships. Clearly as I have never committed a criminal offence in any jurisdiction ever this site is libelous and the words emanating from — are slanderous. Further there is unambiguous evidence [about one of his creditors who is pursuing him] of extremely prolonged stalking…he is lacking some basic human decency which I put down to his repressing mental issues that have been festering many years…He has also shown over the years signs of becoming unhinged.

So, people who have been defrauded by Norriss and are pursuing him to try to get their money back, are ‘stalking’ him and are becoming unhinged!