Microsoft apologises for accusing British man of 'spamming'

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The computer giant Microsoft apologised yesterday to a British man it had wrongly accused of bombarding internet users with "spam".

The company issued an "unreserved apology" to Simon Grainger, two months after issuing him with a writ accusing him of stealing e-mail addresses of its customers and sending them unsolicited e-mails.

Microsoft believed Mr Grainger, 43, from Moreton, Merseyside, had accessed three million e-mail addresses via his website and deluged them with junk e-mails. In fact, he had only recently bought the domain name from someone Microsoft had suspected of spam attacks and knew nothing of its history.

Microsoft said it had dropped the action against Mr Grainger, one of 15 lawsuits brought against suspected spammers in the UK and US, and apologised for the distress.

Mr Grainger said he had acquired the domain name in October 2002, and no spamming activity had been detected from the address after he bought it. He said yesterday: "I am so relieved. The past few months have been an absolute nightmare. It's easy to make mistakes and in this case they got the wrong guy."