X is currently involved in a legal battle with said ex-wife regarding child abuse by parental alienation of his child. X, with a friend in a similar position, created a private support group on WhatsApp mostly consisting of close friends. The content of the group is mostly banter, updates on the situation and venting, some of which was directed towards the religious leader of their community, his apathy and lack of support.
Recently, this religious leader has threatened legal action and damages through loss of charity donations, claiming malicious falsehood. Below are a sample of the publications:
"[he] has sinned greatly"
"He has done nothing ... anyone who remains silent is playing a role in the abuse"
"He is unfit to be a leader .. he is a liar ... he should resign"
Additional a complaint was filed to his superiors claiming that he was violating safeguard protocols, which is being used as evidence of harassment.
The group is private and there is a confidential code of conduct, meaning either there is a mole or the group was illegally accessed.
Does criticizing public figures constitute libel especially in a private group?
Does X have a counterclaim for illegally accessing the data?