I went to an event not related to work and met a writer, who is friends with a freelance writer working for us. I told him that the freelance writer submitted an article that is "late". That's what really happened. But to be honest, he delayed our product and caused a huge problem. But I just said "he submitted an article late" and not in a serious tone. In a joking manner. And I followed up that it was because he went out of town and had no Internet. So it wasn't a negative comment. At least for me I think it wasn't. I actually haven't even met this freelance writer. I just know he submitted an article late.
So after the weekend passed, the writer wrote an email to our boss, a long email saying that he heard "malicious" things about him that were said by [my full name]. And he was saying a "handful of people". Like I just told that one guy I met at the event. And that he will not get the money we would have paid him and just pay it to me. That just made me feel bad.
I thought I was going to get fired because of it. Since our boss can let go people easily. But she was nice about it and understood my side and just told me not to tell anything about what's happeneing internally in the company.
Now, I'm going to meet him together with my boss tomorrow. I mean, I will apologise, but I still have to explain myself, because I think I did nothing wrong. The argument I was thinking of is: "Why would I even say malicious things about you when I haven't even met you? And that I work at a completely different department?" But I don't know if that's a good argument. How should I respond to the accusations? How can I get my point across?