APPROVED JUDGMENT (contd… Pages 66 to 70 of 75)
299. The trail of file notes and emails then ends. Miss Slater did not “revert” to the police and deal with the embarrassing problem she had been presented with on behalf of her clients, if not, indeed, had directly created. Belatedly, it had dawned on different police officers, who had not previously been subjected to the repeated (badgering) telephone calls and had not been exposed to the pressure being applied. It appeared that they had taken a detached view and saw that the arrest may not in fact be lawful, as indeed, turned out to be the case.
300. That chain of events resulted in a telephone call being made to the court on Monday, 19th November 2012 by the custody sergeant, confirming to the learned judge at the Royal Courts of Justice that the arrest had been made at the request of Miss Slater on behalf of the claimants and on the basis that there was a breach of an injunction which carried with it powers of arrest. The learned judge had faxed to him by the custody officer the relevant emails sent to them by Miss Slater. The learned judge was concerned. He handed down his Rulings and Order of 19th November 2012:
“The two emails that I was faxed by the police, which were documents urgently sent to them by Cohen Cramer [that is Miss Slater] do not bear out that a criminal reporting was being made but instead suggest that the matter being reported was a request for an injunction breach arrest as a prelude to the defendant being dealt with as a civil matter for contempt. The first email that I was faxed which bears this out is in the form of an undated letter which must have been sent by Miss Slater to the police on about Monday, 5th November. It refers to the original order made on 2nd November and expressly refers to breaches, namely the failure to remove certain internet blogs from the internet.”
The learned judge quoted directly from the letter:
“We confirm that a breach of the attached order of 2nd November 2011 carries with it powers of arrest which we would therefore be grateful if the police could attend upon Mr Brown and arrest him for breaching this order.”
301. At paragraph 7 the learned judge said in his Ruling:
“Since these two emails when read together or separately make it clear that the injunction was linked to a power of arrest, that the defendant was in breach of that injunction and that he should in consequence be arrested, it seems clear that the emails were requesting and asserting that the defendant should be arrested for breaching an injunction to which a power of arrest was attached. That is not the language of a possible crime being reported to the police, who should exercise their own judgment as to whether to arrest and charge the defendant and have him prosecuted for a criminal offence, but is instead the language of a solicitor reporting a breach of an injunction which has a power of arrest attached to it so as to bring the defaulter before the civil court for punishment as a contempt of court.”
302. He continued in his Ruling at paragraph 9:
“The following serious breaches of procedure therefore appear to have occurred:
(1) The solicitor sending two emails used language inviting the arrest of the defendant which, when read objectively, could only mean that he should be arrested for a civil contempt for breach of an injunction. The documents could not objectively have been read as inviting the police to decide whether to prosecute the defendant and who had the sole responsibility for deciding whether to arrest the defendant and charge him with an offence of breaching an harassment injunction.”
The learned judge was making that distinction because he had had three telephone calls with counsel on behalf of the claimants, which is where, as I understand it, Mr Brown may have got his wires crossed and became suspicious of the involvement of counsel.
Counsel informed the learned judge that the defendant had not been reported for a breach of an injunction but as a person suspected of committing a crime of breaching an harassment injunction. The learned judge did not consider that that was a reasonable or plausible or permissible explanation in light of the information he had seen.
“(2) The first email wrongly stated that the original and hence the renewed injunction was coupled with a power of arrest when it was not.
(3) No order of the court authorising the arrest and the issue of a warrant was never sought and never granted.
(4) Nobody other than the claimants and their solicitor was ever asked to turn their mind to whether the defendant was in breach of the injunction as a matter of fact, whether he should be arrested or whether the evidence supporting the application showed a strong case that the breach or breaches had occurred and was made available to the police in full when they were invited to arrest the defendant.
(5) The breaches that were alleged to have occurred appear to have occurred by non-removal of the blogs on a date or dates prior to the granting of the renewed injunction of 9th November 2012 and the section 9 statement referred to in the second email is one that had been provided to the police prior to the signing of the second injunction. This was a potentially serious error since, if that was the fact, the solicitor was applying for the defendant to be arrested for a breach occurring before 9th November 2012 even though it was made clear in court to me and by me and was accepted by counsel in open court that no arrest would or should be sought or made for breaches that had already occurred but would only be sought for any breaches occurring first after 9 November 2012.”
303. The learned judge considered the matter to be unsatisfactory. He required Miss Slater, as an officer of the court, to file by 23rd November 2012 an affidavit containing a full explanation; of the evidence sent to the police in support of her application for the arrest of the defendant; why no application was made to the High Court for a warrant of arrest under CPR 65.2(9); why the police were informed that the original injunction contained a power of arrest; why it was that it was contended by her that it was clear that she was reporting a possible crime to the police (for them to decide whether to prosecute, arrest and detain the defendant, rather than she was seeking his arrest pursuant to the powers provided by section 3 of the 1997 Act at CPR 65.2 (9)). The learned judge indicated that upon receipt of the affidavit he would decide whether a hearing in open court was necessary.
304. Miss Slater duly provided her affidavit of 23rd November 2012. I have referred to this already by reference to the exhibits. So far as the explanation itself is concerned, is unnecessary for me to recite it in detail. Suffice to say that Miss Slater gave a detailed analysis as to why she considered that she was reporting the matter to the police on the basis of a potential criminal offence; that the question was entirely within the discretion of the police to consider this matter and to determine whether an arrest was to be made; she rejected the assertion that she had, in fact, been requesting that the defendant should be arrested on an erroneous basis. She went on to explain which of the blogs she considered to constitute a breach of the order in the sense that, notwithstanding the order, certain blogs or postings were still to be seen on the internet. They were identified [within the trial bundle, reference B14 to B19].
305. Miss Slater maintained her argument that she believed that the email complained of constituted a reporting of a crime. She also stated at paragraph 38:
“I refer to paragraph 9 of the ruling and order of HHJ Thornton QC, which states that the language used in the emails inviting the arrest of the defendant could only mean that he should be arrested for civil contempt of breach of an injunction. The court will note that I have never at any time told the police that Mr Brown ought to be arrested for civil contempt of breach of an injunction.”
306. Miss Slater then referred to the fact that this matter had been considered by several officers at differing levels and that, ultimately, the matter was the responsibility of the police. She concluded in these terms:
“Finally, I would bring to the court’s attention that, at the time of writing, notwithstanding that Mr Brown has been before HHJ Thornton QC on 9th November and has been detained by the police in relation to his online postings, he has still failed to remove several of the postings that he was ordered to do so in accordance with the order of 12th November. I attach for the court’s information copies of the postings which have not yet been removed at pages 68 to 72 of that exhibit [cross referenced to the trial bundle reference B14 to B19]. It is therefore my belief that Mr Brown is still in breach of the injunction of 12th November and, as set out above, can and ought to have been arrested by the police accordingly and charged with a criminal offence under section 3(6), which is the jurisdiction of the Boston Magistrates Court.”
307. Having received that affidavit, the learned judge dealt with the matter on paper, which was distributed to the parties by email dated 26th November 2012. The learned judge stated:
“In light of the contents of [Miss Slater’s] affidavit I do not propose to take any further action in relation to the arrest and subsequent release of Mr Brown. However, it is clear from the statement and the documents attached to it that the police considered throughout that they were dealing with a reported breach of a civil injunction to which had been attached a power of arrest and that they were reasonable in understanding that given the wording of the communications from Miss Slater that referred to a breach of the attached order which carries with it the powers of arrest. This is a consequential way of referring to a civil injunction, where, in the harassment or domestic violence field, which has been breached but which carries with it a power of arrest, a conventional way of referring to a request for the police to deal with the crime of breaching an anti-harassment injunction is to report the suggested breach of the injunction to the police and request in clear words that the police should deal with the reported offence and consider exercising their powers of charging the potential defendant and of exercising their related powers of arrest since the crime being reported is an arrestable offence. The request should have been stated in clear terms that it was not a report of the breach of a civil injunction which had been attached a power of arrest but was a report of a crime of breaching an harassment injunction which it was requested should be dealt with as a criminal offence, leaving the police to decide whether to charge and whether to exercise their powers arising from the fact the crime reported was an arrestable offence.”
308. The learned judge continued:
“It seems from the evidence contained in Miss Slater’s affidavit that there had been a failure to take down the blogs with sufficient speed following the hearing of 9th November and it is clear that Mr Brown now contends that he has removed all blogs that are subject of the injunction.”
309. I should add that the evidence shows that the defendant had in fact sent an email on 10th November 2012 to the solicitors indicating that he understood that all had been removed but would be grateful for clarification or words to that effect.
310. The matter came before the learned judge on 17th January 2013 when he made a formal order. This order has a lengthy preamble which sets out the gist of the problems which had arisen. The final part of the preamble reads:
“And upon counsel for the claimants in both claims informing the court at the outset of the hearing when the application was called on for hearing that the claimants were not any longer contending that there were any outstanding breaches of any injunction in either of the claims, so that, as at the time when counsel was addressing the court, the claimants would not be contending that there were any breaches outstanding or any breaches requiring to be considered by the court or any other court and were not seeking any order for committal or any arrest or further investigation by the police of any crime committed by any breach of the injunctions.”
According to the terms of that order : “ It is ordered that…
(2) The court noted that the claimants had conceded that, as at the date of the hearing on 17th January 2013, there were no outstanding breaches of any injunction made in either claim that were any longer being alleged or that remain for consideration for committal by the court.”
311. The learned judge then gave directions for the bringing of the matter back before the court in due course. The court confirmed that the injunctions remained in place and that the defendant was required to observe those injunctions until trial or further order and the learned judge directed a copy of that order had to be shown to any court at whatever level in the event of any further hearing.
312. As appears from that order the initial application seeking the committal to prison of the defendant for alleged non-compliance with the non-disclosure undertakings issued by the defendant on 29th October 2012 supported by Miss Slater’s affidavit of 30th October 2012 was effectively withdrawn. It was an application which ought never to have been brought for the reasons I have given earlier.
313. The matter then went back before the court for directions to be made to bring the hearing of both of these actions to trial.
314. At the commencement of the trial, it was uncertain from Mr Richardson’s submissions as to whether or not the claimants in fact accepted that the defendant’s arrest was an unlawful arrest. No concession was made. Prior to closing submissions the defendant produced a letter from the Legal Services Department of Lincolnshire Police Headquarters, dated 8th October 2013, which commenced:
“Lincolnshire Police Force accepts that the arrest was unlawful.”
It is unnecessary for that letter to be recited in any further detail for present purposes.
315. The police gave consideration, in light of the learned judge’s ruling of 19th November 2012, as to whether there had been committed, or there was reason to suppose there had been committed, the criminal offence(s) of perjury or perverting the course of justice. Their report, adduced at this trial and referred to by Mr Richardson, is dated 8th May 2013. It shows that the investigating officer proceeded on the assumption that the source of the alleged perjury complained of by the defendant was in Miss Slater’s affidavit in which she gave her explanation for her conduct to the learned judge. Quite why the officer chose to assume that the potential perjury was the affidavit is unclear. The complaint concerned the arrest and the (in)accuracy of the information given to the police before his arrest and which led to his arrest, not the post – arrest explanation.
316. The ‘investigation’ was, of course, flawed. It is hardly surprising that the conclusion was that there was no evidence, in the affidavit, of perjury sufficient to justify action.
317. The complaint by the defendant, albeit using the wrong legal label, was that it was the information which led to his arrest misrepresented, as he saw it, the true position and directly led to his arrest. He believed that the steps taken by the claimants, through Miss Slater (and, the defendant thought, also counsel) which I have summarised from Miss Slater’s own exhibits, led to his arrest. He thought, and complains, ironically, that it was the claimants who have treated him harshly and oppressively; by bringing these proceedings and making trumped up allegations of breach of confidence and harassment; by bringing applications to commit him to prison and, yet further; pursuing matters with such determination as to procure his wrongful arrest.
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Mr Nicholas Charles Statman aka Nick teflon-coat Statman
Mr Malcolm Robert Statman aka Malcolm bully-boy Statman
Gateway Homes Nationwide Franchise Ltd / Whitehall Franchise Ltd (in liquidation from August 2014)
Gateway Homes UK Ltd
(Other trading companies / names in operation –
CXI 92 LIMITED
KINGSBRIDGE AND CARTER LTD
SPEEDY PROPERTIES LTD
TOM CRAVEN LIMITED
ROBERT CHARLES PROPERTY LIMITED
GATEWAY HOMES RENTALS UK LIMITED
GATEWAY HOLDINGS (UK) LIMITED
GATEWAY HOMES RENTALS UK LIMITED
PROP BUY LTD
ROOST UK LIMITED)
Claimants Legal Team (upto end July 2014) –
Miss Kaye Longhorn – Cohen Cramer Solicitors(apparently now departed employment)
Miss Emily Slater – Cohen Cramer Solicitors(apparently now been fired) aka Miss Emily I-am-the-law Slater
Miss Gemma Bowkett – Cohen Cramer Solicitors(apparently now departed employment)
Mr Michael McDonnell – Cohen Cramer Solicitors
Mr Matthew Richardson – Barrister @ Henderson Chambers aka Mr Matthew tweedledum Richardson (Ex-UKIP General Secretary … that didn’t last long!)
Mr Adam Richardson – Barrister @ Warwick House Chambers aka Mr Adam tweedledee Richardson
Claimants Legal Team (post July 2014) –
Miss Clare Painter – Group Manager, Gateway Homes UK Ltd aka Jane Wood (trying to act as a McKenzie Friend)
Mr Nick Statman – acting as a Litigant In Person
Mr Stuart Brown – acting as Litigant In Person, represented at Trial by Miss Omar