APPROVED JUDGMENT (contd… Pages 71 to 75 of 75)
318. That was the essence of the complaint following his arrest. True he had, erroneously, alleged “perjury”. It is true to say that he was concerned, in particular, about the role played by Miss Slater – understandably so – and, quite rationally, he was concerned that the claimants personally must have been involved because of the clear presumption (and fact) that their solicitor was acting on their instructions, in particular, Mr Nick Statman (as Miss Slater’s exhibits show).
319. Indeed, that was not the only occasion in the course of these proceedings that, on behalf of the claimants, Miss Slater’s judgment might be criticised. In particular, at the hearing on 19th March 2012 before Keith J the claimants were required, in the usual manner, to give a cross undertaking as to damages. Keith J’s note of 17th April 2012 shows that the claimants’ counsel told him that the claimants would give such an undertaking:
“What I was not prepared to order then that there be an assessment of such damages as the defendant claimed to have sustained by then as a result of those parts of Butterfield J’s order which I thought were questionable, such as the prohibition on the defendant from contacting any other franchisees or clients of the claimants if that would have the effect of preventing him from operating the franchises he was granted. The claimants’ solicitors are wrong [that is Miss Slater, whose robust letters to the court are a matter of record which need not be recited for present purposes] when they say that a cross undertaking as to damages is not normally given on applications made on notice for the continuation of interim injunctions granted without notice. Such an undertaking is required for any interim injunction unless the court otherwise orders. I did not order otherwise. On the contrary, I required such an undertaking. That is why I added that the undertaking to the draft order be prepared by the claimants’ counsel.”
320. Finally, the learned judge concluded:
“Accordingly, the order that the court sealed dated 22nd March 2012 is correct.”
The complaint made by Miss Slater that the order was incorrect and inappropriately referred to undertakings by the claimants was simply wrong. I should add that Miss Slater’s complaints to the court staff at the RCJ that the order was wrong were initially referred on a paper basis to Foskett J on 2nd April 2012, who observed that:
“Contrary to the views expressed in the correspondence by Miss Slater, any order for an injunction, whether granted ex parte or otherwise, must contain a cross undertaking in damages unless the court orders otherwise (see practice direction 52 A, paragraph 5.1(1)). The issue seems to me to be whether Keith J did order otherwise and that is something that can only be answered by him.”
321. Finally, so far as the procedure adopted by the claimants is concerned, Miss Slater filed her third affidavit dated 20th February 2014 which was made in support of the claimants’ second application to commit the defendant to prison this time for an alleged contempt of court for breaching the order of 9th November 2012. In that affidavit, Miss Slater, doubtless on instructions, drew attention to the fact and complained as a breach of the order that the defendant had reported the claimants, including their barrister and herself, to Lincolnshire Police in April or May 2013 which resulted in the police investigation report of 8th May 2013 prepared by DS Mason. Miss Slater wished to draw the court’s attention to the fact that the learned judge and, apparently, the professional standards department of Lincolnshire County Council had both concluded that there was ‘no foul play, so to speak’ and that the defendant had, however, attended the police station to make a formal complaint about the conduct of both the claimants and their representatives. In essence, Miss Slater’s complaint, on behalf of the claimants, it might be thought, was that the defendant had had the temerity to complain about his unlawful arrest which, it was alleged, gave rise to a further breach of the order.
322. Miss Slater went on to identify further matters which it was alleged constituted additional breaches of the order. For example, by placing further blogs on his blog site [produced at page 21 of exhibit ES3] in which the claimants complained of a blog by the defendant in which he mentioned the fact of a hearing in open court in these proceedings in which the trial date was fixed, and added:
“If you don’t have anything better to do between 18th December 2013 and 20th December 2013, then please feel free to come along and entertain yourselves in the High Court.”
323. The defendant’s comment was pursued by the claimants as an act of harassment which was a free-standing breach of the interim injunction in respect of which a committal order should be made. This example is mentioned to show the oversensitivity of the claimants and the lack of understanding as to the kind of conduct which might arguably constitute an actionable harassment and breach constituting contempt. Miss Slater continued:
“The purpose of this post seems to publicise and encourage others to attend the trial which includes an action for breach of confidence. The very nature of this post is clearly intended to harass the claimants. I believe that this is a breach of the undertaking provided at paragraph 5(c) and (d) of the order of 9th November.”
324. Miss Slater then went on to refer to a number of other postings which, she asserted, constituted a breach of the order and warranted the committal of the defendant for contempt. It is unnecessary to recite them for present purposes. They were equally without merit.
325. That matter was considered at the pre-trial directions hearing on the following day, 21st February 2014. The claimants insisted that the recently issued committal application be dealt with on that occasion notwithstanding the fact of material non-compliance with procedural safeguards and that the defendant had not been given any or any adequate notice. The learned judge summarily dismissed the application. In my judgment, the application plainly had no merit. It appears to have been part of a strategy to oppress and stifle the defendant using the legal process.
326. I am satisfied that, having regard to the terms of sections 1 and 3 of the Act, the judicial guidance in respect of the approach to whether or not there has been an act of harassment, which I need not reiterate, that each and every one of the allegations of alleged harassment fails for want of proof. I am not satisfied that any one of these allegations approaches the boundary which has been referred to in judicial guidance and which would need to be crossed to be actionable. The fact that the claimants have pursued these allegations with such vigour and aggression suggests that they have failed properly to ascertain what is the true test for such an action and, in particular, whether a permanent injunction could be justified. The submission of Mr Richardson succinctly summed up the claimants’ attitude to this litigation when he was invited in his closing submissions to summarise the claimants’ position in relation to the defendant’s wrongful arrest which might arguably have been procured by his clients. Mr Richardson’s response, on instructions, was that it was the defendant’s own fault and that he had only himself to blame because he was the person who had placed the blogs complained of and had caused the claimants to bring proceedings.
327. It appeared that the claimants had lost all sense of proportion and judgment in bringing and pursuing these proceedings, including two committal applications, which were unmeritorious, and their efforts in procuring the summary arrest of the defendant. Not one of the allegations of harassment complained of has merit.
328. I am unable to accept the evidence of Mr Malcolm Statman who asserted that he personally had suffered distress or harm by reason of the publication of the documents about which complaint is now made. In his first statement there was no mention of any personal concern by him. In the latest witness statement significant distress or harm as a result of these publications is complained of. When cross examined as to the date when he first experienced such a reaction, Mr Statman was unable to say. He did not suggest that he suffered any such reaction at the time. He did say that he suffered distress sometime over the last two years or so. I was unable to accept Mr Statman’s evidence in this regard. I reject his evidence that he personally has suffered any or any significant distress or harm by reason of the publications of the defendant. It is perfectly understandable that he may well have suffered some upset and concern for his business or his son’s business by reason of adverse publicity in the public domain in the newspaper articles, the BBC report and the OFT report also but I am not satisfied that any material symptom or reaction which he says he suffered is or is capable of being attributed to the conduct of the defendant or that it was caused by such conduct.
329. I have already indicated other reasons why I am unable to accept the evidence of Mr Malcolm Statman, particularly in light, for example, of his response to questions concerning his behaviour in the meeting to which I have referred and his shifting of ground in relation to the tagging concerning the BBC news item in relation to the Jimmy Savile penthouse suite.
330. I am similarly unable to accept the evidence of Mr Nick Statman. I was not satisfied that he had suffered the alleged or any adverse reaction or deterioration in his health, due to the defendant’s alleged conduct. Indeed, if he had suffered any such reaction it is likely that there would probably have been some supporting medical evidence. There is none. Moreover, if the publications are viewed objectively it is difficult to see how either claimant could have suffered such an adverse reaction to the publications of the defendant.
331. On balance, insofar as either claimant did suffer some form of reaction which might otherwise at least form an ingredient to a completed cause of action of harassment, the explanation for suffering those symptoms lies probably in the contents of the newspaper articles, the BBC programme, which was, relatively speaking, hard hitting, and, also, the OFT report but, on the balance of probabilities, I am unable to find, as a matter of fact, any causal connection between the publications of the defendant complained of and any such reaction or harm about which both claimants now complain.
332. Further, and coming full circle, for the reasons I have given, I am unable to find that the claimants have discharged the burden of proof in relation to any one of the 25 allegations which, whether on its own or cumulatively, was sufficient to cross the threshold to be shown to have gone beyond the acceptable boundary into the unacceptable. In those circumstances, I dismiss the claim for a permanent injunction.
333. Finally, the claimants do appear to have conducted this litigation against the defendant with unnecessary aggression. Miss Omar submitted such conduct constituted oppressive use of the legal procedure. In light of the events leading to and including the wrongful arrest on the 19th November 2012, the flimsy (if any) basis for the many allegations and the unmeritorious committal applications I am inclined to accept her submission. I reject Mr Richardson’s submission that the defendant’s publications were motivated by an irrational fixation or deeply hatred of the claimants. The actual words used by the defendant simply do not bear out that interpretation.
334. Whilst some of the defendant’s comments may have been considered by the claimants to have been objectionable I am not satisfied, for the reasons I have given, that the claim under the Act of 1997 has been established or that, in any event, given the (lack of) substance in the allegations and the claimants’ conduct it is necessary or appropriate that a permanent injunction be granted. In the circumstances, both claims are dismissed.
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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