Judge warns she will block senders who flooded her office with 50 emails before hearing
Some readers of this blog will know that until two years ago I did report in a number of blogs the allegations of Esther Baker against former Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming. Since then a judge has ruled against Esther Baker’s allegations and banned her from making them again and I have had an agreed settlement with Mr Hemming not to mention them.
There has been a sequel to this story culminating in Mr Hemming’s friend, Sam Collingwood Smith and Esther Baker being involved in a protracted dispute in the courts over tweets and forums on the Internet. The case culminated ( so far) in two judgements on the Queen’s Bench Division list at the Royal Court of Justice.
Today a woman judge used her discretion to refuse Mr Smith’s application to strike out her response and told Esther Baker to re-present her claim to the court within a proper legal framework.
Neither litigant is represented by lawyers. The pleadings and annexes according to the judge ran to 293 pages which shows how comments on Twitter and blogs can escalate into an extraordinary expensive dispute if they ever get into the courts.
The judge also issued an unusual statement at the end of her judgement warning she would block the email accounts of senders if they continued to flood her office over the dispute.
She said : “In the 10 days leading up to the hearing, I received well over 50 emails on this matter, not all from the parties. Some were properly alerting me to documents or issues I needed to decide or consider. Many
were not. The majority of those were copied to my listing clerk had to consider them to see if there was anything she was required to do. I received a further 15 emails after the hearing and before handing down this judgment, again some of which were properly sent; others were not.”
She concluded: “If I continue to receive unnecessary emails I will block the sender and all correspondence will have to be done through the post, the court’s generic email or CE file.”
The full judgement is here-
It is a long read. I will not comment but leave you to make up your mind. The ruling has absolute privilege.
After further hearings in November and February Master Sullivan, the judge has issued a second judgement in this long saga. She had asked Esther Baker to resubmit her arguments against Mr Smith’s claim.
This time she rejected a substantial section of her arguments of harrassment and truth in her amended defence and counterclaim but also rejected Mr Smith’s attempt to have her case completely struck out.
The judgement is here. Make up your mind if you want to read it.
At the end of the judgement she says:
“Although longwinded and at times difficult to follow, there is an understandable claim. [By Esther Baker] That remains once the matters set out above have been struck out in my judgment. I am also asked to strike the defamation claim out on the basis that the defendant’s reputation is so damaged already by the judgments against her (in the Lavery and Hemming cases) that there can be no serious harm.
“That judgment would require an investigation into the facts it would be inappropriate for me to do. I am also of the view that is it realistically arguable that there is a difference between the matters alleged against her which would arguably cause serious harm even against the backdrop of those judgments.
” The claimant also submits that given the way the defendant has conducted the litigation and the limited nature of any possible remedy, it is not proportionate to allow the counterclaim to continue. Whilst there may be triable issues on some issues such as the difference between stalking and harassment, is it not proportionate in the circumstances of an impecunious defendant with adverse findings against her and who has already caused the cost and time a number of procedural hearings, to allow the claim to continue. I do not accept that submission.
“There are triable issues and the litigation so far has not been conducted in such a way as to make it appropriate to strike out the claim. The remedies sought, if granted, would include injunctive relief and that is a matter of value as well as any damages that might be awarded. “
A further hearing is expected later.