The long running saga by former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming to take legal action against journalists and people who had reported or shared unproven child sex abuse allegations against him made by Esther Baker took a new twist last month.
I have already reported the judgement in a case brought by John Hemming and a counter claim by Sonia Poulton in full on this blog last month but there has now been a further hearing to ascertain costs.
Summary judgement case lost by Hemming
Hemming lost a case for a summary judgement giving him aggravated damages against journalist, Sonia Poulton. The case will now go to a full trial.
As reported before Hemming was also unable to strike out most of her defence and the judge ruled that a counterclaim by her for damages for harassment and injunctive relief, pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 could go ahead. The latter counter claim was also against Sam Collingwood Smith and Darren Laverty, whom the judge said with the MP ” have been in some communication with one another, and have to some extent supported and assisted one another in various activities, not least litigation.”
The cost hearing began with an attempt by John Hemming’s lawyers and Darren Laverty to argue that as Sonia Poulton had refused an offer of mediation they should not pay her costs. But the judge did not accept this -particularly as her counter claim involved harassment of Sonia Poulton by Hemming, Laverty and Sam Collingwood Smith.
In the end the judge argued that Hemming should pay 85 per cent of her costs amounting to £8000 and Laverty should pay £6000. Laverty objected but has been told he has to pay by November when a case management hearing will be held prior to all the cases going to a full trial. Laverty has a separate claim for damages against Sonia Poulton.
The judge Deputy Master Bard also issued a general warning that litigation should not be used as a means of oppression.