Harassment of Council Staff and Councillors – recent case
Harassment of council staff and councillors – recent case
In the case of Ashford Borough Council and Kerly v Fergus Wilson  EWHC 2542 (QB) the council sought a final anti-harassment injunction to protect staff, members and agents from a campaign of harassment and intimidation from the defendant, a local large-scale landlord. In July 2020 the High Court granted an interim injunction restraining the defendant from pursuing a course of conduct amounting to harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Between February 2016 and July 2020, the council's legal department recorded 454 pieces of correspondence from the defendant. The High Court judge found among other things that the defendant had engaged in a campaign of repetitive, frequent, oppressive and offensive correspondence with the claimants, which ignored reasoned responses from the council. The defendant's correspondence included two suggestions that a councillor should commit suicide, numerous examples of personally offensive comments about appearance, unfounded accusations of criminal conduct and professional misconduct and requests that councillors or employees should resign or be dismissed.
In the circumstances the judge was satisfied that the interim injunction should be continued and converted to a permanent injunction. Although the defendant's conduct was deemed to be extraordinary and extreme and should not be considered as normal, councils experiencing serious apparent harassment of their officers and members might find the Ashford judgment to be useful.
NALC Legal Update November 2021
Posted: Fri, 19 Nov 2021 14:30 by Helen Carrier