Jenifer Howlett has succeeded in obtaining a harassment injunction against banner-flying millionaire Terry Holding, following an important ruling in the High Court. Mrs Howlett had previously won two libel actions against Mr Holding.
Ex-Mayor Obtains Harassment Injunction Against
25 January 2006
A High Court Judge today brought an end to an extraordinary five-year campaign of harassment waged by “obsessive” millionaire scrap car dealer Terry Holding against Mrs Jenifer Howlett, a former Mayor and Councillor in Castle Point, Essex.
Since September 2000 Mr Holding had trailed dozens of banners behind his private aircraft in the skies above Essex, containing false and highly derogatory messages concerning Mrs Howlett. He also dropped thousands of defamatory leaflets from his aircraft, including shortly before the local elections in May 2003. Mr Holding subsequently admitted in Court that his aim had been to give Mrs Howlett “living hell”, because she had dared to speak out against a controversial planning application made by his company in 2000. Then, in September 2005 it transpired that Mr Holding had had Mrs Howlett placed under video surveillance as she went about her daily life.
Mr Holding’s banner-flying and leaflet dropping had already given rise to two libel actions, which were tried before Judge and Jury in October 2003 and May 2005. On both occasions the Jury found unanimously in Mrs Howlett’s favour, awarding her damages totalling almost £90,000 and ordering Mr Holding to pay costs well in excess of £1million. Yet, despite the jury verdicts, still Mr Holding persisted in his campaign of hatred.
In an important decision, Mr Justice Eady today ordered an injunction preventing Mr Holding from flying any further banners and dropping any leaflets referring to Mrs Howlett, and also forbidding him from having her placed under surveillance. Describing Mr Holding’s conduct as a “clear and persistent campaign of harassment” which had caused Mrs Howlett anxiety and distress, his Lordship was in no doubt that Mr Holding wanted to abuse his right to freedom of expression in order “to go on inflicting damage on Mrs Howlett in a cruel and cynical way, while laughing…at the processes available to her through the administration of justice.”
The Judge observed that “Mr Holding is a rich man who is prepared to use his wealth to victimise a woman of modest means, who can only defend herself by resorting to the law (taking advantage of the relatively recent provisions governing conditional fee agreements). She has been fortunate to find lawyers to represent her and to attempt, as far as possible, to protect her interests”.
Speaking today, Mrs Howlett said “I am delighted by the verdict of the Court and the wording of the judgment. The banner flying and leaflet dropping went on for years, and the thought of being followed even when I went out shopping was simply unbelievable. Thankfully, the Judge has found that there was no excuse for this bizarre behaviour. I had hoped that after forcing me to bring two successful libel actions, Mr Holding would move on with his life and let me move on with mine, but I was wrong. I can only hope that he will, finally, now respect this third verdict of the Court and leave my family and me in peace”.
Mr Justice Eady ordered Mr Holding to pay Mrs Howlett’s legal costs, to be assessed on the “indemnity” basis as an expression of the Court’s disapproval of Mr Holding’s conduct.
A full copy of the Judgment is available on request.
Mrs Howlett was represented by Adam Tudor and Isabel Martorell