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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Remus2004 Thanks for the information so far. There are other

Customer Question

Remus2004
Thanks for the information so far. There are other aspects to this case that must also be mentioned and which may have legal implications which I would like to explore.
This organisation has been blocking jobs, consultancy, promotion etc to those whose supposed political views it dislikes. It has destroyed friendships. It has been illicitly recording conversations of the victims and I believe using selective quotations to put them into an extremely adverse light. There is obviously financial loss and reputational damage involved. What, if any, of these activities are illegal? Is this not tantamount to at least harassment? It is, finally, quite possible that these activities will results in physical illness, breakdown and even suicide of victims. (Think of the Red Guards' activities in China under Mao. The parallel is not much exaggerated).
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

Is this an organisation though or an individual?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972



Thanks for the information so far. There are other aspects to this case that must also be mentioned and which may have legal implications which I would like to explore.
This organisation has been blocking jobs, consultancy, promotion etc to those whose supposed political views it dislikes. It has destroyed friendships. It has been illicitly recording conversations of the victims and I believe using selective quotations to put them into an extremely adverse light. There is obviously financial loss and reputational damage involved. What, if any, of these activities are illegal? Is this not tantamount to at least harassment? It is, finally, quite possible that these activities will results in physical illness, breakdown and even suicide of victims. (Think of the Red Guards' activities in China under Mao. The parallel is not much exaggerated).

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Would it be possible to tell me whether or not this is an individual or an organisation?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

this is an organisation but not one with a formal, legal identity.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
How many people are involved ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

At a guess several hundred

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok.

Give me 20 mins to dictate an answer. This is more complicated.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
There is an argument that this does amount to harassment. It depends exactly what action is being taken. Just acting against a person does not necessarily mean they are being 'harassed' although thats not to say that there are not other actions in some cases.

The problem here will be that harassment can only be committed by an individual rather than an organisation. Under the new law it can committed against an organisation not an individual but not by one. Of course, its always the individuals who do the harassing anyway.

If there have been repeated actions by certain individuals then there may well be a harassment but not by the organisation.

The other problem is that even if you got restraining orders and injunctions against those persons others associated with the organisation may start.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for this detailed reply. It is rather useful.


 


However, if one were able to pursue a harassment case against an individual, say one of the leaders, this would presumably not be costless? So, if as you say, each time the multi-headed hydra were just to grow another head, the costs could tend to infinity?


 


So are you saying that this would be the only grounds on which one might argue they are breaking the law, and that this would be potentially extremely costly to pursue and so a waste of time?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No, there would be cost in it.

In practice the police would probably not be interested so you would have to sue at the civil courts.

You may have a claim at the civil courts as the juniors are probably acting at the direction of the seniors even if they are not acting themselves.

I'm not sure its a waste of time. It depends how clear your evidence is and what you want to achieve. I have often found that harassments fall into two categories. The first is things like the unwanted suitor who just won't accept that a person does not want contact. They are simple and easily resolved by an injunction. The second is more complicated. That includes things like a person does things like block people indirectly or make a serious of false or trivial allegations against their target. There has been some case law that has confirmed this is capable of being harassment and you do often get findings against them. The problem though is what type of injunction can you get that addresses the problem. An injunction preventing a person from calling the police or saying anything adverse about their target is not proportionate so you end up with a watered down order. However, you do still have a finding against them which can be useful.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the detailed reply. Very useful.


There is a final complication. All the evidence available for a civil case would be from witnesses to defamation carried out against this individual and presented as reasons for blocking his publications by the organisation. These individuals might be reluctant to appear as witnesses in a court case for defamation or harassment. The more significant evidence of a campaign would only be available by hacking into the email correspondence of the organisation and this is illegal under the Computer Misuse Act I understand. Is there a public body e.g. MI5 that would be prepared to hack emails on this person's behalf?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, I thought that might be an issue.

I'm afraid you will not be able to use evidence gathered by hacking even if you could find anybody willing to do so legitimately for a civil claim which you will not.

Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69369
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, if I may (inexpertly) summarise:


1.This organisation has been blocking publications, jobs, consultancy, promotion etc to those whose supposed political views it dislikes. It has destroyed friendships. It has been clandestinely recording conversations of the victims and I believe using selective quotations to put them into an extremely adverse light. There is obviously financial loss and reputational damage. It is, finally, quite possible that these activities will results in physical illness, breakdown and even suicide of victims.


2. The only legal redress available to the victims consists of a charge of Harassment or possibly slander/libel. H is only available if the harassment is committed by individuals and if there is legally admissible evidence available to support it. This cannot be supplied by email hacking but witness testimony might do the trick.


4. This would be pursued as a civil action and might result in an injunction against the individual but not in damages or imprisonment. It would also be costly and it might be necessary to repeat the process if another member of the organisation were to replace the first, and so on.


5. There is a problem if the witnesses to this harassment refuse to testify in court as these may be subject to the same H themselves and without their testimony not even an minimal redress in the form of an injunction can be obtained. Such witnesses cannot be subpoenaed.


6. In short, whilst a potentially limitless personal tragedy is occurring in the lives of a growing number of entirely innocent people in this country, there is no way of stopping this happening within the law.


 


 


 


 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

so what is the solution? Talk to my MP to get them to put in a Private Members' bill to change the law?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
1 I wouldn't know about that obviously.

2 Yes, you won't get evidence in that you've obtained by committing offences but any lawful means is fine.

3 Probably you would need to sue. The police are not likely to be interested,

4 You can subpoena a witness. There are risks because generally a reluctant witness is an unhelpful one but you can get a summons.

5 It depends what you mean really. If this is an organisation then it sounds more like an anti competitive issue although, in fairness, censoring of views goes on all the time. Most of the media will not give airspace to anything that is not sufficiently PC.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You said earlier that intimidation of editors and referees of a journal by threatening to proscribe their own publications is not unlawful. What would make it unlawful then? If they threatened physical violence or tried to extort money? Both are unlikely in this case. Would their be any criminal liability if the proscribed party were to become ill as a result of this discrimination?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
If they made unwarranted threats and tried to exhort money that would be blackmail which is an offence.

Threats of violence can offend.

Becoming ill isn't normally an ingredient of an offence.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I wonder if it would be worth considering lobbying my MP or some other MP to get a change or changes in the law to deal with what in common parlance is straightforward intimidation of individuals and clear cases of slander and libel against them, and therefore to outlaw such behaviour? But again without subpoenering a witness it would be difficult to prove a breach of the law.


 


A potential non-Parliamentary solution might be to set up one's own journal and publish that way. The problem is that if one were to set up an alternative journal this would not have the same status as the journals from which a person is excluded.


 


What do you think?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

There is an argument that defamation isn't really accessible to people who can't pay adverse costs. The problem with that though is that unfortunately if it became more accessible there are thousands of people who would use it for very trivial issues. Sadly that is whats happened to the harassment legislation.

The world of publishing is changing though anyway. Kindles and Ebooks might well be an end to these strangleholds anyway long term.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Referring to the points from Jan 1 above, it is very clear that the final outcome of this person's persecution is either (a) to provoke an attack by a fanatic who believes the propaganda in question and desires revenge for some imaginary crime or threat or even attitude of mind; or (b) to drive this person to suicide by making his/her life feel pointless. Is there any redress under the law on incitement? Although this is not an incitement by one identifiable individual to commit murder, the involvement and 'motivation' of an increasingly large set of individuals means that sooner or later someone may be provoked to act.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I'm really sorry but I can't agree that is the only outcome. It certainly won't be the one that they raise.

There is an offence of incitement but it isn't made out here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I find it very difficult to know what the possible alternative outcomes might be apart from the two I have mentioned. What did you have in mind as possibilities?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I'm not sure what you mean?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Alternatives to (a) and (b) above.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I can't really say what's in their minds I'm afraid

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