Court orders £100k bill for Hertsmere harassment campaign

PUBLISHED: 13:27 28 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:14 28 April 2017

The case has cost  the council at least £100,000.

The case has cost the council at least £100,000.

Archant

A row over a tree that escalated into a campaign of harassment against Hertsmere Borough Council has cost an obsessive householder £100,000.

The High Court has granted the authority, which governs Potters Bar and neighbouring villages, a charge against a house belonging to Thomas Cullen of Nightingale Road, Bushey as a contribution to its legal costs.

Over a period of several years, Mr Cullen repeatedly accused councillors and council officers of dishonesty, corruption and misconduct following rejection of his complaint about a tree protection order, relating to a neighbour’s garden.

Despite several warning letters from lawyers, Mr Cullen visited councillors at their homes, and disrupted council meetings.

In October last year, just as a High Court hearing was about to start, Mr Cullen agreed his allegations were false, and gave a binding undertaking to stop his harassment.

But in January and February this year he repeated his allegations on Facebook, and made a false allegation of theft to the police.

Now the High Court has ordered him to apologise on social media and remove earlier postings.

It has also confirmed the £100,000 property charge, which will protect the council’s interests whenever the house is sold.

Council chief executive Donald Graham said: “I hope this now brings to a halt a very unpleasant campaign against members and officers.

“As a public body, we expect to be challenged by residents on those occasions when they feel aggrieved over our decisions and actions.�

“We have a robust complaints process in place to enable individuals to do this, which aims to ensure that a complaint is assessed objectively and, where possible, that a resolution is found.

“However, officers and elected�members also have the right to expect to be able to carry out their work and duties without fear of harassment or abuse in any form.

“I hope this case sends out a clear message that the council will take a robust stance against any individual who embarks on any such campaign of abuse and that, where necessary, we will take legal action to remedy.”


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