A BLOGGER and journalist is claiming a victory for free speech after a 10-year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) barring him from contacting community leaders near his home was quashed by the High Court.
Christopher Perry, 66, was handed the order at Hull Magistrates’ Court in January, when District Judge Frederick Rutherford condemned his “obvious anti-social behaviour”, although Mr Perry claimed that in publishing articles on his former website, Wolds Eye View, he was “doing the job any decent citizen would do”.
The order prevented him from contacting a number of people in the Driffield and Wetwang areas, including the Rev Robert Amos, Driffield town clerk Richard Wood and former Driffield Mayor Steve Poessl.
Mr Amos had said that as well as falsely claiming he was a major property dealer who stood to make millions out of a new church building in the centre of Driffield, Mr Perry started posting comments and pictures of him as he went about his business, snapping him as he picked up his lunch and even popping up in his back garden. He claimed that when challenged Mr Perry told him: “I am going to bring you down with my journalism.”
Commenting on the granting of the ASBO, which was applied for by Humberside Police and East Riding Council, Mr Wood, a former police inspector, said he and his wife felt “immense” relief at the end of a “two-year tirade of harassment”.
But overturning the order the High Court found that the district judge had been “perfunctory and dismissive” in his consideration of Mr Perry’s right of freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Reacting to the ruling, Mr Perry, of Southfield Close, Wetwang, near Driffield, said: “They said the police were extremely wrong to try and substitute civil defamation proceedings with ASBOs to stop people expressing their right to free speech. I think this has serious implications with poor legal advice for the police and poor legal advice for East Riding Council.”
He added: “I had to find £20,000 - money set aside for retirement - and had to go to London in order to get justice.
“I think it’s surreal and as a journalist I know how the police like to cover things up and not give you the full version of events, and I’ve had bucketfuls of that. All I was doing was my job of legitimate public inquiry.”
A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said: “Humberside Police have been made aware of the decision made by the court of appeal in connection with the ASBO given to Christopher Perry. The force will now take time to consider the ruling.”