What was the judgment when Lancashire Constabulary requested an anti-social behaviour order against Mr Ponting and why were £30,000 costs awarded?
Unfortunately there is no report on day 3 of the trial (held on Wednesday 11th March 2020). The hearing originally scheduled for day 4 (Thursday 12th March 2020) was vacated to allow time for HHJ Knifton QC to write his judgment. So day 4 of the trial in Court Room 26 at Liverpool County Court, Liverpool was held scheduled to start at 2.00 pm on Friday 13th March 2020 for those present to hear the judgement of HHJ Knifton QC in case F70LV339 (Chief Constable of Lancashire Police v Ponting).
After people had sat down, HHJ Knifton QC poured water into his glass and arranged his papers.
HHJ Knifton QC started by referring to the invention of the internet and world wide web as one of the technological achievements of the twentieth century which had revolutionised communication with friends and family around the world.
However it was also a platform for those who wished to spread malicious information. Whereas previously there had been conversations in a pub, the use of a website and social media potentially had an audience in the thousands. The term “troll” had been used to describe a person who used inflammatory language and comments to provoke others or to cause upset and distress. HHJ Knifton QC then commented on the effects of trolling.
Mr Paul Ponting ran a computer business in Ormskirk. In May 2013 he dismissed an employee called Paul Turner. There was a hate campaign to cause distress to the Defendant and his family, which was reported to the police and resulted in a harassment notice. In the ensuing months that followed there were allegations and counter allegations made by Paul Turner and Paul Ponting. This culminated in a post calling the Defendant Paul Ponting a **********.
HHJ Knifton QC accepted without hesitation the distress this caused the Defendant and his family. It affected his mental health, Mrs Ponting was tearful in evidence because of the strain of supporting her husband in excess of five years. After making this allegation the he threatened suicide on more than one occasion.
A psychiatric report was detailed at pages 654-697 of the trial bundle.
The Defendant had always considered that with regards to the police response he believed that Mr Turner should have been arrested, but the reason he wasn’t the Defendant believed was because Paul Turner was a police informant.
The Defendant made a series of complaints to Lancashire Police, which on each occasion was investigated by the Professional Standards Department of Lancashire Police. It was not in dispute that between 2013 to 2019, 51 complaints were made containing 81 allegations, an average of one a month. Only six resulted in management action such as informal advice to the officer concerned. The vast majority were dismissed, none resulted in any disciplinary action.
On the 18th June 2014 police officers attended at the Defendant’s home to update the Defendant regarding the allegations he had made against Mr Turner. Events became hea