Village blogger libelled ‘townie’ neighbours in row over unregistered land

An unresolved dispute between neighbours over the possession of a 30-metre triangle of grassland has led to the award of £15,000 in libel damages in opposition to a blogger. The case is the newest improvement in a feud which constructed up after the arrival of a retired dentist and his accountant accomplice in the Lake District village of Rosgill.

In Wozniak & Anor v Randall, the Excessive Courtroom – sitting in the County Courtroom in North Shields due to the pandemic – heard that the dispute involved unregistered land located between two plots purchased by Dr Richard Wozniak and Bridget Kelly in 2015. The land was used on the idea of a proper of approach by each the brand new arrivals and their neighbours. In 2017, the courtroom heard, Wozniak’s solicitors suggested him he had a declare to possession below the ‘advert medium filum’ precept. In the meantime, Chloe Randall, writer of the ‘Involved of Rosgill’ web site utilized to the Lake District Nationwide Park Authority for an order below the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 including a byway open to all visitors alongside the disputed space. 

The dispute escalated with ‘many… sad incidents’ set out in 17 pages in the judgment, together with allegations of assault and harassment, a cattle stampede, the set up of gates, rows about parking and allegations of theft of garbage luggage. 

Wozniak and Kelly sued Randall over 9 net articles describing them, amongst different issues, as ‘offensive people’, ‘townies’, ‘social pariahs’ and ‘liars, thieves and bullies’. Randall provided a defence of reality below the Defamation Act 2013. 

Giving judgment, Mr Justice Soole noticed that each side ‘have been well-matched each in the depth of their beliefs as to the rightness of their place and in the assets deployed’. Wozniak, he stated, ‘got here throughout as a person with a really robust sense of his perceived authorized rights and of his willpower to uphold them in opposition to any perceived wrongful problem. That is coupled with a fashion which is comparatively rigid and never readily leavened by humour.’

For her half, Randall has ‘intensely-held views as to the perceived historic consumer rights of native residence’. Whereas describing her as an sincere witness, the decide stated that ‘her ardour for Rosgill and its perceived rights and traditions has on events overtaken her judgement.’ 

The decide discovered six of the complained of articles to be defamatory, together with assembly the check below the 2013 act of inflicting ‘critical hurt to the popularity of the claimant’. 

He discovered that every claimant ought to be awarded £7,500 in damages. Prices had been estimated at £66,000. 

Noting that ‘I don’t want to give any encouragement to any continuation of this litigation’, the decide agreed to an order permitting the claimants to restrain any additional publication of the libels. 

 

Robert Sterling, instructed by Cumbria agency Bell Park Kerridge, appeared for the claimants; the defendant was unrepresented. 

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