Hourani v Thomson and others [2017] EWHC 432 (QB)

The Claimant, Issam Hourani, who was the victim of an targeted campaign, has succeeded in his claim for harassment against John Michael Waller, who directed elements of the campaign, Psybersolutions LLC (a company used by Dr Waller), and two individuals, Alastair Thomson and Brian Macarthy. The Claimant also succeeded in his claim for libel against the company, Thomson and Macarthy (Waller was not sued for libel).

After a 10-day trial, Warby J delivered a detailed Judgment on the facts and law. The Campaign, which was conducted for, and paid for by, unidentified “Client(s)” of Dr Waller, included staging two “demonstrations” in London (one of which was outside the Claimant’s home) and ensuring that these “events” were widely reported online. The court ruled that the allegation of “murder” (in relation to a young woman who died in Beirut in June 2004) was “untenable”. The Judge found that the Campaign was “highly unreasonable”, rejecting the argument that the conduct was protected by section 1(3) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (it was argued that the conduct was for the purpose of prevention or detecting crime and/or was reasonable in the circumstances).  The Judge rejected the argument (by Thomson & Macarthy) that any publication was protected by the defence in section 4 of the Defamation Act 2013 (publication on matter of public interest). The court awarded damages in the total amount of £80,000 (for the libel and harassment), specifying the amounts for which each of the four was responsible. A hearing will take place to determine consequential orders.

Heather Rogers QC, instructed by Payne Hicks Beach, was the Claimant’s Leading Counsel.