Google litigant described as “obsessional and vexatious”
An “obsessional” litigant in person who bombarded a senior Pinsent Masons lawyer with “more than 100 text messages” has been handed an extended civil restraint order (ECRO) by the High Court.
According to a judgment published earlier this week, Camille Saskia Richardson began a legal action against Google UK in January 2015. A further two sets of proceedings were subsequently issued along with numerous applications.
All legal matters related to whether the tech giant was liable in law for publishing content Richardson was unhappy with on its “Blogger” and “Google Plus” services.
With Google seeking an ECRO against Richardson, One Brick Court’s Catrin Evans QC — counsel for Google — described Richardson’s behaviour as “obsessional and vexatious”.
Supporting Evans QC’s claim, it was revealed that Pinsent Masons partner David Barker — who was acting for the search engine giant during proceedings — had received “more than 100 text messages” from Richardson.
Accepting that Barker had been bombarded with messages “day and night”, Mr Justice Eady — sitting in the High Court — said:
Mr Barker has explained the nature of the communications which have been directed towards his firm and the sheer volume (received at all times of day and night). So far as Mr Barker himself is concerned, there have been, I am told, more than 100 text messages to his mobile phone. My attention was drawn to disturbing matters raised by the claimant, not only to him but also to Ms Evans, and references to the Claimant’s own personal history. Whether they are accurate or not I do not know, but they have no relevance to the claims against the first defendant.
Richardson also claimed that lawyers acting for Google had made inappropriate and insensitive comments towards her. According to the judgment, Richardson filed complaints to a number of “professional bodies”. Continuing, Eady J said:
There have been complaints to the professional bodies and I am told that the complaint to the Bar Standards Board has been already summarily dismissed. It is not only a question of distress or embarrassment caused to the individuals concerned, or a question of the cost which is incurred in dealing with such matters. The point has also been made, particularly in relation to court staff, that when their time is taken up in dealing with them, the time available for other court users and other duties is correspondingly reduced.
With Richardson’s outstanding liability in relation to costs currently standing at well over £100,000 according to the judgment, Evans QC flagged up her pattern of “issuing and discontinuance”. Continuing, Eady J said:
The claimant has issued and then discontinued, or threatened to discontinue, on four occasions so far. There were the Manchester District Registry proceedings, which were discontinued on 23rd September last year; the discontinuance against Google Inc of the same proceedings on 10th March this year; the first notice of discontinuance in relation to the claim based on fraud against the first defendant on 26th February; and then the actual discontinuance of the claim on 26th May.
Finding in favour of Google and describing the case as “a sad story in many ways” Eady J issued Richardson with an ECRO for the maximum 2 year period.