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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ramsgate Pleasurama High Court Gagging Injunction Challenged

Gagging Injunction Prevents Driver From Publishing Key Pleasurama Documents
Former Councillor, Ian Driver, has accused Thanet Council (TDC)  of breaching the Human Rights Act 1998 by unlawfully depriving  him of his  freedom of expression.
In a complaint to TDC,  Driver claims that the council has  failed to release him  from  the terms of a  High Court gagging injunction which was secured against him in December 2014 in a timely and reasonable manner.  The gagging injunction prevents Driver from publishing or disseminating confidential documents produced by lawyers Pinsent Mason and property consultants Strutt and Parker about the controversial Ramsgate  seafront Pleasurama development.
TDC argued in the High Court that the  release of these documents by Driver may  have jeopardised negotiations which were then  taking place between TDC and building contractors Cardy about the development and sale  of the Pleasurama site.  Driver, who is a carer for his 2 disabled daughters, was forced to represent himself in court as legal aid is no longer avaible for contesting an injunction. He   argued that because of widespread concern about the stalled Pleasurama development and the long-term blighting of the seafront, it was in the public interest to release the document.  Following submissions from Thanet Council's expert injunction barrister, the court ruled against Driver who has now had a £23,000 charging order, plus 8% statutory annual interest placed  on his family home by TDC to cover the costs of the High Court hearing.
Said Driver, “negotiations with Cardy and TDC over the development and sale of the Pleasurama site were completed on 20th July 2016 when Cardy purchased the land for £3.515 million from the Council. There is now no longer any  legal justification for TDC to continue to hold me to the terms of the injunction. To continue to do so is unlawful and unjust and breaches  my rights to free expression  under article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights.
Driver says that if released from the injunction he will immediately publish the documents in the public interest. He said “although these documents are almost 2 years old they are still very relevant and in my opinion expose serious mismanagement by Thanet Council of the Pleasurama project which the public should know about. The documents also contain other information which will be of  great interest to the public”.
It is believed that Driver is the only  councillor in legal history to be subject to a gagging injunction by the council  he was democratically elected to oversee. Driver claims that the Council’s former Monitoring Officer told him that the  decision to secure the gagging injunction was approved by “very senior” members of Thanet Council’s then ruling Labour Cabinet,  which  at that time was led by Iris Johnston.
Gagging Injunction Against Public Interest Says Driver
Thanet South MP Craig MacKinlay, who is supporting Driver in his fight against the injunction said in a letter submitted to the judge at a cost hearing  that “the fact that an elected councillor in exercise of his own judgment in what should be brought into the public domain in the interest of his electors was then subject to effectively a “muzzling action” by the very council upon which he serves, at public expense, is highly questionable and raises important constitutional issues as to the basis and rights of elected representatives”   
Driver will be publishing an account and short video of  how and why  the injunction was secured against him in the next couple of months and will be linking this to a crowdfunding appeal which he hopes will help him clear what he described as a “politically motivated debt aimed at  silencing me and punishing my family who have done no wrong”

4 comments:

  1. Well done Ian: publish the details here or elsewhere. Cardy also went bust. Is there a petition to support you and revoke the £23k debt? Who were the TDC officials and councilors involved in this?

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  2. Hi Ian give all u have to me I'll get it out in the open 'No problem'.

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  3. So this is the thanks you get for trying to expose the incompetence of the old Labour led TDC administration. I agree with the comment above about supporting you financially e.g. via crowdfunding. I don't get any local papers where I live in Thanet, but have you thought about contacting the Daily Mail? Given that they are the biggest online newspaper in the world and would love any chance to have a go at an incompetent local council, it could help you. Not only this, they could start doing some digging as well.

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  4. Yes publish the info - who at TDC sued you? What were the costs of that?

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