AN Ashley man’s latest libel action against the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times (A&T) has been thrown out and he has been ordered to pay the newspaper more than £24,000 in costs on top of £34,000 he already owed.
John Caine (59) was found by a High Court judge to have “persistently” issued legal claims and applications that were “totally without merit” including a number against the A&T and its directors.
Mr Caine was hit with a two-year Extended Civil Restraint Order (ECRO), which means between now and 23rd August 2021 he will need the permission of a High Court judge before he can launch a claim or application related to his three failed libel actions.
One of the libel claims was over a report of a trial which Mr Caine said defamed him. His two subsequent claims alleged he was defamed by A&T directors, Eddie Curry and Caroline Woodford, when they each ‘liked’ a Facebook page called ‘New Milton Watch The Truth’.
The A&T contested the claims, resulting in a series of hearings at the Royal Courts of Justice at which Mr Caine represented himself.
After judges stayed and struck out the first two libel actions, he appealed and issued a third claim almost identical to the second, culminating in the latest hearing in which A&T applied for the strike-out of the latest claim and an ECRO.
In his judgment handed down on 23rd August 2019 Deputy Judge Richard Spearman QC ruled that Mr Caine’s third claim would be struck out and was “totally without merit”.
During the hearing the court considered four historical ‘totally without merit’ applications brought by the claimant in relation to judicial reviews relating to ‘educational matters’.
Because of that history and the more recent conduct Deputy Judge Spearman was asked by the A&T’s legal team to make an ECRO.
Agreeing to do so, Deputy Judge Spearman said: “In my judgement Mr Caine has persistently issued claims or made applications which are totally without merit.”
Deputy Judge Spearman added there was “more than an element of persistence in the irrational refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer”.
He continued: “Further, I consider that an ECRO is necessary to protect the court’s process from further abuse.
“The existence of such a risk is amply demonstrated by Mr Caine’s past conduct, and is in no way diminished by his response to the applications that are before me, which in my judgement has demonstrated a blinkered and self-righteous determination to press on with his chosen course of litigation and a lack of insight as to its objective merits, its effect on others, and its demands on the resources of the court.”
The A&T said after the ruling: “This has been a long and costly process but we were determined to contest each claim, two of which the courts have concluded were totally without merit.”
Mr Caine has indicated that he intends to seek permission to appeal the ruling.
The full judgement is available at www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2019/2278.html.
Late owner’s son exonerated over LPA
THE ruling by Deputy Judge Spearman noted that John Caine knew the late former A&T proprietor Charles Curry – the father of Eddie Curry and Caroline Woodford.
Prior to the onset of dementia, Eddie had been granted a Lasting Power of Attorney, which allows someone to nominate a trusted family member or friend to make legal decisions on their behalf when they are unable to do so.
Charles agreed to the LPA and as his condition deteriorated Eddie took control of his financial affairs in January 2015 to ensure the newspaper could continue to operate. Charles died earlier this year aged 98.
In his ruling, the judge said: “Mr Caine is a local businessman, living in New Milton, who knew their late father, Charles Curry – Mr Caine would say as a friend, but they would say as someone who began unjustifiably meddling in his affairs by advising him (when he was suffering from dementia) to revoke a Lasting Power of Attorney given in Mr [Eddie] Curry’s favour.
“Among other things Mr Caine’s intervention resulted in the involvement of the Office of the Public Guardian.
“However, the Lasting Power of Attorney was not revoked, and Mr [Eddie] Curry was exonerated of wrongdoing,” it added.