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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Judges reject bid to have Stobart Group boss prosecuted

Top judges have thrown out an attempt to have Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler prosecuted for allegedly lying in court, saying the man behind the claim has conducted a “relentless crusade” against the entrepreneur.

Peter Elliott photo
Peter Elliott

Three judges in the Appeal Court in London dismissed all 58 allegations that have been made by Peter Elliott.

The helicopter pilot was described by the judges in the case as a “vexatious litigant”, somebody who has repeatedly made legal claims which were shown to have no merit.

As a result, Elliott, from Appleby, has been made the subject of a rare “general civil restraining order”, which means he would need permission from a senior judge before he is allowed to lodge any further legal claims.

Responding to the judgement today, a spokesman for Mr Tinkler said the judges have emphatically exonerated him and Mr Howarth.

Elliott, an aviation consultant, was last year given permission to bring contempt proceedings against Mr Tinkler and his legal director Trevor Howarth on seven of the allegations he has made.

But that decision was yesterday dramatically overturned by the Appeal Court judges in London.

Formerly employed by Mr Tinkler at Carlisle Airport until an acrimonious split, Elliott claimed in 2007 that the Stobart boss’s then business, WA Developments International (WADI), operated flights from the city airport in breach of aviation rules.

He subsequently accused Mr Tinkler of lying in court.

The senior judges who considered the latest case – Lady Justice Arden, Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Christopher Clarke – threw out Elliott’s claim, saying the original judge had failed correctly to apply the test for bringing contempt proceedings to the facts.

Their 33-page judgement notes how Elliott, from Appleby, had conducted a “‘relentless crusade” against the two Stobart executives.

Overturning Judge Mark Pelling’s ruling, they said he was wrong to conclude in relation to each of the allegations that there appeared to be a strong potential case.

The judges also ruled that Mr Elliott demonstrated he was a “vexatious litigant”, saying he could not be regarded an appropriate person to bring public interest proceedings.

The judgement states: “He [the judge] failed to take any, or any sufficient, account of the fact that ...Mr Elliott has clearly demonstrated that he was a vexatious litigant with an agenda to pursue in relation to his past relationship with the Stobart parties and was not an appropriate guardian of the public interest.

“He was wrong to conclude that it was in the public interest that such allegations should proceed to a full committal hearing.”

This was not a case in which false statements made during court proceedings had gone unpunished.

Mr Elliott had shown himself to be someone who paid no regard to court orders, the judgement states, but on the contrary was prepared to flout the processes of the court in the most serious way.

In a statement yesterday, a spokeswoman for Mr Tinkler and Mr Howarth said they had always had confidence in the judicial system and, in the seven years that Peter Elliott has pursued his crusade, all claims he has made were proved to be without merit.

Mr Elliott is now subject to a two general civil restraint order and this, along with yesterday’s judgement, should allow Mr Tinkler and Mr Howarth to get back to business, she said.

She added: “Today Andrew Tinkler and Trevor Howarth were fully exonerated by the Court of Appeal of all the claims brought by Peter Elliott.”

During an earlier hearing, Mr Elliott claimed he had been “prosecuted, silenced, jailed and bankrupted for telling the truth”.

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