Police’s £230,000 bill to curb website commenting trio

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North Yorkshire Police has defended its spend of almost a quarter of a million pounds fighting a civil harassment case over online articles.

The final case against three individuals was settled last week.

In February 2015, nine people, including three serving police officers and former councillor Jane Kenyon-Miller, applied for a civil injunction against Peter Hofschroer, Timothy Hicks and Nigel Ward, on the grounds of alleged harassment.

The civil case was financially supported by North Yorkshire Police.

In December 2015, the court gave summary judgement and granted a five year injunction against Peter Hofschroer.

In June, a consent order was made with Tim Hicks. Within the order, he undertook not to contact them, or publish materials commenting on their behaviour, for a period of two years.

The final hearing in July 2016 dealt with matters between Nigel Ward, of Whitby, and Mrs Kenyon-Miller.

A police spokesman said: “In advance of the hearing Nigel Ward agreed not to contact the claimant for a period of two years, or comment on their behaviour.

“First and foremost, the police are there to protect the public, and this civil action has helped victims in the absence of a criminal case remedy.

“The civil action has also given the police officer claimants relief from the harassment they suffered.

“Police officers, along with other people in public life, are used to a high degree of scrutiny, and even a level of criticism – that goes with the territory. But when criticism becomes harassment, we have a duty of care to take action and support our officers. That is what we have done in this case.

“Taking this matter to court has cost the police service in the region of £230,000, but to do nothing and allow the harassment to continue, would have cost an even greater sum in police time and resources.”