Yesterday we discussed a case that came before Mr Justice Eady at the Royal Courts of Justice, in which self-styled ‘Equity lawyer’ Edward William Ellis faced contempt proceedings as a result of breaching a General Civil Restraint Order. Phrases like ‘proceedings for committal’ were tossed around, and the outlook seems rather glum for Mr Ellis.
It appears, though, that this is not Mr Ellis’ first time around the block on this matter. In fact, the day after Sabine McNeill and Neelu Berry’s trial for conspiracy to commit witness intimidation ended, Neelu was in court yet again, this time with Hoaxtead mobster John Paterson, as well as the aforementioned Mr Ellis.
The lucky judge this time round was Mr Justice Jay, who must have needed all of his vaunted good humour to cope with this lot. Proceedings opened thus:
Honestly, Mr Justice Jay has the patience of a saint. We’d have been thinking in terms of leg irons and porridge by the end of this exchange. But this was only the beginning. Mr Chegwidden, representing the Secretary of State, Attorney-General, attempted to begin his case, but was immediately cut off by Neelu:
As it turns out, this is not the first time Neelu has turned up in court to waste Mr Justice Jay’s valuable time:
Apparently Neelu tried her famous judge-arresting trick, and when it went wrong she called the police. The same police who are constantly “illegally kidnapping” and “attempting to murder” her, if we’re not mistaken.
Neelu does her level best to hold up proceedings, but eventually things get under way. The court deals with the issue of placing a Civil Restraint Order (CRO) on a Dr Spivack, who apparently is in the habit of launching unmeritorious claims.
And then it’s John Paterson’s turn: it seems that he, too, has been attempting to bring claims that are “completely without merit”. According to Mr Chegwidden:
What I am instructed to ask is for your lordship to strike them out today and that is our application and that is where the defendant has made an application for strike out of these claims, and the reason for that is if one looks at the claims, they first of all bear a very great resemblance to the ones your lordship will already have seen, but the outstanding feature of the claims, they are always against of course numerous defendant Government departments and so on, but do not disclose reasonable grounds for bringing a legal action. There seems to be an allegation of conspiracy.
How does Mr Ellis fit into all this? We’ll let Mr Chegwidden explain:
He is already the subject of a CRO which was imposed in March, and the CRO’s terms were specifically that Mr Ellis is restrained from issuing claims on behalf of others or from assisting others to bring claims in contravention of the Legal Services Act, and [inaudible] of the Legal Services Act is reference to the fact that Mr Ellis claims to be, he calls himself an Equity lawyer, of course he is not a practising or registered solicitor of any kind and he does not possess the right to issue claims on behalf of others or to speak on behalf of others or to assist others, but that is what he has been doing. The reason why we know that Mr Ellis has been involved is that since, subsequent to the issue of the civil restraint order against Mr Ellis, Mr Ellis himself has deposed papers including a witness statement signed by him in July of this year, in which he says I have helped these individuals bring this claim.
Apparently Mr Ellis has been assisting his friends, including Neelu and John Paterson, on an industrial scale since his CRO was imposed. Mr Chegwidden notes that Mr Ellis will confirm, if asked, that he has been doing so: “The reason that he says he does so…is that he does not believe that the civil restraint order is valid against him”.
Funny, seems to us that we’ve heard that argument before, about another set of restraining orders. Rather recently, in fact.
Mr Justice Jay then calls upon John Paterson to explain himself; after a bit of haggling over who might have helped him prepare his documents, he finally admits that it might have been Mr Ellis. In fact, he tells the judge, he would like Mr Ellis to come and explain it all on his behalf. (Alarm bells, anyone?)
Mr Justice Jay attempts to explain that should Mr Ellis indicate that he has assisted John in his case, he will be held in contempt of court, which could hold very serious consequences. John’s response? He tries to claim that he is being blackmailed. Of course.
Then it’s Neelu’s turn, and she doesn’t disappoint. After explaining that one of the signatories to her demand to adjourn the day’s proceedings is in fact a lady sitting in the public gallery, she launches straight into a classic Neelu rant:
Mr Justice Jay attempts to stem the flood, but as we all know, once Neelu starts it can be very difficult to slow her down:
Eventually, though, she starts to run out of steam. Just as John Paterson did, she ends with a request to allow Mr Ellis to speak for her:
In case you missed that, it looks very much like both John Paterson and Neelu Berry managed to ensure that their friend Edward Ellis was found in contempt of court, by demonstrating to the court exactly what his role was in their respective cases. Impressive, by any standard.
In the end, Mr Justice Jay found that Mr Ellis was “probably in breach of the civil restraint order and it follows that proceedings for contempt of court should be brought against him. It is not for me to rule on the application but the Government Legal Department will take steps now under Part 81.10 of the Civil Procedure Rules to bring a committal application against Mr Edward William Ellis on the basis that he has acted in breach of the CRO. Whether in fact he had acted in breach of the CRO or whether he has a good explanation or a defence will be for another judge to decide”.
As for John Paterson, Mr Justice Jay stated that his claims “are apt to be struck out on elementary principles. They do not disclose a cause of action. They are incoherent. What is alleged does not give rise to a private claim brought by a citizen against the State. In any event, the matters complained of are far too vaguely alleged possibly to give rise to a cause of action which this court would wish to entertain. So the claims are properly described as vexatious, they disclose no reasonable cause of action, they are totally without merit, and they really should never have seen the light of day. So I am striking out the claims in, to be clear about this, HQ16X01488 and HQ16X01307. This means that in relation to Mr Paterson he has brought a plethora of vexatious claims. He must be restrained from bringing further claims and I am going to make against him a general civil restraint order”.
He also issued a warning to Neelu and her friend Patrick Coyle, who was also present in court that day: “In the event that further enquiries demonstrate that there have been or in the event that further claims are brought and are struck out, it is inevitable that civil restraint orders will be issued against Mrs Berry and Mr Coyle. Inevitable as night follows day, so I give that warning”.
We expect that Neelu will take this caution exactly as seriously as she took the restraining order which was imposed on her the previous day; but she really can’t say she wasn’t warned.
You can read the entire proceedings on Neelu’s Comedy Court Remedies blog; learned legal critics have likened the saga to nailing jelly to the ceiling, and we’re inclined to agree.