Thomas v News Group Newspapers Ltd and Simon Hughes: CA 18 Jul 2001

A civilian police worker had reported officers for racist remarks. The newspaper repeatedly printed articles and encouraged correspondence which was racially motivated, to the acute distress of the complainant.
Held: Repeated newspaper stories which were known to create distress, could amount to harassment under the Act. The freedom of the press could be set aside where it was used in contravention of the Convention’s underlying values.
Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers MR: ‘The Act does not attempt to define the type of conduct that is capable of constituting harassment. ‘Harassment’ is, however, a word which has a meaning which is generally understood. It describes conduct targeted at an individual which is calculated to produce the consequences described in section 7 and which is oppressive and unreasonable. The practice of stalking is a prime example of such conduct.’
May LJ: ‘Thus, in my view, although section 7(2) provides that harassing a person includes causing the person distress, the fact that a person suffers distress is not by itself enough to show that the cause of the distress was harassment. The conduct has also to be calculated, in an objective sense, to cause distress and has to be oppressive and unreasonable. It has to be conduct which the perpetrator knows or ought to know amounts to harassment, and conduct which a reasonable person would think amounted to harassment. What amounts to harassment is, as Lord Phillips said, generally understood. Such general understanding would not lead to a conclusion that all forms of conduct, however reasonable, would amount to harassment simply because they cause distress.’


Phillips of Worth Matravers MR, Jonathan Parker LJ, Mustill LJ, May LJ


Times 25-Jul-2001, [2001] EWCA Civ 1233, [2002] EMLR 78




Protection from Harassment Act 1997 7


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedUniversity of Oxford and others v Broughton and others QBD 10-Nov-2004
The claimants sought injunctions to protect themselves against the activities of animal rights protesters, including an order preventing them coming with a wide area around the village.
Held: The orders made were justified with the additional . .
CitedBanks v Ablex Ltd CA 24-Feb-2005
The claimant appealed denial of her claim for damages for psychological injury. She complained that her employer had failed to prevent her and other female employees being bullied by a co-worker, and they committed a breach of statutory duty in . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust CA 16-Mar-2005
The claimant had sought damages against his employer, saying that they had failed in their duty to him under the 1997 Act in failing to prevent harassment by a manager. He appealed a strike out of his claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The . .
CitedKD v Chief Constable of Hampshire QBD 23-Nov-2005
The claimant’s daughter had made a complaint of rape. She alleged that she was sexually harassed by the investigating police officer, and sought damages also from the defendant, his employer. The officer denied that anything improper or . .
CitedHelen Green v DB Group Services (UK) Ltd QBD 1-Aug-2006
The claimant sought damages from her former employers, asserting that workplace bullying and harassment had caused injury to her health. She had had a long term history of depression after being abused as a child, and the evidence was conflicting, . .
CitedCheltenham Borough Council v Laird QBD 15-Jun-2009
The council sought damages saying that their former chief executive had not disclosed her history of depressive illness when applying for her job.
Held: The replies were not dishonest as the form could have been misconstrued. The claim failed. . .
CitedIqbal v Dean Manson Solicitors CA 15-Feb-2011
The claimant sought protection under the Act from his former employers’ behaviour in making repeated allegations against him. He appealed against the striking out of his claim.
Held: The appeal suceeded. The matter should go to trial. The . .
CitedGoodwin v NGN Ltd and VBN QBD 9-Jun-2011
The claimant had obtained an injunction preventing publication of his name and that of his coworker with whom he had had an affair. After widespread publication of his name elsewhere, the defendant had secured the discharge of the order as regards . .
CitedAPW v WPA QBD 8-Nov-2012
The claimant sought orders restricting publication by or on behalf of the defendant of confidential matters concerning their relationship. The defendant had refused to offer undertakings, saying that he had had no iintention to make any such . .
CitedHayes v Willoughby SC 20-Mar-2013
The claimant and appellant had been employer and employee who had fallen out, with a settlement in 2005. The appellant then began an unpleasant and obsessive personal vendetta against Mr Hayes, complaining to public bodies with allegations of tax . .
CitedCrawford v Jenkins CA 24-Jul-2014
The parties had divorced but acrimony continued. H now complained of his arrests after allegations from his former wife that he had breached two orders. He had been released and no charges followed. The court had ruled that W’s complaints were . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Torts – Other, Human Rights

Updated: 25 May 2022; Ref: scu.136167