Thomas v News Group Newspapers Ltd: CA 18 Jul 2001

The publication of articles in a newspaper describing how a ‘black clerk’ had complained about the allegedly racist comments of two policemen was said to have caused the claimant to receive racist hate mail.
Held: The court considered the type of conduct which had to be proved to bring the case within the statute.
Publication of press articles is, in law, capable of amounting to harassment albeit in only very rare circumstances. Lord Phillips MR said that: ‘Section 7 of the 1997 Act does not purport to provide a comprehensive definition of harassment. There are many actions that foreseeably alarm or cause a person distress that could not possibly be described as harassment. It seems to me that section 7 is dealing with that element of the offence which is constituted by the effect of the conduct rather than with the types of conduct that produce that effect.
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.’


Lord Phillips MR, Jonathan Parker LJ, Mustill J


[2001] EWCA Civ 1233, [2002] EMLR 4




Civil Procedure Rules 24, Protection from Harassment Act 1997, European Convention on Human Rights 10, Human Rights Act 1998 12(4)


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedCallaghan v Independent News and Media Ltd QBNI 7-Jan-2009
The claimant was convicted in 1987 of a callous sexual murder. He sought an order preventing the defendant newspaper publishing anything to allow his or his family’s identification and delay his release. The defendant acknowledged the need to avoid . .
CitedJones and Another v Ruth and Another CA 12-Jul-2011
The parties were neighbours. The claimants succeeded in their assertion of trespass and nuisance in building works carried out by the defendant. The claimant appealed against the judge’s failure to award damages for harassment, saying that though . .
CitedIqbal v Mansoor and Others QBD 26-Aug-2011
The claimant sought the disapplication of the limitation period in order to pursue the defendant solicitors, his former employers, in defamation. . .
CitedGerrard and Another v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Ltd and Another QBD 27-Nov-2020
The claimants, a solicitor and his wife, sought damages in harassment and data protection, against a party to proceedings in which he was acting professionally, and against the investigative firm instructed by them. The defendants now requested the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Civil Procedure Rules, Torts – Other, Media, Human Rights

Updated: 26 May 2022; Ref: scu.279854