High Court order to halt harassment
PUBLISHED: 11:43 10 November 2006 | UPDATED: 22:21 28 May 2010
A WOMAN accused of bombarding a March family doctor with hate mail was this week ordered to desist by a High Court judge. Dr Wendy Harrison, of the Cornerstone Practice, Elwyn Road, says former patient Susan Cole has for almost three years subjected he
A WOMAN accused of "bombarding" a March family doctor with hate mail was this week ordered to desist by a High Court judge.
Dr Wendy Harrison, of the Cornerstone Practice, Elwyn Road, says former patient Susan Cole has for almost three years subjected her to a campaign of harassment.
Describing Ms Cole as "fixated", the GP's lawyer, Simon Cridland, told London's High Court her campaign had recently worsened, leaving Dr Harrison in fear that it might "escalate into violence".
In one "particularly distressing" incident on October 27, Mr Cridland said Ms Cole threw a letter at the practice's receptionist, in which she described Dr Harrison as "hateful" and said she was looking forward to seeing her in court.
Ms Cole did not appear in court to hear Mr Justice Eady issue a temporary injunction against her, forbidding her from doing anything which amounts to harassment of the GP.
After refusing a written request to adjourn the case, the judge said: "On the evidence I have seen there is clearly a long history of acts and communications that could be described as harassment."
He directed that the injunction must not be so widely drafted as to conflict unreasonably with Ms Cole's freedom of expression, enshrined in the Human Rights Act.
Ruling that nothing in the court order should prevent her making complaints to official bodies, the judge told Mr Cridland: "However unlikely it may seem to you, she may, in the end, turn out to have a legitimate complaint."
The judge also left open the door for Ms Cole, of Maple Grove, March, to apply to the court to vary or discharge the injunction. As she was neither present nor represented at the hearing another hearing is likely within the next few weeks at which she will have a chance to put her case.
Mr Cridland earlier told the judge that Ms Cole had subjected the GP to a "constant bombardment" of abusive mail.
In documents before the court, he said Ms Cole had been a patient of Dr Harrison's between October 2003 and February 2004 when he claimed her sustained campaign of harassment began.
Ms Cole had complained about the GP to the Primary Care Trust, the General Medical Council and the Health Service Ombudsman, and had sent letters to colleagues of Dr Harrison, her husband and others.
In a letter in March this year, Mr Cridland claimed Ms Cole had described Dr Harrison as "an evil, malicous, psychopathic witch".
Copies of an annotated letter and a newspaper article had also been sellotaped to the surgery and other premises, claimed Mr Cridland, who said he understood Fenland Council had removed similar notices from lampposts and telegraph polls in March.
If Ms Cole breaches the temporary injunction, she could be held in contempt of court for which the ultimate penalty is prison.