From time to time, an individual’s involvement in the justice system, often initially by chance through a minor criminal conviction, a divorce, or a property dispute, seems to awake in them a latent desire for the practice of law. Some of them become the vexatious litigants-in-person, or ‘professional’ McKenzie Friends of nightmares. Their original cause eventually becomes forgotten as one perceived injustice provokes another, and they seek to weaponise the system, sometimes becoming as au fait with litigation procedure as some lawyers. When all legitimate routes are exhausted, they often fall back on the court of public opinion, seeking to ‘expose’ the system which, finally, has rejected them. It is a familiar story for most litigators, many of whom will seek to avoid such individuals, regardless of how much they might be paid to tackle them.
Eze Kinsley Ezeugo is a non-lawyer with much litigation experience. Believing himself the victim of harassment by the Metropolitan Police, he launched a claim against them back in 2007 which would rumble on for several years. Not long thereafter, he found himself accused of a number of unrelated criminal offences. He has since gone on to bring dozens of legal challenges, variously by way of appeal, appeal by way of case stated, and judicial review, in connection with his convictions, and by way of litigation against the supposed architects of his downfall, such as the Police and the Legal Aid Agency. He has also represented his wife in proceedings against her. Extended civil restraint orders have been made against him in the Administrative Court on at least two occasions.
Eventually, Ezeugo took his quest for justice to the internet, where he ran a social media and email campaign against three Judges in particular: (1) Mr Justice Foskett, a High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division who had heard various unsuccessful claims/applications by Ezeugo, (2) Her Honour Judge Peters, before whom Ezeugo had been convicted by Jury at Chelmsford Crown Court of offences contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and (3) Deputy District Judge Washckuhn, who had heard a County Court claim against Ezeugo’s wife (in which Ezeugo had appeared). In DDJ Washckuhn’s case, Ezeugo, having already begun his campaign against Foskett J and HHJ Peters, warned her during the course of the hearing that she would face the same if she did not make a just decision. The campaign consisted of allegations of corruption, and cover ups, which Judges are not infrequently accused of by people whom they rule against. However, it also went further, making some particularly heinous allegations. In addition to social media posts, and emails, Ezeugo was in the habit of appearing outside the Royal Courts of Justice with a megaphone to ‘demonstrate’. Family members were also targeted.
In May 2017, the three Judges issued proceedings against Ezeugo, seeking injunctive relief pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. They obtained an interim injunction, followed by summary judgment and a final injunction in October 2017.
In 2018, the three Judges applied for Ezeugo’s committal for contempt, alleging 178 breaches of the injunction. Essentially, the campaign against them had continued. Ezeugo argued that he was innocent of the breaches because the injunction had not been lawfully made and that the application was the latest episode in a wide-ranging conspiracy against him.
Sir Peter Openshaw (sitting as a judge of the High Court) held that 175 of the 178 breaches were proved to the criminal standard. He could not be certain that Ezeugo had deliberately breached the order by attending the RCJ. As to the social media posts and emails, these were admitted, and amounted to a considered course of conduct which had been carried out in spite of warnings about the prospect of committal. Ezeugo had shown complete disregard for the injunction, and no remorse. A custodial sentence was therefore inevitable, and a 12-month term was imposed.
This post originally appeared on the Brett Wilson Media Law blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks.