Client and lawyers granted harassment injunction

Mostyn: Case cries out for indefinite ban

The High Court has granted an injunction to protect a former wife, her children and her lawyers from harassment by from her former husband, described as “an exceptionally vexatious litigant”.

Mr Justice Mostyn said that – in “blatant breach” of a restraining order he issued in January 2018 – Richard Wilmot had “bombarded” former wife Viki Maughan’s solicitor with emails, sending “dozens of messages” to the lawyer’s private email address the order.

More broadly, the airpline pilot had unleashed “a torrent of emails” in wake of the order, the judge recorded, and also said he had complained about the solicitor to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and barrister to the Bar Standards Board, and reported both of them to the police on suspicion of perjury and fraud.

Mostyn J warned that breach of the latest injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 – restraining Captain Wilmot “from pursuing any conduct which amounts to harassment” – would amount to a criminal offence.

“There can be no doubt that the respondent has grossly harassed the applicant, their children, and her legal representatives,” he said.

The judge also made a two-year general civil restraint order under the Family Procedure Rules preventing Captain Wilmot from making any application in any court without obtaining his permission.

“This is one of the worst cases of vexatious litigation misconduct that I have ever encountered. The extended order just has not worked. Therefore, a general order is amply justified.”

He continued that the case “cries out” for the Attorney General to apply for an indefinite civil proceedings order, and directed that a copy of his judgment be sent to law officer so that he could give “careful consideration” to making such an application.

The court heard in Maughan v Wilmot [2019] EWHC 2765 (Fam) that divorce proceedings between Captain Wilmot and his former wife began in 1999.

Mostyn J said: “Since then there have been dozens of hearings before numerous judges, many of whom are now retired; some are now dead.”

The judge said he made the first civil restraint order in April 2014, which had been extended by orders made by him and the Court of Appeal, currently scheduled to expire in January 2020.

Mostyn J said he hoped his January 2018 judgment “would bring closure to this case”, but it turned out to be a “hope built on sand”.

He went on: “Since then the respondent has continued his campaign against his wife, his children, and his wife’s legal representatives unrestrained. He has continued to bombard the court with emails and spurious applications.”

Mostyn J said Captain Wilmot’ activities since January 2018 had caused Ms Maughan to run up legal costs of over £42,000. This included over £10,000 in costs Ms Maughan was forced to incur “where she had to defend a grossly irresponsible allegation” that she had fraudulently procured a DNA result.

The judge ordered that Ms Maughan’s costs be summarily assessed and paid, along with ‘implementation costs’ of over £2,000, payable from part of Captain Wilmot’s pension. This is under control of a receiver appointed by the court in 2014.

Counsel for Captain Wilmot said he had been diagnosed with stress and prescribed antidepressants. A witness statement asserted that he has now retired from flying, having failed a medical, and now has no income as he has no access to his pension funds.

The court noted that there was no medical report as to his alleged condition.

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