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20 Feb 2009 - 28 Jun 2009

Pubwatch scheme legality challenged - again

London's High Court has paved the way for another test case on the legality of banning people from pubs via pubwatch.

One of the country’s senior judges gave the green light for a High Court hearing later this year, in which a ban imposed on the alleged victim of a pub fight from going to any pubs in Haverhill be challenged.

Last year the High Court ruled that student Matthew Proud could not seek a judicial review of his ban by Buckingham Pubwatch. The Court of Appeal also threw out the case, ruling that pubwatch is not a public body and therefore a judicial review could not be sought.

The latest case is centred on the process under which a ban was issued. Mr Justice Perigrine Simon today gave permission for Francis James Boyle of Elm Close, Haverhill, to challenge a ban imposed on him after at a meeting of Haverhill Pubwatch, which he was banned from attending. The ban was imposed following an incident at the Black Horse pub in Haverhill, in which Boyle was said in papers before the court to have been attacked by a man called Roy Sullivan. Both were then made subject of year-long banning orders from Haverhill Pubwatch pubs in February 2007.

The court heard Boyle’s ban was extended by two years as he continued going to pubs or trying to go to pubs. Written submissions to the court said : “The original ban was imposed following a meeting of the Haverhill Pubwatch from which Mr Boyle was deliberately excluded. “He was not invited to make any oral or written representations. He was not subsequently informed of the basis upon which the Pubwatch decision was taken.”

Lawyers for Boyle, who says the decision has ruined his life, argued that Haverhill Pubwatch had acted “illegally and irrationally”. They said its decision to exclude Boyle was “flawed by procedural impropriety”. They claim it was illegal because Pubwatch extended the ban in direct contravention of Suffolk Police Policies and Procedures for Pubwatch. They said it was irrational because by extending the ban they acted “in bad faith and for an improper purpose”.

They also accuse Mussett in particular, and other members of Haverhill Pubwatch, of using the organisation as “a convenient vehicle through which they can pursue a personal vendetta against Mr Boyle”. They additionally claim that Boyle’s Human Rights to a fair hearing were infringed.

In ruling that there should be a full hearing Mr Justice Simon said : “In my view the grounds are arguable.” He said there was a public interest in the matter on the basis of what he described as the “secret process” under which the ban was imposed on Mr Boyle

 
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