Thursday, 21 February 2019

Metropolitan Police pay me £10,000 in compensation.

The Metropolitan Police have paid me £10,000 in general damages with regards to the very serious misconduct of Detective Inspector Julian King and Detective Constable Phil Dial in which they:

- Both refused to watch CCTV evidence I provided them with, and never looked at text messages that showed Eleanor de Freitas had made a false allegation of rape.

- Both knew that Eleanor de Freitas had a history of making false rape complaints, but let her get away with it again and again.

- Detective Inspector King also breached the data protection act releasing my confidential information  to the de Freitas family without my consent.

Last year, the Daily Mail briefly reported the Police Misconduct. Click here to see the article. The officers are still under investigation by the IPCC and are facing a misconduct hearing at some point in the future. The outcome of that investigation is not yet known and that procedure is separate from my case against the police.

As well as receiving compensation from the police, it is possible that the officers will face disciplinary action if they are found guilty.

Watch this space.


Monday, 7 January 2019

David de Freitas bankrupts me.

Six seeks weeks ago I lost my appeal (in the court of appeal) which meant I had to pay David de Freitas legal costs. The judge ordered me to pay an "interim payment" of £400,000 by the 19th December 2018, but I had run out of money.

Mr de Freitas legal bill is probably somewhere around £1.8m. I didn't make the payment of £400,000 so David de Freitas applied to have me bankrupted and that's what has happened. It's no secret, the bankruptcy is being advertised in the Gazette as with all bankrupts, so might as well put it here as part of the narrative.

I've moved out of my flat I lived in for 19 years and now living in a rental. That flat will be sold to pay off Mr de Freitas legal bill. It's all a bit sad, but it can't get any worse than this. There is nothing to lose at this stage.

Overcoming setbacks and making comebacks are what makes life interesting, so even though I should be depressed I am actually pretty upbeat and excited about the future. It only gets better from here.  Bring on 2019!

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Court of Appeal Judgement (Alexander Economou v David de Freitas): Court agrees I was seriously harmed and there was no truth to David de Freitas press campaign, but lets him get away with it.

PRESS STATEMENT ON TODAYS COURT OF APPEAL DECISION

Four years ago David de Freitas made a series of defamatory allegations in the national press implying I had raped his daughter. At the time my family received death threats and my life was turned upside down [see here] .

I asked him to stop and threatened legal action [see here] but Mr de Freitas continued to repeat his allegations. It was after the fifth defamatory statement that I commenced legal proceedings.

Several months later his lawyers stated that he would continue going to the press and that nothing could prevent him from repeating the 'words complained of' [see here].

I had two choices: Do nothing and be labelled a rapist for the rest of my life, or go to court, clear my name and get an injunction preventing repetition.

A trial date was set for June 2016. Three months before trial I made a 'without prejudice' offer asking for nominal damages of £1 and 25% of my legal costs to settle the case, on condition Mr de Freitas accepted liability. All I ever wanted was to clear my name. [see here]

I never received any response to my settlement offer and the trial went ahead. The judge accepted that David de Freitas had caused serious harm to my reputation but ruled that his free speech rights were more important and gave him a special immunity known as the 'public interest defence'. My defamation claim was dismissed.

I appealed the judgement and today, after a further two years of legal battles, the court of appeal dismissed my claim.

I am incredibly disappointed. In a nutshell this judgement says that it was perfectly legal for Mr de Freitas to wrongly accuse me of raping his daughter, on five separate occasions and in the face of evidence which showed I was innocent. Mr de Freitas never advanced a defence of truth or honest opinion.

This is the first time the 'public interest defence' has been successfully deployed. It is not without controversy because it allows the innocent to be wrongly accused, whilst the accuser is given complete immunity.

To see the legal reasons why I think this judgement is wrong click here.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Still awaiting the result of the appeal, as the Summer legal term comes to an end on the 31st July.

The appeal was heard on 17 and 18th April and was reserved for judgement. There is unfortunately no way of telling when it will be handed down. Being a complicated case I anticipated several months.

The Summer legal term comes to an end on July 31st, and Autumn term resumes on October 1st. So there won't be a judgment handed down during that period. 

Although the wait is a little frustrating, it's nice to know that no 'life changing' judgement will be arriving in my email inbox for a couple of months. 

It could go either way. And the result could be potentially be very scary.

And now, it's time to relax and forget about the case for a couple of months.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP says: It was right for the prosecution of Eleanor de Freitas to go ahead.

After careful consideration, the Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP has decided not to order an independent inquiry into the prosecution of Eleanor De Freitas.

The request for a new inquiry or review was made by Ms De Freitas’ father David De Freitas. Ms De Freitas was charged with perverting the course of justice by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2014.

The Attorney concluded that there has already been a sufficient review of the case within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), including by Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecution. The internal review process carefully considered the points that Mr De Freitas and others have raised, and reasonable conclusions have already been reached.

Commenting on his decision, the Attorney General said:

I recognise that this was a difficult case with a tragic outcome and I extend my deepest sympathies to Mr De Freitas and his family. However, I have carefully considered the concerns raised by Mr De Freitas and I am satisfied that this case has already been subject to extensive scrutiny within the CPS, and that it was right for the prosecution to go ahead.


Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC MP

Friday, 22 June 2018

I have a stalker called Lisa Avalos who keeps spreading lies about me on the internet.

For the last four years a woman based in America, has become obsessed with my case. Her name is Lisa Avalos. She also goes by the name "Professor Avalos", a supposed law professor.

I first spotted her at the harassment trial. She had flown all the way from Arkansas, USA to be there. On the day of the verdict, before the judgement had been handed down I saw her  giving out her business cards to the press, saying "call me". She was sure I was going to be found guilty.

She was wrong. I was found not guilty, and she has been mad ever since. Ever since I was found not guilty she has done everything to try to show the opposite.

It's like a dog that won't let go of a bone.

I later found out that she became friends with David de Freitas and his wife, and they have had several dinners together and even visited the family home in Fulham.

Since 2014 Miss Avalos seems to be constantly writing about me on the internet. It is amazing how a person can become obsessed with you and it certainly feels (from my perspective) like stalking. She visits my blog at least once per day. I know this from the i.p. logs.

She has visited this site hundreds of times. Sometimes even sending me anonymous messages, that unknown to her come from her i.p. address.

When you take the unsolicited messages, travelling 5000 miles to see me in court, and her repeated allegations about me - I would call that a clear case of stalking. 

It seems I am not the only one who has made complaints about her though. A quick search on the internet will find other articles alleging that she is a liar, and a busy body in other people's cases.

This is the first time I am writing about her on my blog because to me she is a nobody who has a chip on the shoulder, so why would I want to write about such a person?

Today I am writing because Miss Avalos has again this month written about me, stating that I am guilty of the rape of Eleanor de Freitas, and this time she contacted the press trying to push her story which is based on a web of lies.

I have in the past asked her to stop writing about me, but she refuses. In America that's  called: The First Amendment aka "freedom of speech".

Professor Lisa Avalos has repeatedly stated that there was no evidence that Eleanor de Freitas lied and says that I raped her, which is totally false. Click Here to see the evidence that Lisa Avalos doesn't want anyone to know about.

For the last few days I've been dealing with a large media organisation called Buzzfeed who were proposing to re-ignite the story on me, saying they would publish "things you won't like".

In fact it was Lisa Avalos who contacted them, trying to push a false story about me which says I'm a guilty of rape.

An exhaustive two days was spent dealing with lawyers, sending out letters and documents to Buzzfeed showing them that I am in fact innocent. This is all very tiring. Especially when you've been dealing with this for four years. 

Lisa Avalos, if you're reading this please stop stalking me and move on.

Professor Lisa Avalos from the United States.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Five days to go until the hearing, but what is my appeal about?

Recap

In 2014 David de Freitas ran a coordinated press campaign, saying that I had raped his daughter and got away with it. Mr de Freitas held himself to be an "expert" on the case, and the press believed every word he said. 

It was not the press' fault, because they reasonably believed that Mr de Freitas had told them the truth. Before he went to the press, Mr de Freitas had in his possession full details of CCTV and text message evidence that showed there was strong evidence to show his daughter had lied. But he did not tell the press about that. He concealed those facts and went even further than that. He said there was "no evidence" that his daughter had lied, which was not true at all.

Mr de Freitas press campaign started on 6th November 2014. Within a few hours of seeing the press I notified Mr de Freitas via a hand delivered letter that everything he was telling the press was wrong.

Mr de Freitas ignored everything I had to say, and continued accusing me of rape. The next day he told the Today Programme on Radio 4 at 8:10am that I had probably raped his daughter. Later that day he went on BBC News TV and said the same thing.

I continued to protest my innocence to his lawyer Harriet Wistrich. I sent 27 emails showing them the evidence that proved I was innocent. But Mr de Freitas would not stop. In fact he accused me of "harassment". [NB I was later put on trial for this supposed "harassment" and was acquitted].

A month later, on 9th December 2014, David de Freitas continued his allegations in the Guardian and Telegraph Newspapers, continuing to assert that I had probably raped his daughter. At this point I decided to sue for libel. David de Freitas was on a mission and would not stop unless restrained by a court order. 

I issued my claim in March 2015. He filed his defence a month later. In the run up to the trial my lawyers asked Mr de Freitas (via part 18 questions) if he would continue going to the press. The reply came back that he would continue going to the press and nothing could prevent him from repeating his allegations. See image below.

If Mr de Freitas had reassured me that he would stop making false accusations then I would have no reason to sue. And so the case continued to trial...

In June 2016 there was an 8 day trial. At the end of trial the judge agreed that David de Freitas press campaign was based on false statements; that were highly defamatory and caused "serious harm" to my reputation. We should have won.

But in his judgement, Warby J said it was more important for David de Freitas to have freedom of speech than to repair my reputation, even though it caused serious harm and was not true.

Judge Warby dismissed my claim and ordered me to pay David de Freitas 90% of his legal costs of around £1.4m. [NB His legal costs are high because he is represented by no win no fee lawyers, who charge double fees]. A few months later David de Freitas applied to have me bankrupted. I am still fighting bankruptcy, which is on hold pending this appeal.

And that's what the appeal is about: Freedom of Speech vs Right to Reputation. The appeal is about common sense. If you wrongly accuse someone of rape on Radio, TV, Newspapers and Online and ignore everything the innocent victim says then you ought to be held to account. Especially when you know what you are saying is not true.

The appeal will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on 17 and 18th April 2018. The result will then be handed down at the Judges discretion,  usually 6 to 12 months after the hearing. 


An extract from "Part 18 Questions" in July 2015, eight months after David de Freitas press campaign.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Police to face Misconduct Hearing

Nearly five years after my complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) the officers who investigated the rape allegations, Detective Inspector Julian King and Detective Constable Phil Dial, are facing a formal misconduct hearing.

The reason that I took out a Private Prosecution against Eleanor in the first place was that the police refused to investigate her for lying, despite there being a mountain of strong evidence.

This report is really important because it contradicts everything Mr de Freitas was saying to the press. The truth was the Police Officers did not do a proper job.

The report says the Police Officers:

1. Refused to watch CCTV evidence.
2. Never examined the telephone downloads which contained crucial text messages.
3. Never asked Ms de Freitas about inconsistencies in her story.
4. Did not speak to important witnesses.
5. "Told Mr Economou to go away and collect the evidence himself"


This was also reported by the Daily Mail, see it here. The officers will face a public misconduct hearing at a later date and more details will emerge then.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Good News: Appeal listed for 17 April 2018

Good news. The libel case is going to an appeal which will be heard 17-18 April 2018. 

In June we had a short one hour hearing to lift the £400,000 condition to appeal. The judge ruled that I didn't have to pay the £400,000, but unfortunately ruled that I had to pay £120,000 as security.

Despite the good news I am grumpy about the £120,000. Quite frankly this condition to pay £120,000 to appeal is deeply unfair. In the last 5 years I have paid out over £1m in legal fees trying to defend my name. My flat is mortgaged up to the hilt and I have pretty much run out of money. I am going for broke on this now.

Since December 2016 David de Freitas applied for my bankruptcy and it's been a deeply unpleasant experience. Whilst at the same time David de Freitas is represented by an army of lawyers who are on a "no win no fee" arrangement. If I lose they will charge me double fees at over £1200 per hour as their "success fee".

One of his lawyers is Manual Barca QC who is in the top 10 defamation lawyers in the country. To date David de Freitas has spent absolutely nothing on legal fees; he had publicly accused me of raping his daughter; got away with it; drained me of cash and now holding me to ransom again.

The fight will continue to clear my name. It will continue on April 17th 2018. Not long to go now.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Court of Appeal - a £400,000 problem

So today I got permission to appeal the libel case. That was good news.

But there was a twist. The court granted the appeal hearing on condition that I pay £400,000 within 14 days.

If I don't pay £400,00 then there's no appeal hearing...

On top of the actual appeal of the libel case I now have to appeal the £400,000 condition. This is not simple. Today is the 23rd December and I have only 7 days to fill in the application form to request a the hearing to get that £400,000 condition removed. Then we can go to the actual appeal itself.

So complicated.

And a lot of hard work. This isn't going to be simple. If i want to lift the £400,000 condition then I need to disclose all of my finances to the court and to David de Freitas and his lawyers. The process is extremely intrusive.

Mr de Freitas will now get to see all my bank statements, see where I do my shopping, he'll get all my tax returns etc etc.

I spent all night long, sorting out my papers. I didn't leave my office until 4am. It was exhausting and just terribly depressing. Here is a short video I took:






Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Permission to Appeal

Good news! I have permission to appeal the libel judgement. If it goes to appeal and I get the judgement overturned then I won't be going bankrupt anymore.

We applied for permission to appeal back in September, and for the last three months the court for appeal have been reviewing the case papers.

The court of appeal has read through the papers and have written to following:

"The learned judge's judgement was long and careful. I am nevertheless persuaded that for the reasons set out in Counsel's skeleton argument there is a realist prospect of persuading the court that he was wrong to regard the section 4 defence as established particularly in circumstances where as the judge observed there was much to be said for the appellant's legal analysis and the defendant was pursuing a media strategy which does not appeal to have recognised any need for reference to the appellants side of the story and his answer to the serious allegations made against him. In addition the appeal raises important questions about the ambit of the section 4 defence in cases of this kind.

I am also persuaded that there is a realist prospect of persuading the full court that the judge was wrong to find that the claimant would have suffered no serious harm to his reputation or its likelihood as a result of the 3 November items"

See below:





Tuesday, 13 December 2016

David de Freitas trying to bankrupt me

Today David de Freitas issued bankruptcy proceedings against me.

I lost the libel case in July and was ordered to pay David de Freitas 90% of his legal costs including a £400,000 "interim payment". So far I haven't paid, because I don't have that kind of money.

I contact the lawyers and they say I need to turn up at court on the 7th February at the High Court where I will be made bankrupt. I will lose everything. Unless I can pay £400,000 before then, or unless I get permission from the court of appeal, to appeal my case. We are still waiting for an answer...

It's depressing.  I have nothing more to say.

See below.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Defamation Trial: Judgment Day (Economou v de Freitas): Judge says David de Freitas freedom of speech is more important than repairing my reputation even if I was falsely accused, and throws out my case.

I already know what the judgement is. The judge gave all the parties a draft of the judgement 3 days ago, but I wasn't allowed to tell anyone until it was handed down.

I was at a friends wedding in Cyprus when I found out the news. It was Monday and I was about to drive back to the airport. It was going to be a long drive of around three hours.

At the conclusion of the libel trial the judge indicated that he would hand down the judgement within a few weeks. Six weeks had now passed.

After breakfast, just as I was about to check out of the hotel I received a text message from my lawyer saying "judgement has arrived". We agreed on those words, so not to give the game away. I would call him when I was ready to hear the news.... and he would reveal all.

It was July 25th 2016, and Mr de Freitas defamatory press campaign had taken place 17 months ago.

It had been a long 17 months and I was up to my eyeballs in debt with my own legal costs. The costs had spiralled out of control. We are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Unlike me, Mr de Freitas had not spent a penny on lawyers. He was represented by "no win no fee" lawyers. The lawyers took his case on because if they won they could charge a 100% "uplift fee". Essentially they could double their fees if they won and I would have to foot the bill.

If they won I would have to write him a cheque for £1.2m as well as having paid all of my own legal costs. If he won I would be paying out over £2m.

I called my lawyer Colin to find out the news. I was standing outside. I was almost out of breath in anticipation. "Colin, tell me... tell me what the result is..."

He paused, and slowly said, "It's bad news, you have lost".

I almost fainted. I couldn't believe it. I was now £2m in debt. I was going lose everything I own. I was going bankrupt.

The drive back to the airport was horrible. I gave two people a lift and I just couldn't speak. I was lost in my own thoughts of the horror of having lost this case.

This wasn't supposed to happen. In two days time the press will be saying I lost. I should have been the other way around. I was devastated.

But how could I have lost?


I had looked at the judgement. It was over 100 pages long. We did in fact prove everything we needed to prove. The judge agreed that:

1. David de Freitas was responsible for making the statements.
2. His statements implied I was guilty of rape and they were seriously defamatory.
3. His statements caused serious harm to my reputation.

But the judge said that "David de Freitas free speech rights" was more important that repairing my reputation and that it was more important for Mr de Freitas to be able to talk about his dead daughter freely in the press, even if he was accused me of rape which wasn't true.

At no point did David de Freitas even attempt to show that what he was saying was true. The truth was not pleaded at trial. Instead he had won on a "public interest defence" which was based on a "reasonable belief" that what he was saying was in the public interest.

It was a crazy judgement. How can lying to the press be reasonable?

What was the point of having libel laws, if people can accused you of rape and get away with it, when they didn't even try to prove what they were saying was correct?

On the 27th July we all turned up at court and the judge handed down the judgement. It went public. Within a few hours the news that i had lost my libel case was all over the Internet. The next day it was in the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

Worse was to come though. The judge ordered me to pay David de Freitas legal costs and I had to pay an "interim payment" £400,000 within two months, otherwise I was going bankrupt...


Newspapers on display at a petrol station the day after I lost the case.






Friday, 1 July 2016

Something funny happened that I forgot to mention

Something I forgot to mention last week...

I was about to cross the street when the person I was with turned to me and said,"Look who it is!"

I looked up and opposite me on the other side of the road about to cross to my side was Judge Tan Ikram.

I couldn't believe it. This was the judge that had acquitted me of harassment two weeks before!

What are the chances???

We both clocked each other as we were about to cross the road. I nodded my head in a 'thank you' gesture and he gave me a cheeky grin as he walked past as if to say 'you're welcome' and he disappeared into the distance.

It made my day. He is my hero. He found me not guilty and understood what had really been going on. Thank you Judge Tan Ikram.

Judge Tan Ikram




Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Defamation Case: The Trial

Finally we were at trial.

Ten days ago I was acquitted of harassment. Now all I had to do was win the libel case and I was on a home run.

The libel case was very complicated.

We were complaining about 7 sets of publications. There was one Radio interview, one TV interview and 5 newspaper articles.

All of this occurred over a period of 5 weeks, between the 6th November 2014 to the 10th December 2014.

Each publication would have to be examined very carefully. The meaning of the words words have to be established, and whether it caused serious harm.

Our case was very strong. It was strong because I warned Mr de Freitas that I would take legal action after the first publication, but he continued defaming me.

Our case was that he continued defaming me over 5 weeks and each time I contacted his lawyers to protest at what he was saying, telling him that it wasn't true.

If he had stopped after the first defamatory statement then he might have been excused for making an honest mistake but he ploughed on regardless. There was no defence.

This trial was very long and complicated. It was much less exciting than the harassment trial. There were lots of complicated arguments between the lawyers citing many authorities.

The trial lasted for 7 full days. We were in courtroom 13 of the Royal Court of Justice, a big Gothic building in the strand. That's the room where many of the famous libel cases have been heard over the years. Hamilton v Fayed, Aitken v Guardian, Archer v The Star, and Mitchell v Newgroup. Unfortunately most libel cases fail. Libel is a very difficult thing to litigate. As the case progressed I looked around the room imagining the various parties over he years giving evidence from the witness box. This was a place of history with it's old wooden pews, stained glass windows and three foot thick stone walls.

On the final morning each party gave a closing speech and that was it. Time to wait.

I was feeling confident. There had been no surprises at trial, it went how we expected it to go. Mr de Freitas and his witness didn't say anything terribly helpful in his defence.

But this was to be the first time the section 4 defence had been deployed in a libel case. So it was new territory for the judge. The Defamation Act 2013 was relatively new, so there was an element of uncertainty.

What is the section 4 defence?
In libel cases usually the person making the defamatory statement has to prove that what they are saying is true. If they can't prove it was true then they lose. In this case David de Freitas was not going to go down that path. He was not pleading the truth. He was pleading a section 4 defence.

The section 4 defence is really designed to protect journalists, should they make an innocent mistake and can show responsible journalism. If a journalist wrote what he believed was an impartial story and accidentally libelled someone then they would be pardoned by the court if they had acted in a responsible manner.

Over the years the libel courts had come up with the following checklist, which is often referred to as the Reynolds Defence named after Albert Reynolds libel case. The court of appeal has previously ruled that:

Depending on the circumstances, the matters to be taken into account include the following. The comments are illustrative only.

1. The seriousness of the allegation. The more serious the charge, the more the public is misinformed and the individual harmed, if the allegation is not true.

2. The nature of the information, and the extent to which the subject-matter is a matter of public concern.

3. The source of the information. Some informants have no direct knowledge of the events. Some have their own axes to grind, or are being paid for their stories.
The steps taken to verify the information.

4. The status of the information. The allegation may have already been the subject of an investigation which commands respect.

5. The urgency of the matter. News is often a perishable commodity.

6. Whether comment was sought from the plaintiff. He may have information others do not possess or have not disclosed. An approach to the plaintiff will not always be necessary.

7. Whether the article contained the gist of the plaintiff's side of the story.

8. The tone of the article. A newspaper can raise queries or call for an investigation. It need not adopt allegations as statements of fact.

9. The circumstances of the publication, including the timing.

This list is not exhaustive. The weight to be given to these and any other relevant factors will vary from case to case. Any disputes of primary fact will be a matter for the jury, if there is one. The decision on whether, having regard to the admitted or proved facts, the publication was subject to qualified privilege is a matter for the judge. This is the established practice and seems sound. A balancing operation is better carried out by a judge in a reasoned judgement than by a jury. Over time, a valuable corpus of case law will be built up.

In order to win the case Mr de Freitas would have to show that he followed the above checklist or at least a large proportion of it. Let's go through above list, in terms of my case:

1. He accused me of rape, and did not plead a case of truth at trial.

2.  It was agreed that rape or false allegations are of public concern (as opposed to kiss and tells story that wouldn't be)

3. He had his own axe to grind, he was an angry father. He also knew what he was saying was untrue.

4. The Director of Public Prosecutions had personally met Mr de Freitas and told him about the CCTV and text messages, yet he went to the press and said the opposite.

5. There was no urgency. His daughter had died 6 months before. He gave me no prior warning of his press campaign to prevent me speaking out at the same time and putting my side of the story.

6. He knew my side of the story, I told him to stop lying but he kept on lying regardless.

7. He never gave a gist of my side of the story of mentioned CCTV evidence to the press.

8. The tone was factual, as if he had special information that no one else knew.

9. He had ambushed the Director of Public Prosecutions statement, publishing his own article within 24hrs in order to confuse the general public.

Whatever the result of the judgement this was likely to go to court of appeal for a second opinion, this was new territory. Now we just and to wait and see what the outcome is. Fingers crossed...

Royal Courts of Justice

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Harassment Trial: Judgement Day - NOT GUILTY

I had been on edge for the last week. There is nothing worse that waiting for exams results, but this was ten times worse.

The verdict was going to be handed down by District Judge Tan Ikram at 10am.

The charge of harassment was actually relatively minor, which is why the case has been heard by a district judge and not a jury. The worst that could happen would be six months in prison, or more realistically community service.

But if found guilty the press would have a field day. They would destroy me. I dreaded the thought of the words Guilty being printed in large letters next to my name, all over Google. Especially that I was the victim of a false rape accusation. There wold be terribly confusion. "Guilty of rape?" people would probably ask themselves, confusing the harassment allegations with the rape allegations.

The day before I had spoken to a friend in PR on what to do if it was a guilty verdict. He said wear a plain blue tie and a suit. Blue is a fairly neutral colour. If the press ask you anything just say "All I ever wanted was to clear my name".

I was ready for the worst. The verdict rested on whether I had been objectively "reasonable". If the judge could understand what had happened he would rule that i had been reasonable and find in my favour. But I was up against the father of a dead girl. Mr de Freitas had been in floods of tears throughout the trial.

I got in a taxi and headed towards Westminster Magistrates Court. No photographers were outside which was good. I went through security and up to the first floor. The verdict was going to be read out in Court Room One, the biggest room.

I met my lawyer Colin and he started to speak to the prosecutor William Emlyn Jones.

Outside the court room was David de Freitas, his niece Lizzie Noel waiting to go in, as well as well as a few other supporters of the family.

There were also members of the press.

We go into the court room. Sitting in front of me is my solicitor Collin and just to his right is the prosecutor William Emlyn-Jones.

The public gallery is right at the back of the court room. Journalists are on the ready with their note pads resting on their knees. Meanwhile I can feel Mr de Freitas starting at me.

The judge enters the room and takes his position. We all rise and sit back down. There is silence and the judge starts the formalities. I'm expecting him to quickly deliver his verdict, but he doesn't.


The judge has written a lengthy judgement and he's going to read through all of it and only at the very end will he give his verdict.

The next 15 minutes is going to be torture.

I can almost hear the ticking of the clock opposite. It's now 10 18 a.m. I'm looking at the second hand and clenching every muscle of my body preparing for the worst.

I haven't slept too well in the last week. Not knowing the result of something is the worst thing. I'm wide awake now and I keep thinking to myself how did I get here?

How did I get into the situation? It feels so surreal. It feels like the beginning of a novel where you wake up in a strange place and wonder how you got there. The clock in front of me keeps ticking. Tick, tock.

David de Freitas keeps staring at me, it's like he's burning a hole through my head. He wants a guilty verdict so badly, but I am innocent. I am in fact the victim in this entire situation.

And then all of a sudden the Judge says: "I find the defendant not guilty".

And that's it. I can't believe it.

I have agreed with my lawyers (and best friend who is supporting me) that no matter what the outcome we shall show no emotion in front of the press.

A minute later I reconvened with my lawyers and best friend in a briefing room round the side of the court room. We close the door. We are all smiling. I can not believe it. They are congratulating me. It was the best feeling i the world. I make a few phone calls to close friends and family to tell them the good news.

I am cleared!

"We're going to Clarridges" says my best friend, "I'm going to buy you champagne, we're going to celebrate!".

It was not even 11am and yet we were drinking Champagne at the bar at Clarridges.

I still couldn't believe it.

We were still at Claridges and hadn't even got through the first bottle when the news started to be published online. "Cleared" it said in big letters next to my name. People started to call and congratulate me.

Full Judgement can be read here.


Relaxing at home in my green sweatpants reading about the good news in London's Evening Standard. 

An extract from the Judgement:






Friday, 27 May 2016

Harassment Trial: Part 3

Yesterday was the first day of the trial. David de Freitas had taken the stand was playing the role of the quivering victim. He was saying how frightened he was, how scared he was of me and how scared he was of going to court.

And guess what I found online?

A video online of him posing for the cameras outside the court. Then there were pictures of him posing with his nieces. He wasn't afraid at all, in fact he loved the attention, the publicity. 




At 10 am we were back in court. Another witness would give evidence this morning for the prosecution and then it was my turn.

The witness that morning was Sebastian Gosden-Hood. In fact his full name is Sebastian Noel Cavendish Gosden-Hood. His father is John Gosden, a famous horse trainer. When Sebastian took the witness stand and gave his name it was ridiculous. It was like, who the hell is this guy? He had said not even started to give evidence and already came across as a pompous idiot.

Sebastian and I had been friends back in 2007. We used to play football together and we had had a falling out of some trivial matter a few years ago, but we never spoke again after that.

Here he was going to give evidence against me. He was best friends with Lizzie Noel, who is Eleanor's cousin. His loyalty was with Lizzie and the de Freitas family.

Sebastian Gosden is known to embellish, exaggerate and to lie (amongst my circle of friends).  But what he didn't know is that I had evidence to prove it.

Sebastian took the witness stand and started to give evidence. And then boom, ambush time! My lawyer Colin handed him a document which had various text messages on it. Text messages from two years ago.

Ever since I was accused of rape I have retained all text messages. No one keeps text messages for two years, but I did. Sebastian wasn't banking on that. He was telling the court about something I told him and about various messages that I'd sent him, yet I had the messages that showed the opposite. 

It threw him. He was all over the place. Stuttering away. 

After his evidence one of my friends who was watching from the public gallery asked me: "Sebastian Gosden-Hood, who is that guy, is he a heroin addict?"

I am not joking. He was like the comedy witness. His evidence was so far fetched and inconsistent it was like a joke. He was even referring to the judge as "dude".

After lunchtime it was to take the stand. My turn. I was nervous as hell. Last night I had only slept about 3 hours. I had been searching for this one document and it took me hours to find. 

In the morning I needed to get up early to go running. The run would calm my nerves for the entire day and help me think. It was better that I was tired but clear headed.

The whole case was really about me. The verdict rested on my shoulders. I needed to justify that what I did was " objectively reasonable" in the eyes of the law. 

Essentially I needed to show that:

1. I sent letters to David de Freitas and his lawyers in response to the press, which was wrongly asserting that I had raped his daughter. And that the letters were designed to deter further defamatory remarks and no more.

2. I had set up a website (which contained mainly CCTV and images of Eleanor as a prostitute)  to counter the false allegations that were all over the Internet and no more.

And that's what I explained to the court. First I gave my "evidence in chief", which is when you tell your side of the story, with my lawyer Colin asking, "what happened next" and I kept telling my story. I spoke of all the press, the death threat, and wanting to clear my name.

Next came cross examination. William Emlyn Jones was the prosecutor. And he was good. He was so good. It was scary.

Rule no. 1 is always tell the truth in court. If you lie you are dead meat, and it's also a very serious criminal offence.

Bill Emyln-Jones - aka "the shark" started his cross examination, but I was shooting him down on every point. I was innocent here and I was going to show him who was the victim. I had been the victim of a malicious press campaign, not de Freitas. 

Every question was a leading question which would often finish with the words "isn't it" or "isn't that right". Every now and then he would say "That's a pack of lies Mr Economou" or "I put it to to you that..."

It was brutal. I was in the witness box for an hour but it felt like three hours.

Then came a question that really threw me. This was the sharks "piece de resistance". I had previously explained I created the website for the world to see, so they could see Eleanor was a liar and that i was innocent.

Bill Emlyn-Jones: "Mr Economou, who else out of all the people in the world would be the the person most interested in this case?"

There was a silence and I sheepishly replied, "David de Freitas", there was no other answer. I thought  I was a gonner.

After an hour of cross examination the trial concluded with closing arguments and the judge said he would give his verdict on June 2nd, which was almost a week away.

David de Freitas poses for photographers outside court with his nieces.





Thursday, 26 May 2016

Harassment Trial: Part 2

The prosecution finished their case and then my counsel Dave, who I had only met that morning, got up and started submissions on my behalf.

It went seriously badly but I couldn't do anything about it. I was stuck inside this glass box (the dock) and couldn't give any instructions to my lawyers from inside there. I just had to sit and listen to this car crash.

My counsel didn't know my case at all.

Colin, my other lawyer stepped in and requested a further 30 minutes to make some copies of papers that we needed to give the judge. He granted us 70 minutes and court was adjourned for lunch.

Action stations.

We all left the court room and I went into one of the briefing rooms with Colin. "Dave is fired!", I said "I don't want him anywhere near my case". I was furious about the situation.

Colin was very nervous. If Dave was fired that meant he would be running the case and cross examining Mr de Freitas and other witnesses.

I decided to keep Dave in a procedural role but Colin would be running the show from now. My civil solicitor Colin who usually conducts commercial litigation from behind a desk would now turn into a criminal barrister (trial counsel) in the space of 70 minutes.

The next 70 minutes were crucial, in that 70 minutes:

1) Colin had to prepare for cross examination of David de Freitas.

2) I had to copy 50 pages of documents, four times over.

But where would I find a photocopier? I ran around the court building in desperation carrying these two massive files, trying to find a photocopying machine.

I saw there was one in the lobby, no one was using it. I switched it on and started to copy. I was on my fifth copy when I got pounced on by six security guards "What are you doing!" they shouted.

It was chaos, time was ticking by and we seriously needed these documents. Another five minutes was wasted whilst i tried to explain to them my situation. They didn't care and pulled the plug out and told me I couldn't use the machine.

Shit.

Fuck.

I was desperate. There was only 45 minutes left. I Googled photocopying shops and jumped into a taxi. 5 minutes later I arrived at the nicest photocopying shop I have ever been to on Marylebone Road.

As I entered the shop Classic Fm was playing in the background and all was calm. I was the only customer in the shop. Amazing. I told them what I needed and they set about creating four copies of everything. After 20 minutes we had four bundles of documents neatly bound  together. The bill came to around £100, that's how many documents there were, but this was worth it. I did not want a criminal record.

I raced back to the court building, went through the security checks, back through he X ray machine and up two floors to the court room. I gave the documents to Colin and took my place in the dock.

As soon as I put my foot in the dock the Judge walked in. We had made it by the skin of our teeth.

Colin had his documents and he had his questions. We were ready for cross examination.

Witness no. 1 was David de Freitas.

He was a lot shorter than I expected. Up to this day I had never seen him in the flesh. He took the witness stand and first of all the prosecution asked him some questions. Because he was a witness for the prosecution he was giving his "evidence in chief", as opposed to cross examination. With evidence in chief counsel will ask open ended questions, such as "and then what happened" or "did you notice anything unusual that day" they are not allowed to suggest anything. The evidence must come from you.

Evidence in chief is very different from cross examination, is when the other side ask you questions. Only the opposing side can cross examine and ask leading questions.

I had already read David de Freitas' witness statement, so I knew what he was going to say in curt. It was terribly over exaggerated.

His first complaint was that I had sent him a letter and he found it threatening. In fact the letter didn't threaten anything apart for "legal action. I sent the letter when the press started to come out. I did not need a lawyer to tell me the press was defamatory. Also there was no time. The press came out at 7pm and I was tipped off to a Radio broadcast that was happening at 8am, so no time to seek legal advice in any case.

The letter actually gave David de Freitas a list of the CPS evidence and told him that I was the victim of a serious crime and that should he twist the facts then I would make my own statement and take legal action.

There were also other messages I had sent, (because he would not stop his press campaign) and there was the website that I had created.

His complaint was that it caused him alarm and distress. He did not want contact from me, and he did not want to see photos of his daughter buying sex toys (the morning after the alleged rape).

It was so dramatised. De Freitas continued to give his evidence in chief and was crying at every opportunity. "My poor daughter... she's all I had."

Sure he was upset that his daughter had died, but that wasn't anything to do with me. All he had to do was to think of his daughter and he would burst into tears.

There were lots of tears and I was thinking "My god, I haven't got a chance. Who are you going to vouch for, me of the father of the dead girl". He was making me out to be some kind of demon.

In one instance he even had to leave the room, this was not good.

When his evidence in chief was over my lawyer Colin cross examined him. Colin was good, he stuck to the most important things. De Freitas was trying to be clever and avoided many questions instead he would answer back with these old fashioned catch phrases like "words don't but tears fail me" it was "too little too late", a sort of pompous talk.

Next witness was David de Freitas lawyer, Harriet Wistrich. She again was very short, much shorter than I expected.

Harriet Wistrich is an anti rape campaigner. She founded this group called WAR or Women Against Rape. This organisation is particularly unpleasant. They say that "all men are rapists" and are feminist extremists.

Again her evidence as exaggerated. All that had happened is I sent De Freitas and her warning letters and set up a website to counter the bad press. Nothing more. But they were framing it was "this man lost his daughter because of Economou, and then he bombarded him with messages and photos of his daughter buying sex toys, how could he do such a thing, he did it on purpose to upset Mr de Freitas".

The true context was that David de Freitas had accused me of rape in the press and I had told him to shut up, and exposed the truth which was that his daughter was a liar. 

Harassment Trial: Part 1

Total disaster.

Last night I found out that my counsel had overrun on another trial and couldn't represent me today, which meant we had to get someone else last minute.

Yup, so today I am going to be represented by someone who only just read the case papers last night. The problem is this is a very complex case. You need a week to get to grip on everything. This whole thing has been going on for 3 years and 6 months.

I am feeling generally quite nervous.

I stayed up late last night going through the papers and this morning I got up early to go for a 5 mile run.

It has helped calm the nerves, but still there are nerves.

I am also worried about the press taking a bad photo of me. When I came to court in January there were press all over the place, snapping away.  One hour later my photo of my outside court was all over the internet.

I put on my Sunday best and head over to court in a pre booked taxi. Everything was good. I was on time and in fact I was early.

I got out of the taxi round the corner from the court so that the press couldn't see me and then gently meandered towards to the double doors. I was relieved there was no press.

I was about to walk into the court building when I realised the doors are shut. I had arrived too early. Ten seconds later I was spotted by half a dozen photographers. Snap snap snap.

I felt like an idiot as all these photographers snapped away.

After five minutes the court doors opened and in I went. I went to a briefing room where I met my counsel for the first time. Yes you heard me right. I was on trial and I hadn't even met my own lawyer.

Thankfully I also had my defamation lawyer Colin there. He knows the case inside out but he:

a) Doesn't specialise in criminal law.
b) Has never acted as counsel at trial before.

My plan is to use Colin for everything apart from Dave, who knows less about the case but he knows how the criminal courts work. Colin my libel lawyer is very nervous, but I know he'll be fine.

In we go to the court and it is jam packed full of press. Literally every seat in the court room is taken. the press are even sitting on the benches where lawyers would normally sit.

I go and take my place in the dock, which in this court is a glass box. There is a speaker and I can hear the proceedings via the speaker.

The lawyers take their positions and the prosecuting lawyer opens the case. The prosecutor is a guy called Bill Emylyn Jones QC. He is 6 foot 5 with size 13 feet and quite lanky. Tall and slim with a big nose. He looks like a shark.

The shark is very clever, he is very intelligent.  The shark is no ordinary prosecutor he is what is called "Treasury Counsel". That means he was hand picked by the Attorney General to prosecute the most serious cases at the Central Criminal courts in London.

The shark is usually prosecuting murderers and terrorists at the Old Bailey. He hasn't been in a magistrates court for years. Even though the charge of harassment against me is relatively minor in comparison, the case has a lot of history. It is actually quite complicated and that's why they have employed him, someone with a good memory who can quickly explain things to the judge.

The good news is that the more experienced the prosecutor the fairer they are. That applies here in the UK, although probably not in the USA. When you have trial lawyers starting off in their careers they try to win every criminal case, they need to prove themselves. Once they have some experience they realise it's actually about justice. They realise they are there to present the facts and allow the court to decide.

Obviously the shark is going to lay into me and accuse me of harassing Mr de Freitas but the shark is reasonable. As he gives his opening speech he explains that David de Freitas accused me of rape in the press. Quite honestly the opening speech could have been a lot worse.

Some parts of his opening I just want to burst out laughing though. Part of the prosecution case is that I've made a website (like this one) that has images of the sex toys that Eleanor and I bought together and that it caused enormous distress to David de Freitas to see those images of his daughter buying sex toys.

The whole thing is crazy because obviously all I was trying to do was to show his daughter was lying. I only did it after he went to the press and after my name was trashed on Google. Anyone wrongly accused  of rape would upload  material to show they were innocent - if it was available.

The shark went though the names of the sex toys. I couldn't believe it. He then went on about the CCTV I had uploaded and the various sections of the website, including 'homepage', 'CCTV', 'police refusing to investigate'.

He said the website published "completely gratuitous" references to the purchases of sex toys, including "three jars: nipple rub, pussy rub and cock rub" and "anal glide lube".

When he started going through the list of jars I almost laughed out loud. I had to bite my lip so hard.

He said that I had posted screen shots on the website of Miss de Freitas appearing on a website called Tantric Temple, in which she is listed as a "high-class escort" called Goddess Portia.

Quite honestly that opening by Mr William Emlyn-Jones QC was the best advertising ever for my website which was still up and running during the trial.  That website was similar to this blog, in that it showed the evidence against Eleanor de Freitas and showed her to be a liar.

It received so many website hits that day.

The press were writing everything down and I was delighted. I wanted this detail to be out out there. So far the press had kept quiet about the evidence but now they had no choice.

All I ever anted was the truth to get out there and it was. The evidence on my website was going to be in every paper by lunchtime.


I arrived too early and had to wait for the court to open.





This was the website I was being prosecuted for. 







The prosecutor went through the names of the jars.




Some of the purchases from Ann Summers.

























Tuesday, 10 May 2016

HMRC trying to bankrupt David De Freitas for non payment of £90,000 of taxes.

Today my lawyers found this judgement online. Apparently HMRC is trying to bankrupt David de Freitas for non-payment of £90,000 of taxes. This is strange because David de Freitas is a financial adviser. I wonder if he tells his clients he is on the verge of bankruptcy? Another twist, and potential evidence of dishonesty.


The Commissioners for HMRC v David De Freitas





No Substantial Judicial Treatment


Court
Chancery Division

Judgment Date
6 May 2016







Case No: CH/2015/0044


High Court of Justice Chancery Division


[2016] EWHC 1433 (Ch), 2016 WL 01745198


Before: Mrs Justice Asplin DBE


Friday, 6 May 2016


Representation


Mr T Nersession appeared on behalf of the Claimant.
Mr Pavlovich appeared on behalf of the Defendant.


Judgment



Mrs Justice Asplin:

1. This is an appeal from the decision of Registrar Briggs which was made on 24 August 2015. On that occasion, the Registrar dismissed the bankruptcy petition which had been issued by HM Revenue and Customs against Mr David De Freitas and, in doing so, also refused an application for an adjournment for the filing of further evidence. This related to a bankruptcy petition which was presented on 29 April 2015 in respect of Mr De Freitas. The petition debt comprised unpaid self-assessment tax, interest and penalties amounting to £89,731.06. There had been a previous statutory demand of 28 August 2014, although there is, and remains, a live issue in relation to whether or not that was served in the usual way.


2. In fact, the petition first came before the court on 15 June 2015 and was adjourned to 24 August. By a notice of 17 August, pursuant to Rule 6.21 of the Insolvency Act 1986 , Mr De Freitas had filed full notice of intention to oppose the petition. He had also enclosed a witness statement which was, in fact, dated 12 August but was included with that notice of 17 August. It contained his evidence in opposition to the petition and, for the most part, it set out a chronology of events, including the correspondence which had taken place with the Revenue.


3. At the second hearing on 24 August, an officer of HMRC appeared on its behalf and sought an adjournment of eight weeks to file and serve evidence in reply to the notice of opposition. The hearing was in the usual list and, therefore, was to be dealt with in relatively short order. The petition was heard by Registrar Briggs who dismissed it with no order as to costs.


4. The appellant, HMRC, seeks permission to appeal on a variety of grounds. The ones I have been referred to today are, firstly, that it is unfair to HMRC that the matter was dismissed in that way because there was no chance to file further evidence and make submissions. Mr De Freitas' evidence had only come in a week before and the statutory demand point had been raised, it is said, for the first time on that occasion. In fact, I have been referred by Mr Pavlovich to correspondence which shows that that point had been raised back in July. It is also said under ground 1 that, in fact, the decision that was made was made on the evidence which was only from Mr De Freitas which was, obvioiusly, it is said, unfair. On the other hand, it is said, in Mr De Freitas' evidence which was so compelling that it needed an answer by way of further evidence.


5. The second ground is that there was confusion in the mind, therefore, of the Registrar between ADR and adjudication and that, as a result, he made some fundamentally incorrect conclusions upon which he based his reasoning. They are said to be, first of all, that it was wrong to say that the process was underway. In fact, it was not underway. There had been what might be called an ADR process which had been rejected by the appropriate office because it did not fit within the statutory parameters. There had also been the further two-stage process which had been completed on 9 July and it is said that the ball was in Mr De Freitas' court to bring the matter before the Adjudicating Officer and, in fact, that had not commenced at the date on which Registrar Briggs heard this matter. That process was not begun until January of this year, 2016. It is said, therefore, that the Registrar was wrong in that regard.


6. It is also said that the Registrar was wrong Mr De Freitas was waiting for a letter before he could start the adjudication process. It is said, in that regard, the notice of opposition records that the previous two-stage process had come to an end by the letter of 9 July 2015 and so Mr De Freitas could have started the adjudication process but had not done so. I was taken through the relevant correspondence in that regard and I will come back to the transcript, itself.


7. The third ground of appeal is Section 284 of the Insolvency Act 1986 . It is said the Registrar, in his reasoning, relied on what he said was the devastating blow which would be caused to Mr De Freitas by the effect of Section 284 . As I say, I will turn back to the discussion which was had in this regard but it said that those conclusions, to which the Registrar came, were also inaccurate because Section 284 , itself, does not cause a bank account to be frozen immediately on the issue of presentation of the bankruptcy petition. In this case, the bank accounts of the respondent were not frozen. In fact, the effect of Section 284 is that transactions are void if and when, in fact, the person is adjudged bankrupt and it relates back to the presentation of the petition, itself. It is said that that is not the way in which it was described by the Registrar.


8. My attention was also directed to Section 284(5) which provides that:


“Where after the commencement of his bankruptcy, the bankrupt has incurred a debt to a banker or other person by reasoning of the making of a payment which is void under the this Section, that debt is deemed for the purposes of any of this group or parts to have been incurred before the commencement of the bankruptcy unless the banker or person had notice of the bankruptcy before the debt was incurred or it is not reasonably practicable for the amount of the payment to be recovered from the person to whom it was made.”

Mr Nersession, on behalf of the Revenue, says that the Registrar was also wrong to say that it would have the effect, necessarily, of freezing the bank account and there was no freezing here. He also points out that the whole matter could have been dealt with by way of validation orders and that, therefore, there was not the serious threat which the Registrar seemed to take into account in his reasoning. He said there was no evidence of any effect at all on Mr De Freitas' bank accounts and so it was not reasonable or within the Registrar's discretion to take the view which he did. In relation to Section 284 , Mr Nersession also says if that were the case, then it would render the usual procedure in these matters otiose because Section 284 applies in every case and if that were its effect, then on each occasion, a petition would be dismissed because of the perceived prejudice which it would then be suggested that Section 284 caused. Therefore, it is said that no petition would ever get off the ground.


9. The fourth ground is that the Registrar failed to take into account numerous matters. They were, for example, that these were historic debts going back to 1999. They were based on the respondent's own self-assessment, which was of his income tax liabilities, and it said it is not clear the respondent is saying he does not owe what would be, at least, sufficient to be over the required threshold for a bankruptcy petition. I was referred to a letter of 30 July 2015 in which it was said that he owed a great deal less than £89,000 but it was not said what, in fact, he did owe.


10. There is also an issue in relation to the statutory demand. It said that is something which would warrant a cross-appeal. There is no cross-appeal here and I do not propose to deal with that matter today. I ought, also, before turning to the test in relation to an appeal and the issues which arise here, go back and refer to the relevant extracts of the transcript of the hearing before Registrar Briggs on 24 August 2015. The issue in relation to the adjournment was raised and Mr De Freitas said that the Revenue had written to him saying they wanted eight weeks and the Registrar, at page 14D of the bundle and in the transcript, replied:


“Yes. And then the matter needs to come back before the court.”

That is understood by all to be a reference to the need for the matter to come back if there were more evidence to be filed. But he went on:


“But before that, I would like to know from you whether or not this is a matter, essentially, awaiting the outcome of an adjudication.”

The reply was:


“That is right, sir. In my opinion, this is still very much an ongoing matter. I do not really think we should be at the stage of a bankruptcy petition. You know the debt is an ongoing discussion between myself and the Revenue. It has now reached the stage where it is to be considered by the Adjudicator.”

The Registrar said:


“What does the debt arise out of? Is it income tax?”

That was agreed to by Mr De Freitas. He then went on:


“It is a matter for the Adjudicator. The way the system works, apparently, is that there is a two stage internal process and I cannot access the Adjudicator until the two stage process has been exhausted. We are now at that stage and so the matter is to go before the Adjudicator and I do not know how long she will take to deal with this matter but, really, I find it extraordinary that we should be here. I've taken advice.”

Then the Registrar said:


“Had you actually filed an adjudication review?”

The reply was:


“I am waiting for one further letter from the Revenue which they referred to in their stage two which they popped in the post to me. I will have that this week. Once I have that, I can then put the matter to the Adjudicator. I have up to six months at the end of the two stage process to put the matter to the Adjudicator. Clearly, I do not want to wait six months. I want to get the matter sorted out.”

I should add that, in that regard, it is not disputed that, in fact, almost six months did elapse until the matter was placed before the Adjudicator in very early January of 2016. In any event, the Registrar went on:


“Are you self-employed?”

Mr De Freitas said:


“I am, sir, yes.”

The Registrar asked how his self-employment was being affected and what industry he was in. He explained that he was a financial advisor and the Registrar specifically asked:


“How does that affect your business if you owe bankruptcy?”

The reply was:


“I think I would not be able to work in financial services.”

The Registrar went on a little later to say:


“But as soon as the bankruptcy petition is presented, essentially, it freezes all your bank accounts. As soon as your bank gets to hear of it, it will freeze your bank account.”

Mr De Freitas said:


“I've not been told anything about that.”

The representative, on behalf of the Revenue, said:


“It is usually after the bankruptcy order made that the bank freezes. It's different in limited companies.”

The Registrar went on:


“While Section 284 applies, which means that you are not entitled. It is the same as bankruptcy as in a company, Section 204 applies. Section 204 provides that any transaction is void which is in relation to the disposing of the value of your assets further to those assets in your bank account and that is why the bank will freeze your account.”

I assume that that, in fact, was a reference to Section 284 , rather than 204. In any event, the Registrar asked:


“How would it affect your business if that was the case?”

Mr De Freitas said:


“Well, I would not have a business.”

Then Mr De Freitas explained that he relied on his business to do everything and the Registrar replied:


“Yes. Well, I'm a bit concerned about this case mostly because of two things. Mr De Freitas is clearly not a man who is running away from his responsibilities. He is more trying to sort them out. He has initiated ADR. It seems to me that it is probably appropriate for the ADR to run its course. I would be far more in favour of them (the Revenue) if the ADR had actually started but I know that you are waiting.”

The Mr De Freitas said:


“I'm waiting for a letter.”

The Registrar said:


“You are waiting for the letter from the Revenue but that is not his fault. It seems to me that this petition really should be dismissed at this stage and wait until the outcome of the ADR.”

Then the Registrar went on a little later to say:


“It's going to have a devastating effect on his business. I'm going to dismiss the petition and no order for costs.”

Mr De Freitas thanked him and he said:


“It does not mean that the Revenue is not entitled to bring another petition at another time if you do not get on with the ADR.”

He reiterated a little later:


“Mr De Freitas, you must press on with your ADR.”

Then the representative, on the behalf of the Revenue, said:


“Just because it happened so quickly, I just need to know clearly in my mind why you have dismissed it.”

Which was a reference to the petition. The Registrar said:


“I dismissed it because it was an ongoing ADR.”

He went on a little later to say:


“It seems to me that you should not have both running at the same time, so on that basis I dismiss the petition, permitting the adjudication to go ahead in the absence of having the Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Mr De Freitas while it is done so.”

That was the decision.


11. Of course, I should refer to the Rule which applies in relation to an appeal and that is CPR Rule 52.11(3) :


“The appeal court will allow an appeal where the decision below a court was:


(a) wrong; or


(b) unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings in the lower court.”

In this case, it is said on behalf of Mr De Freitas by Mr Pavlovich that there was a mixture here, both of an exercise of discretion in relation to dismissing the bankruptcy petition and also case management discretion in relation to whether or not there should be an adjournment. Mr Nersession sees the matter in a slightly different light and says, in fact, I should focus on the exercise of discretion in relation to the dismissal of the petition, rather than concentrating on case management because he says, in fact, it was, overall, a dismissal of that petition, rather than an express case management conclusion and I am going to deal with that point first.


12. With regard to case management and other decisions, I was referred by Mr Pavlovich, on behalf of Mr De Freitas, to the case of Abdulle & Ors v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis , which is a practice note. It is reported in the first volume of the Weekly Law Reports in 2016 at page 898 and it is a decision of the Court of Appeal. I was referred, in particular, to paragraphs 26 to 29 of the judgment of Lewison LJ who, in fact, gave the judgment of the court in this regard. At paragraph 26, Lewison LJ refers to an extract from the case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Limited [2013] EWCA Civ 1537 , where it is said:


““We start by reiterating a point that has been made before, namely that this court will not lightly interfere with a case management decision. In Mannion v Ginty {2012] EWCA Civ 1667 at 18 Lewison LJ said: “It has been said more than once in this court it is vital for the Court of Appeal to uphold robust fair case management decisions made by first instance judges.””

At paragraph 27, a further extract is referred to from a further case which was Chartwell Estate Agents Limited v Fergies Properties SA [2014] 3 Costs Law Reports 588 , at paragraph 63 in the judgment of Davies LJ in which it said:


“”…the enjoinder that the Court of Appeal will not likely interfere with a case management decision and will support robust and fair case management decision should not be taken as applying when a CPR Rule 3.9 is, in point, only to decisions where relief from sanction has been refused. It does not. It, likewise, applies to robust and fair case management decisions where relief from sanction has been granted.””

At paragraph 28, there is consideration of the particular case which was dealing with strike out. Lewison LJ noted:


“In a case in which, as the judge himself said, the balance was a “fine” one, an appeal court should respect the balance struck by the first instance judge. As I have said, I would have found that the balance tipped the other way; but that is precisely because in cases where the balance is a fine one reasonable people can disagree. It is impossible to characterise the judge's decision as perverse.”

Then in paragraph 29:


“In Chartwell, Davies LJ also said that if parties understand the approach that this court will take to discretionary interlocutory decisions of first instances judges then satellite appeals should be avoided. I echo that hope.”

So, therefore, it is said by Mr Pavlovich, first, that this was a case management decision in relation to whether to grant an adjournment and that the burden is very high, to put it that way, upon the Revenue to show that, in fact, such a decision is one which should be dislodged because an appeal court should not lightly interfere with such decisions.


13. I have to say that, in relation to that element, it seems to me that as Mann J put it when giving permission to appeal in this case that there is a mixture both of case management and of exercise of discretion. I take both, therefore, the decision in relation to case management, to which I have referred and the likelihood and difficulty of overturning such decisions on appeal, into account as well as the well-known decisions in relation to the exercise of discretion which apply to the decision to grant relief on a bankruptcy petition or, in this case, to dismiss such a petition which, inevitably, is also a question of discretion. The well-known cases in relation to that show that one needs to show that the conclusion, or the decision in relation to the exercise of the discretion is one which has exceeded the generous ambit within which a reasonable agreement is possible. That is cited in the White Book at the notes at 52.11.4 and is very well known.


14. So, in fact, in this case, the Revenue has a difficult hill to climb. I have to turn back, therefore, to each of the grounds. The first ground is that it is unfair that they were not given an opportunity to put in further evidence and the effect of that, it is said, is the learned Registrar came to his decisions with a very one-sided picture. As I said, Mr Pavlovich says, on the other hand, that, in fact, it was open to the Registrar to take the decision he did and it is hard to dislodge such a decision. He also says that there had been plenty of time to put in further evidence, the evidence of Mr De Freitas having been available for about a week before the hearing and that it actually constituted, for the most part, a chronology of correspondence with the Revenue, itself. In fact, the representative of the Revenue on that occasion, 24 August, did make clear what further evidence would be necessary and Mr Pavlovich says the situation remained the same. Were the appeal allowed, it is not clear, he says, what further evidence would be put before the court.


15. In relation to ground 2 and the confusions to which I have referred, Mr Pavlovich says there was no confusion and he referred me back to the transcript, itself. He says that it was quite clear that the Registrar was, in fact, aware that the ball was in Mr De Freitas' court and that he had not yet commenced the process before the Adjudicator. He was waiting for further documentation from the Revenue and the Registrar, himself, urged Mr De Freitas to move quickly with that matter. So, that was not something which either the Registrar got wrong or that affected his decision making and reasoning in a way which would undermine that decision.


16. In relation to Section 284 , the point is taken that the Registrar appeared to have concluded that, in fact, the bank accounts would be frozen. He had been told that they had not been frozen so far but came to the conclusion that there was a Sword of Damocles, as he put it, and that was unacceptable during a period in which an adjudication might take place. It is said, on the behalf of the Revenue, that he got that wrong because transactions are not rendered void until one is adjudged bankrupt, although it relates back to the presentation of the petition. There is the exception in relation to banks to which I was referred at Section 284(5) and all of that matter could have been dealt with by a validation order or validation orders, in any event. As I have said, it is said that if the existence of Section 284 was, in itself, relied upon, it would drive a coach and horses through the whole insolvency procedure in relation to bankruptcy.


17. In relation to the fourth ground, the historic debts and own assessments, Mr Pavlovich says that he is instructed to say that it is possible that there is nothing owed at all. Therefore, it was appropriate for the view which was taken to have been taken. As I have said, Mr Pavlovich said the Registrar was not confused at all and he was within the proper exercise of his discretion and was not in any way perverse in either of the decisions he took (a) to dismiss the petition and (b) in this case, not to allow further time for evidence to be put before the court.


18. Having considered all of these matters, and taking into account the authorities to which I have been referred and the test for an appeal, it seems to me that this is a matter which fell within the proper exercise of the discretion of the Registrar. This was not something which was perverse in relation to the dismissal, nor was it something in relation to case management (in relation to which there is a much steeper gradient to climb,) that it was wrong for the Registrar to deal with in a way that he did. It seems to me it is quite clear that the Registrar did not misdirect himself in relation to whether, in fact, the process of putting the matter before the Adjudicator was underway. He was fully aware that it needed to be done and he urged Mr De Freitas to do so in within a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, I do not see, in any way, that his reasoning was incorrect in that matter. Furthermore, it seems to me that he took into account the circumstances of the case in relation that adjudication. Today, it is not suggested, on behalf of HM Revenue, that those details in relation to the position were incorrect. If one looks at the evidence which was before the court, it actually referred to the letter of 9 July 2015 which showed that the two-tier process had come to an end and the next thing would be to submit the complaint to the Adjudicator. It seems to me, therefore, that all the relevant facts and matters in that regard were before the Registrar and he was perfectly within his discretion in relation to the case management issue, first of all, to conclude that this matter was the subject of or would be the subject of complaint to the Adjudicator and that he was aware of the relevant circumstances. Therefore, I do not consider that there was more evidence in that regard which he needed and which would have resulted in a conclusion that it was appropriate for there to be an adjournment for more evidence. I do not consider that was necessary, on the face of the evidence which was unequivocal, and it is not disputed. In relation to that point, it seems to me it was not unfair or perverse in any way not to allow an adjournment.


19. Fourth, and furthermore, it seems to me it was open, in any event, in the proper exercise of the Registrar's discretion, in the circumstances of the existence of the two-tiered process having come to an end and the intention to proceed to an adjudication, for him to come to the conclusion he did and I do not consider it to be perverse or that his exercise of discretion exceeded the generous ambit within which a reasonable agreement is possible. As I have already mentioned, I do not consider he was incorrect or the facts on which he made his decision were incorrect in relation to awaiting a further letter, which was explained directly by Mr De Freitas to the Registrar and was the case and the fact that he was aware the adjudication process had yet to commence.


20. In relation to Section 284 , it seems to me that the Registrar certainly was concerned about the prospect of the bank freezing Mr De Freitas' accounts. I also accept that Section 284 is not specifically to that effect. At the end of the transcript, the Registrar states that he was concerned that the adjudication should go ahead in the absence of a sword of Damocles hanging over the head of Mr De Freitas. In that respect, it seems to me Section 284 is a Sword of Damocles in the sense of the prospect of all transactions being found to be void. I accept Mr Pavlovich's submission that it was the prospect which was being referred to by the Registrar and he was entitled to take that into account. That does not mean this is some kind of test case or that it, in effect, hauls the entirety of the insolvency procedure below the water in the way that was suggested by Mr Nersession. In this case, on the particular facts which the Registrar was entitled to take into account and which, in fact, were not in dispute as to the sequence of events in relation to the two-tier process and the need to proceed to the Adjudicator, in those rare circumstances, and taking into account all of those matters which, it seems to me, were taken into account by the Registrar, he was not outside the proper ambit of his exercise of discretion in concluding as he did. I reiterate, therefore, I do not consider that this case has wide implications as were suggested to me or that such a conclusion reached by the Registrar was in any way contrary to the regime of bankruptcy, in general. It is not true to say that no petition would ever get off the ground if such an attitude were taken. This was a decision made on the facts, which are not disputed, which was open to the Registrar to make.


21. The last ground, therefore, is that the Registrar failed to take into account that these were historic debts on the basis of the self-assessment made by Mr De Freitas and that it was not clear what he was saying about what was owed and what was not owed. In that regard, that the Registrar did enquire about the very nature of these debts. He was aware that they were income tax. He was also aware, in fact, that they were not inconsiderable and he was also aware that Mr De Freitas was self-employed and, therefore, it was very likely that they were as a result of self-assessment. So, it seems to me that all those matters, also, were within the compass of the Registrar's knowledge when he made his decision. It cannot be said his decision is either perverse for the purposes of the dismissal petition or that it was otherwise outside what is the robust and fair ambit of a case management decision for the purposes of deciding whether or not there ought to be an adjournment. Therefore, on that basis, I dismiss this appeal.