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: Judge agrees my reputation was damaged but says free speech is more important and I lose my case on a technicality.

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.



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.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Proof that David de Freitas lied to the public

A few days ago we had disclosure from David de Freitas lawyers, as part of normal trial preparation. Th trial is now 3 months away. Soon we will exchange witness statements.

Disclosure is the exchange of documents that can help or hinder your case. If you have any documents relevant to the case then you have to show them to the other side, otherwise it is contempt of court.

What was very interesting, was that one of the documents we obtained was a letter written by the Director of Public Prosecutions to David de Freitas. On page 3 of the the letter she says:


A lot of this evidence quite simply contradicted what Eleanor had said in her ABE interview. Some of it laid the ground for a motive as to why she may have wanted to make up a false complaint, namely that Mr Economou had had sex with her and then later told her he never wanted to see her again, about which she felt bitter. Other evidence amounted to her effectively apologising for making allegations to a friend and seeking reconciliation. There were 10 such pieces of evidence. As most of it derived from message exchange and CCTV footage it was incontrovertible evidence, no depending on the frailties of human memory or susceptible to the influence of loyalty or pressure.


The letter was dated 3rd of December 2014. This was really important because it showed that David de Freitas knew about the evidence in the case against his daughter before he published false and defamatory statements a week later in the Telegraph and Guardian.

David de Freitas was told by the DPP:

- There was CCTV

- There were witness statements
- There were text messages
- A motive for the false allegations

But what did he tell the public? He told them it was a "myth" and that there was no evidence against he daughter.

We must remember that it was David de Freitas who went to the press. Not me. He went to the press first and he started to mislead the public from the very start. And did it again and again.

This was proof that David de Freitas was a liar. He knew the facts but told the public the opposite. He wanted to confuse and mislead the public to pursue his own agenda.

Click here to read the full letter.

Page 3 of letter from Director of Public Prosecutions to David de Freitas

I offer to settle my libel claim for a nominal £1 of damages.

The reason I am suing David de Freitas is very simple: 

a) To clear my name 
b) And stop to Mr de Freitas from repeating his allegations.

It is now over a year since I issued my libel proceedings. However David de Freitas is not backing down. Last year his lawyers wrote to us saying he would continue going to the press and was free to repeat his allegations at any time. This is very worrying.

The trial is now just three months away. This thing could be stopped now if we are both willing to compromise.

I know Mr de Freitas is not a rich man, so I have made an offer he can't refuse. I have said that if he pays me £1 in damages and just 25% of my legal costs I will back down, on condition he makes a short statement and promises to make not to repeat his allegations. I am not asking for him to say sorry because he never will, just an acknowledgement that he accidentally got things wrong.

Considering that I have been wrongly accused again and again I think this is a pretty reasonable offer.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Harassment Charge: First court appearance

I was dreading the press. I knew they would be at court.

My plan was wear casual clothing instead of wearing a suit. If I wore jeans and a casual jacket the press would probably not think I was a defendant. It might buy me 10 seconds by which time I'd already be in the court building. 

Unfortunately I was wrong.

I arrived at court and tried to sneakily walk into the entrance without them noticing, but they noticed all right.

In fact it was very awkward. There was a large queue to get into the building. I had to queue up and wait outside whilst they snapped away with their cameras over over 5 minutes. There even some guy taking a video of me. Once in the court building I would have been safe because you're not allowed to take photos in the court. But outside it was fair game.

Today was just a preliminary hearing to answer the charge of Harassment. In a few weeks a trial date would be set.

Here is how the press reported today's events:


Today Economou stood in the dock wearing stonewashed jeans, a blue check shirt and a navy jumper and spoke only to confirm his name, age and date of birth and to plead not guilty to one charge of harassing Mr de Freitas between November 5 2014 and October 2015.

He is alleged to have sent an email directly to Mr de Freitas - which his lawyer today claimed set out the evidence Mr Economou was intending to rely on in court - and a series of emails to him via his solicitor Harriet Wistrich.

He also uploaded voice recordings to YouTube, Vimeo and Liveleaks and maintained a website about the allegations against him.

The website is still online but the domain name has been changed.

As well as denying the charges, Economou claims they do not amount to criminal conduct and are defective as they are not particular enough.

His lawyer Gideon Cammerman said: 'The later selections of the alleged conduct do not amount to criminal conduct.

'The charges are insufficiently particular as of the criminal procedure rules.

'For those reasons it is said that the charge is defective.'

Economou was bailed on conditions that he does not to contact David de Freitas or Ms Wistrich, except in the presence or through solicitors, and not to publish anything about the case, save for in relation to the libel proceedings, until his next appearance at court.

In court, he and his lawyer Gideon Cammerman challenged the conditions by claiming it would prevent him from his right to rebut things said about him in the media.

Speaking directly to District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe when asked if he understood the bail conditions, Economou said: 'No, I don't understand.

'I have a website that says David de Freitas is going to trial for libel.

'It is very important that the website stays up as it says that I am suing him for libel.

'It explains very clearly for the people, my friends, acquaintances, new friends, that google me every day.

'It says that David de Freitas went to the press and said I was a rapist and I need to explain that I am not a rapist.'

District Judge Roscoe said the bail conditions would not force him to take down anything that was already in the public domain.

She said: 'If you were to take that material which is on a particular website and you were to then copy it and disseminate it on another website that would be publishing.'

She added: 'If you breach that you will be in breach of your bail.'

Mr Cammerman said that imposing a non-contact condition would not be fair as Mr de Freitas's lawyers had themselves requested face-to-face meetings with Mr Economou.

He added: 'Of course there was ongoing contact between Mr Economou and Mr de Freitas about his interviews with the national media and what was in them.'

But Judge Roscoe said that the condition would not prevent him from attending the required legal meetings in the presence of solicitors.

The court is looking for a date to have a one hour preliminary hearing to decide whether the charges need to be further particularised and whether some parts do not amount to criminal conduct.

A trial date will then be set. The libel trial is set to run for ten days from 13 June 2016.


First appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court