A permanent anti-harassment injunction was granted against an airline’s former cabin attendant who had launched a campaign of intimidation against the company’s employees following the failure of his unfair dismissal claim.
The applicant airline company applied for a permanent anti-harassment injunction against the respondent former employee.
The respondent had worked for the airline as a cabin attendant and had been required to pass two safety exams, but had failed. He was permitted to re-sit and passed, but then failed a third exam. It was decided that the third failure amounted to gross misconduct and he was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing. He felt that he had not received proper training and was extremely aggrieved. He brought a claim which was struck out by an employment tribunal on the basis that it had no reasonable prospect of success, and because of what the tribunal found to be his vexatious conduct and intimidation of witnesses. The respondent had sent offensive emails to individuals who worked for the airline and had named them on social media websites. He had made accusations of racism and used threatening, insulting and abusive language. At an earlier application for an interim injunction he had given undertakings that he would cease his behaviour, nevertheless further emails had been sent.
HELD: The application was not brought by the individuals who had been subjected to harassment, but it was clear from Merlin Entertainments LPC v Cave  EWHC 3036 (QB),  E.M.L.R. 3 that the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 s.1(1)(a) could be relied on by a corporate entity, Merlin Entertainments considered. The court was satisfied that the airline had shown that the respondent’s behaviour met the requirements of the 1997 Act, Hayes v Willoughby  UKSC 17,  1 W.L.R. 935 followed. The respondent had not produced any evidence to support his argument that his behaviour had been provoked by the airline, or that he suffered from any psychiatric stress disorder. He had acted of his own free will. Even if he had established that he had a mental illness that was not a defence under the Act, R. v C (Sean Peter)  EWCA Crim 1251,  2 F.L.R. 757 followed. He had directly contravened the undertakings which he had given and had made clear threats against the airline and its employees. He had set out to intimidate in a disgraceful manner and his behaviour was offensive and frightening. There was no evidence that the airline had acted in a racist manner. The respondent did not have any statutory defences. There were no steps which the airline could have taken other than seeking injunctive relief and it was not realistic to ignore the respondent. It was therefore necessary for the court to stop his behaviour.