On being sued by Fergus Wilson

When I started this blog a little over three years ago, my first story was about millionaire landlord Fergus Wilson and how his conviction for assault disqualified him from election as Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner. I’m proud of that story and I stand by it. Now it appears Fergus Wilson is seeking to bankrupt me for telling the truth about him.

In March this year I received a notice that High Court Enforcement Agents – the sort of people you see on daytime TV taking people’s stuff away when they can’t pay their debts – intended to visit my house, and take my stuff. This, apparently, to enforce a judgment for £50,000 obtained by Wilson’s wife Judith against someone with a very similar, but crucially slightly different name to mine, and quoting the reference “Up the Creek” – presumably a reference to this blog. Fifty grand. Fifty bleeding grand.

I’d never heard anything of this claim before: no letter before action, no Claim Form, no notice of any hearing or a judgment: no clue that the claim existed or what it was about. And no opportunity to defend myself against whatever was going on. Nothing, until the point that people were preparing to drill the locks and take away my TV.

You might think there are things you can do, legal action you can take, when this happens to you: and you’d be right, normally. If you’ve never been given the opportunity to defend yourself against a judgment before it was made, you can apply to have it set aside, so that a proper hearing can take place. But because Wilson had given a slightly different name to mine as the defendant, the courts wouldn’t entertain a claim from me to set the judgment aside: I’m not a party to the case. They wouldn’t even let me have a copy of the judgment. To this day I haven’t seen it.

This left me in a legal limbo: not able to apply to set the judgment aside, but still having to deal with the HCEAs planning to take my stuff away. All I could do was to ask them nicely to leave me alone. Fortunately, they’ve left me alone.

And then last week I received a Statutory Demand from Wilson. This is a serious business: it’s a notice served by a creditor on a debtor under the Insolvency Act, giving them a limited time to pay or face bankruptcy. It’s specifically for debt collection, and absolutely not to be used where a debt is disputed. Wilson says I owe him over £50,000 and that he has judgment against me, but the claim number he’s quoted on his demand is the case his wife brought against a man with nearly-my-name: not a case that either he or I are even a party to.

This isn’t something anyone can ignore. If not dealt with you can be bankrupted quickly. I’ve had excellent legal advice and will be making a formal application to the Court to have this demand set aside, and for Wilson to be ordered to pay my costs. And all this time, I’ve never been given anything to do with this supposed claim, apart from demands to pay up.

There is a clue out there, though. Some time ago Wilson wrote an article for the Property118 website about plans he apparently has for a website for women victims of domestic violence, which included the following passage, now deleted:

As far as I’m aware I’m the only person that complained about Wilson’s nomination, but for the avoidance of doubt, I’m not responsible for his nomination being rejected: it was rejected because he didn’t fill in his nomination papers properly. He must know that’s the case because he tried to have the Returning Officer’s decision overturned by the courts. And I don’t believe I’ve made a false claim about his eligibility: I set out my reasoning in the post I linked to above and I’ll leave you to make up your own minds.

This isn’t the first time that Wilson has tried to sue people who’ve critcised him publicly. Last year he sued YouTuber Danny Hyde for making a video that was critical of his policy of excluding people of Asian origin from his houses: a policy that was overruled by the courts. (Wilson brought proceedings in his wife’s name, apparently by accident – doesn’t that sound familiar?) The year before, the courts struck out his attempt to sue a woman who had reported him to the police for alleged sexual assault. Meanwhile he is reportedly suing Kent Police for a million pounds after he was arrested as a result of that report.

It seems, though as things stand I have no way of knowing for sure, that Wilson is pursuing these demands for payment from me because he wants to silence scrutiny and criticism from me.

I refuse to be bullied into silence. Wilson tried to stand for high public office and it’s right that he should have faced proper public scrutiny. His eligibility for that office, which was at the very least called into question because of his own record of violent crime, was and remains a matter of legitimate public concern.

In the meantime, if you’re reading this, Fergus (and I know you are), I have one message. See you in court.

Postscript: the morning after I published this, Wilson published an article on the Property118 website, complaining that debt collectors working for a utility company had demanded payment from him, but wouldn’t give him any details of the supposed debt. He advocates keeping a detailed log of all the time spent dealing with this terrible situation, and seeking costs at the legal rate of £19 per hour. Thanks for the heads-up Fergus, I will.

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