Northern Ireland

'Vexatious litigant' William John Morrow loses legal ban appeal

A man who tried to sue police forces in Northern Ireland and Scotland for £1bn each has lost an appeal against being banned from taking new legal action.

Judges in Belfast upheld a landmark order made against William John Morrow for being a "vexatious litigant".

He had brought a series of High Court actions that were all struck out.

The judge said he had "doggedly pursued each one of this series of hopeless cases with tiresome persistence to every judicial tier".

No reasonable grounds

Mr Morrow, who is originally from Scotland, was declared a vexatious litigant last year for persistently mounting legal actions with no merit.

Northern Ireland's attorney general secured the order - believed to be the first of its kind granted in Northern Ireland - that forbids him from issuing fresh civil proceedings without court permission.

He again represented himself at the Court of Appeal as he sought to overturn the ruling.

He had taken four separate High Court actions between 2007 and 2012, including:

  • A case against Strathclyde Police claiming damages of £1bn and £40m for alleged malicious prosecution and false imprisonment in 1997/98
  • A £500,000 claim against the Scottish Law Society over Mr Morrow's divorce proceedings in 1993
  • An £80m action against the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for the alleged allocation of an unsuitable upper floor flat in 2010 that he claimed exacerbated his asthma
  • Another £1bn and £40m lawsuit against the Police Service of Northern Ireland for allegedly recruiting "criminals" from within Strathclyde Police.

All four of Mr Morrow's actions were struck out, with costs awarded against him.

'Lack of insight'

A panel of Court of Appeal judges backed the previous finding that Mr Morrow had habitually and persistently begun vexatious proceedings without any reasonable grounds.

The judges said Mr Morrow had brought forward "the same baseless contentions repetitively until each case had been advanced as far as he could possibly make it go".

Dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Weir said he seemed "impervious" to every explanation why his claims are ill-founded.

"His apparent lack of any insight might be thought unfortunate were it not for the harm which it has done and would, we are satisfied, if uncontrolled, be likely to continue to do both to those who are made defendants to his misguided and promiscuous litigation and to the orderly administration of justice," the judge added.

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