High Court brings long-running libel fight to an end

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A JUDGE has urged a company boss and a care home worker embroiled in a two-year libel fight triggered by a row over an 8ft fence around a ‘triangle of land’ in Ilkeston to build bridges.

Lord Justice Toulson said Richard Hayden, who runs Rayden Engineering, and Diane Charlton should be able to ‘negotiate a truce’ and end their legal battle centred on the land.

He called for both to ‘seek mediation’ after the Court of Appeal ruled on the latest round of their dispute over the plot, which is near Mr Hayden’s pipe-making works and Mrs Charlton’s home in Wentworth Street.

Three Appeal Court judges sitting in London had been told that the ‘distasteful saga’ had cost Mr Hayden’s firm close to £100,000 in legal fees and left Mrs Charlton’s terraced house ‘knee-deep in files’.

Mrs Charlton was angered when Rayden Engineering, which makes pipes for the gas industry, put a steel fence around the ‘unregistered’ land it planned to use for storage in 2006 – saying she felt like she was in prison, the court heard.

She launched a website and set out her complaints in ‘vivid and unrestrained style’ – saying Mr Hayden was ‘taking things that does not belong to him’ and ‘resorting to bullying, harassment and deception’, judges were told.

In 2009, Mr Hayden – and his firm – sued Mrs Charlton for libel and claimed damages.

Mrs Charlton, who represented herself in court, defended what she had written, pleading ‘justification’.

In 2010, a High Court judge ‘struck out’ the libel claims after concluding that Mr Hayden had ‘failed to comply with court orders’ and had ‘lost interest in litigation’.

And this week, Lord Justice Toulson, Lord Justice Pill and Lord Justice Sullivan dismissed Mr Hayden’s appeal against the ‘striking out’ order.