Saturday, July 12, 2014

Judge criticises British police for investigating 'outrageous' mother and daughter spat

A judge has criticised the intelligence of a police force as he warned it should never have got involved in a mother-daughter spat which began when one left their joint business and set up a rival estate agent.

The catastrophic falling out between Nicola Low, 71, and her daughter, Caroline Baines, 40, came to a head when the younger woman complained about her meagre maternity pay.

A stream of angry letters culminated in Mrs Low making an "extremely nasty" complaint to police and the arrest of her daughter's innocent business partner, who was held in a police cell for five hours.

Judge Richard Seymour QC described the contents of the police statement as "outrageous" and said it contained "a number of barefaced lies".

He added: "The decision of Hertfordshire Police even to investigate the complaints of Mrs Low, still less to arrest Mrs Mogridge, was not a tribute to the intelligence of the officers concerned."

Mrs Low and Mrs Baines had been in business together, running a letting agency in Welwyn Garden City, Herts, until a catastrophic falling out at the beginning of 2010.

Mrs Low sued her daughter for £100,000, accusing her of betraying her trust and 'pinching clients' after she left Halcyon House Lettings went off to set up a directly competing business.

But Mrs Baines, who now runs Mint Lettings and Management, and her business partner, Susan Mogridge, accused Mrs Low of harassment and asked Judge Richard Seymour QC to award them £50,000 damages.

But Judge Seymour dismissed both mother's and daughter's claims, describing the case as the "most unhappy family discord".

Criticising Mrs Low's behaviour in making a "malicious" complaint to police, the judge said there was "no obvious reason" for taking legal action against her daughter "other than spite".

After relations deteriorated in 2010 and they parted ways, Mrs Low contacted Hertfordshire police to accuse Mrs Mogridge of theft.

The judge said: "The contents of the police statement strike me as outrageous. It contained a number of barefaced lies.

"Mrs Low was setting out not merely to be mischievous, but malicious, in making complaints to the police which she must have know were totally without any justification.

"It is obvious that, by making her complaint to the police, Mrs Low was setting out to cause trouble for Mrs Mogridge and also, if possible, for Mrs Baines".

The judge said he was "entirely satisfied" that Mrs Low's complaint to the police against Mrs Mogridge, who formerly worked for Halcyon House, was "malicious" and made "with a view to causing alarm, distress and anxiety".

But that single incident, he ruled, was not a "course of conduct" that could be called harassment.

The court heard Mrs Baines had been managing director of Halcyon House, owning 45% of the shares, and her mother, who founded the business, had always intended that her daughter should eventually take full control.

However, James Purnell, for Mrs Baines, said that, by the time she gave birth to Henry, her mother had "wanted to take her out of the equation".

Original report here




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