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A boy named sue...judges uphold ban on serial litigant

By Alan Erwin

Published 01/12/2015

Senior judges in Belfast yesterday upheld a landmark order made against William John Morrow on the grounds of him being a
Senior judges in Belfast yesterday upheld a landmark order made against William John Morrow on the grounds of him being a "vexatious litigant"

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 any new legal action without permission.

Senior judges in Belfast yesterday upheld a landmark order made against William John Morrow on the grounds of him being a "vexatious litigant".

Lord Justice Weir said his apparent lack of any insight has already harmed police and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, forcing them to defend separate multi-million pound claims.

He said: "The appellant has doggedly pursued each one of this series of hopeless cases with tiresome persistence to every judicial tier."

Mr Morrow was declared a vexatious litigant last year for persistently mounting legal actions with no merits.

Attorney General John Larkin QC secured the order - believed to be the first of its kind granted in the province - which forbids him from issuing fresh civil proceedings without court permission.

It came after he mounted four separate High Court actions between 2007 and 2012:

• 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 NI 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, this time against the PSNI, for allegedly recruiting "criminals" from within Strathclyde Police.

All four of Mr Morrow's actions were struck out, with costs awarded against him. Once again he represented himself at the Court of Appeal as he sought to overturn a ruling that blocks his future route to unapproved lawsuits.

But Lord Justice Weir, sitting with Lord Chief Justice Morgan and Lord Justice Weatherup, backed the previous finding that Mr Morrow had habitually and persistently commenced vexatious proceedings without any reasonable grounds. The order made against him cannot be faulted, the judges concluded.

Mr Morrow, they held, had advanced "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 Mr Morrow seems "impervious" to every explanation as to why his claims are ill-founded.

The judge added: "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."

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