The five-year campaign targeted not only the judge, but his family as well
The Bristol Crown Court has sentenced a stalker to eight years in prison for aggravated stalking of a UK circuit judge, reported the Law Society Gazette.
Javed Sheikh, 43, published what was described as “highly offensive personal attacks” on a blog in a five-year online harassment campaign.
Sheikh’s vendetta against Judge Simon Oliver began in January 2010. Sheikh, a former hospital employee, found himself referred to the independent safeguarding authority. Subsequently, he was added to barred lists under the disclosure and barring service.
Oliver and two lay members presided over Sheikh's appeal in private at the Upper Tribunal. The appeal was ultimately dismissed, and permission to appeal was denied. Sheikh's complaint about Oliver was also met with dismissal.
In his sentencing remarks, Justice Saini pointed out that Sheikh's campaign, which involved a mix of harassment and stalking, targeted not only Oliver but his family as well through the posting of comments, personal photographs and statements about the family.
The campaign resulted in personal threats being made against Oliver and his family. In a statement published by the Gazette, Saini said that Sheikh’s goal was to “encourage disgruntled litigants who had appeared before Judge Oliver to join your army of hate”.
Saini also noted that the threats against Oliver and his family included those of sexual violence and physical attacks on Oliver's home, as well as “clear monitoring of his movements” through the blog. Saini acknowledged that these actions were intended to “encourage physical confrontation or attacks”.
Saini added that as a result of the stalking, Oliver needed to make significant lifestyle changes. Oliver checked outside his house whenever he entered or exited; his family all left social media; and the judge felt disengaged from family activities.
“All of your allegations about misconduct and crimes by Judge Oliver were totally false. No attempt was made to justify them at trial. Online stalkers like you have the ability to recruit an army of followers whose conduct massively expands the effect of your stalking. The multiplication effect of your stalking by online media meant in many respects your conduct was more serious than that of a conventional stalker”, Saini said in a statement published by the Gazette. “It is significant that you continued to maintain and develop the blog, even during and after civil proceedings had been launched against you and even after you were found to be responsible for the blog and were injuncted from any further publication by the High Court in late 2019”.
Saini said that Sheikh’s offence was such that it “had an adverse impact on the administration of justice”. Oliver's testimony revealed that he sometimes felt that confidence in him, particularly among self-represented litigants, had been shaken.
“I am satisfied that a level of imprisonment of this period is a necessary and proportionate response both to the interference of the blog and your dissemination of it with Judge Oliver’s private life and the need to protect the authority and impartiality of the judiciary within the framework of Article 10(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights”, Saini told Sheikh in a statement published by the Gazette. “Our democratic society requires that judicial office holders be open to criticism of their judicial conduct and decisions. Your acts however went far beyond any legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression”.
In addition to the prison term, Sheikh was slapped with an indefinite restraining order. He would not be allowed to follow or contact Oliver and his family; moreover, he could not come within 100 metres of First Avenue House, in High Holborn, London except for “legitimate purpose” and with the order of a Family Division judge.