Legal action against councillors and Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Association dismissed by High Court Judge

Hamish Hunter and Cllr Oliver Cooper. Picture: Hamish Hunter

Hamish Hunter and Cllr Oliver Cooper. Picture: Hamish Hunter - Credit: Archant

Court action brought against a number of sitting councillors and the Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Association (H&KCA) by a former party candidate have been dismissed.

Hamish Hunter’s legal action concerned his disputed “deselection” before the 2018 local elections, which he claimed was “unlawful”.

The action named H&KCA and six prominent local members, alleging there had been breaches of the Equality Act and contract law in relation to replacing him with Maria Higson - who was subsequently elected - and how subsequent complaints were handled.

The allegations were always firmly denied, and on May 7 Senior Master Barbara Fontaine of the High Court’s Queen’s Bench decision struck out all of Mr Hunter’s claims.

In her judgement Master Fontaine ruled the Mr Hunter “knew or ought to have known” his Equality Act and contractual claims should have been made in the County Court,

Master Fontaine struck the claims out, rather than transfer them to County Court on the basis that Mr Hunter’s conduct – using the fact that proceedings were to take place in the High Court – “amounted to an abuse of process”.

She went on to rule Mr Hunter’s primary aim was “to achieve his aim of reinstatement as a candidate for the local constituency by intimidation, bullying and harassment”.

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The judge separately ruled that in Mr Hunter’s argument there were “no reasonable grounds” for naming Cllrs Higson and Spinella in the action,

The others named were leader of the opposition Cllr Oliver Cooper – against whom a separate defamation claim has also been dismissed on the basis it did not meet procedural guidelines, was made too late, and had an “improper dominant purpose” – along with councillors Higson, Spinella, and Henry Newman, and H&KCA officials David Douglas and Kirsty Roberts.

A spokesperson for the H&HCA said: “We are pleased that all of Mr Hunter’s claims have been struck out by the High Court. This decisive judgment, made by a senior Judge after thorough scrutiny, enables us to continue to focus all our efforts on working hard for local residents and businesses.”

Mr Hunter said in a statement: “I have been lucky to have had great support from friends, family and loved ones throughout this. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them for standing by me and standing up for me, especially those who did so (both openly and covertly) from within the Hampstead and Kilburn Conservatives.”

Mr Hunter, a barrister, has been ordered to pay all costs related to the cases.