Rolling Stones art dealer set for High Court libel battle with ex-girlfriend

Raj Prem. Picture: Kate Power.

Raj Prem. Picture: Kate Power. - Credit: Archant

A Hampstead art dealer is being sued for up to £50,000 by a former girlfriend who claims he bombarded her with abusive emails from aliases and tried to damage her career as a top art auctioneer.

Raj Prem, 59, who runs his own company selling and exhibiting photographs of rock musicians, is set for a High Court battle with Louise Proud, head of photographs for the London arm of international auction house Phillips.

Ms Proud, of Tanza Road, South End Green, alleges in court papers that Mr Prem harassed her with emails and text messages for more than a year after their break-up in February 2013, including one text which read: “Worst person I have ever met, everyone hates you in the business, I hope you have a breakdown.”

He is also accused of sending her harassing emails under aliases, such as “Tim Hayle”, as well as sending defamatory emails from aliases to various art galleries.

This included one email from “Clive Wadhurst” to Ben Burdett at the Atlas Gallery, in Marylebone, enquiring about the sale of photographs and asking for Mr Burdett’s view on Ms Proud.

According to court papers, part of the email read: “I was told she had a reputation for being difficult.”

In his defence papers, Mr Prem, who lives in Parliament Hill, an adjacent street to Ms Proud, insists the text messages were part of an exchange with Ms Proud in which she insulted his father and told him to “keep his tarka dahl on”.

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He denies harassing Ms Proud and insists that his “conduct and correspondence was designed to heal the wounds caused to both of them, with the intention of their being able to continue their mutually beneficial professional relationship”.

He also denies sending any of the emails from alleged aliases.

Mr Prem’s defence documents mention a decision to cut his business ties with Zebra One Gallery, in Perrin’s Court, Hampstead, with whom he exhibited exclusive photographs of The Rolling Stones and Marilyn Monroe, because of its links with Ms Proud.

The documents also reject the allegation he harassed Ms Proud after approaching her at The Bull & Last pub, in Highgate Road, Dartmouth Park, where the pair were dining separately on May 19 last year – insisting he only wished to apologise for any “discomfort which his presence might have caused”.

Ms Proud has enlisted renowned lawyer Charlotte Harris, a partner at eminent law firm Mishcon de Reya, to fight her case.

The media law and defamation specialist, who lives in Hampstead with her investment banker husband and three children, rose to prominence by representing a number of high-profile victims of the phone hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch’s News International company, such as Ulrika Jonsson and disgraced PR guru Max Clifford.

Ms Proud is claiming damages of up to £50,000 for libel and harassment, as well as applying for an injunction banning Mr Prem from defaming and harassing her.

A date for a trial at the High Court is yet to be fixed.