Alliance Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Billy Webb has said he is pleased the High Court has dismissed an appeal by an Antrim resident against a county court harassment injunction relating to false claims about him.
The initial case was taken by Councillor Webb following the allegations about him on Tracy Bell’s Facebook page. The injunction was granted against Ms Bell, of Oaklands in Antrim, by a judge at Belfast County Court on November 28, 2019, forbidding her from harassing Councillor Webb.
Having subsequently breached the injunction, an application was made for her committal to prison. Ms Bell appealed the injunction in December 2019 to the High Court. Councillor Webb’s lawyers made an application to dismiss her appeal on the grounds she had failed to comply with court directions and rules, and not taken active steps to pursue her case.
At a hearing on April 16, 2021 the judge granted the defence application to dismiss the appeal. Ms Bell has been ordered to pay the costs of the High Court and County Court cases, and is now also liable for damages of £2,500 plus interest. The original case has now been returned to the County Court to determine whether Ms Bell should be sent to prison for alleged breaches of the injunction on social media.
“At no time has Ms Bell articulated to anyone any evidence to back the abhorrent claims she made about me, as they don’t exist,” said Councillor Webb.
“Unfortunately, Ms Bell appears to be her own worst enemy – my solicitor has previously contacted her to request a retraction and apology, but that has been ignored. That inevitably led to legal proceedings which she has now comprehensively lost.
“It is part of the role of a public representative to accept not everyone will agree with you, however, the line must be drawn in unacceptable and defamatory falsehoods, which was the case in this instance. I was left with no other choice than court action, and I am pleased the court has dismissed Ms Bell’s appeal.”