European Court of Human Rights,
Council of Europe ,
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex,
Date: 10th September 2004
Myself v. Norway
I represent myself in this case and am writing to introduce an application with the Court under Article 34 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I was born in London on the [....................] to a German mother and Egyptian father and am a citizen of the United Kingdom .
In libel proceedings brought in Norway my Norwegian lawyer, Stig Lunde, filed on my behalf an Amended writ on 13th January 2000 by way of a private criminal prosecution of the Norwegian newspaper Drammens Tidende, its editor Hans Odde, its journalist Ingunn Røren and a fourth defendant called Heidi Schøne (maiden name: Heidi Overaa). The claim was for judicial declaration that the newspaper's defamatory statements about me printed in an article dated 14th July 1998 , were null and void and compensation for non-pecuniary damage. The article was entitled, “Sexually harassed for 16 years”. It repeated much of what was printed in a very similar article in Drammens Tidende dated 27th May 1995 entitled, “Badgered and Hunted for Thirteen years”. Drammens Tidende's 27th May 1995 article lifted much of what was said in Verdens Gang's article of 26th May 1995 entitled, “13 years of Sex-terror” and Bergens Tidende's article of 24th May 1995 entitled, “13 years of Harrassment”.
A former lawyer, Mr. Karsten Gjone, missed the three year time limit to issue writs against the three newspapers over the May 1995 articles and was found guilty of professional misconduct for his negligence by the Norwegian Bar Association after I lodged a complaint.
To my knowledge there have been twelve prominent, usually front page, national and provincial newspaper stories on this subject in Norway from 1995 to 2003. The main source of information to the newspapers was the defendant Heidi Schøne, a Norwegian au pair who I befriended in England in 1982. She was for a short period in 1988, after a second suicide attempt, a psychiatric patient in a hospital in Norway but is now on a full disability pension for mental disorder which her psychiatrist, in evidence, attributed in large part to sexual and mental abuse suffered at the hands of Norwegian citizens including her own family, over the years. By the age of 18 she had had two abortions to the same Norwegian man.
Heidi Schøne has added me to the list of abusers and the end result, helped by a pernicious nine year press campaign in Norway, is that I find myself branded by the Norwegian courts as, inter alia, a rapist, a stalker, a sex fiend and a potential child killer, solely on the uncorroborated and untested word of Heidi Schøne, now aged 41, whose testimony was ruled “in essence” to be true.
Moreover, because I publicized my own side of the story via an information campaign, including a website, I was given a sentence of 8 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years under Section 390(a) of the Norwegian Criminal Code on 17th October 2003 , the day after I finished prosecuting my Court of Appeal libel case. The prison sentence is no longer suspended because I refused to close down my website on my return to England . I cannot now travel to any Scandinavian country due to the mutual enforcement law, without fear of arrest and deportation to Norway and to prison.
Significantly, up to the time of the May 1995 newspaper stories, the Norwegian police had never received complaints from Heidi Schøne in the nature of endless years of sex-terror/harassment. Specific allegations printed in the newspapers in 1995 had not been reported to the police at all, eg., that I sent her 400 obscene letters (all of which she said she threw away!), that I threatened to kill her son (in 1988 - in writing!). Her 1998 allegation to the police of aggravated rape was withheld from the police for thirteen years after the time of the alleged incident. And it was only after I issued my writ against Drammens Tidende and Heidi Schøne in January 2000 that the police, on very flimsy grounds, acted against me and then only by, eventually, asking me to pay a small fine of 5,000 kroner which I refused to do. Even a senior officer at the Bergen police and a senior officer at the Drammen police told me in 1996 that they did not believe Heidi Schøne's claims and direct evidence of their opinions was submitted in evidence to the court, and accepted as admissible.
A preliminary hearing took place in Norway on 25th August 2000 before Judge Anders Stilloff who ruled that I was allowed to sue Drammens Tidende, its editor, journalist and Heidi Schøne over the newspaper's article of 14th July 1998 .
Drammens Tidende then appealed and on 24th November 2000 the Borgarting Court of Appeal dismissed my action against the newspaper Drammens Tidende and editor and journalist on the grounds that I had in 1999 waived my right to sue the newspaper because I had agreed to this to allow the Norwegian Press Complaints Commission (the PFU) to look into my complaint to them.This, in spite of the fact that the PFU were not allowed, on their own admission, to adjudicate on whether the statements made in the newspaper were true or false: a position that I had not been made aware of. My lawyer, Stig Lunde, then appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Court of Appeal had misinterpreted the law. By their decision of 16th February 2001 the Supreme Court dismissed my appeal because my lawyer had missed the two week time limit to appeal, by 14 days.
This left only Heidi Schøne as the defendant in my action which under Norwegian law automatically turned into a civil action.
When we knew that Drammens Tidende had dropped out of my criminal libel prosecution, my lawyer Stig Lunde, began a civil action against the exact same set of defendants. This was in the hope that the civil courts would adopt a different approach to the question of my use of the PFU. But to no avail as the civil court of first instance, the forliksradet – whose adjudicators are not lawyers but laymen arbitrators – simply adopted the Court of Appeal ruling from my criminal prosecution and dismissed my action against Drammens Tidende its editor and journalist, but not Heidi Schøne.
The two actions merged into one civil action against Heidi Schøne culminating in a four day trial on 15th January 2002 before one judge, Anders Stilloff – the same judge who sat on the preliminary hearing on 25th August 2000 at Drammen City Court. There are no jury trials for libel cases in Norway : the judiciary decide the case. On 11th February 2002 Heidi Schøne was acquitted and awarded costs. On 13th March 2002 my lawyer, Stig Lunde, submitted an appeal against the judgement in its entirety on the grounds that the decision was wrong in respect of both application of the law and assessment of the evidence. A supplemental appeal pleading was submitted on 12th June 2002 . The appeal was heard on 13th to 16th October 2003 before three judges. I was acting as a litigant in person with an interpreter at my side. On 14th November 2003 my appeal was dismissed.
On 11th February 2004 my lawyer, Stig Lunde appealed to the Supreme Court against the Borgarting Court of Appeal judgement in its entirety, asserting that the decision was wrong in respect of both application of the law and assessment of the evidence.
On 17th March 2004 the Supreme Court refused to give me leave to appeal to them, giving no reasons . Under Norwegian law the Supreme Court are not obliged to give reasons where a claim for damages is under 100,000 Norwegian kroner. My claim for non-pecuniary damages against Heidi Schøne was only 50,000 kroner. The costs of the whole action were awarded against me.
I submit that in the circumstances of this case there has been a violation of Articles 6, 10, 13 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, detailed below.
I ask for compensation plus costs under Article 41 which will include all my legal costs, translation fees and other reasonable expenses incurred in this case.
This letter has been introduced within six months of the exhaustion of domestic remedies in Norway in accordance with Article 35(1) of the European Convention. A completed application form, together with a file of relevant copy documents and reports on the court proceedings will be submitted shortly.
Violations of Article 6 – Right to a fair trial
1 . Judge Thore Rønning sat on both Court of Appeal cases for the judgements of 24th November 2000 (which I did not attend) and 14th November 2003 , in breach of the rules of natural justice which gave rise to a potential conflict of interest including an appearance of bias. I did not know Judge Rønning sat on the earlier appeal as the Court of Appeal only sent me the 24 th November 2000 judgement this year.
2 . For the 13th to 16th October 2003 Court of Appeal case, in front of three judges, which I took as a litigant in person, it became apparent that neither Judge Thore Rønning nor Judge Anita Lund had a sufficient working knowledge of English. This was a relevant factor in this case as the presiding judge, Agnar Nilsen Jnr., who spoke fluent English, allowed me to present my case in English which for the most part was not translated into Norwegian by my interpreter. This considerably reduced the effectiveness of having three judges sit on and then decide the case, especially given the hostility of Judge Nilsen Jnr. towards me. I could not be confident that he had communicated my representations to his colleagues on the bench. No reference or assessment whatsoever is made in their judgement of 14th November 2003 to any of the arguments detailed in my appeal papers, leaving me with the impression that none of my arguments were even considered. The substantial points at issue were not dealt with at all by the Court of Appeal which constitutes an error in law. [I refer the Court to the case of Van de Hurk v Netherlands (1994) 18 EHRR 481 whereby it was held that Article 6 (1) obliges domestic courts to give reasons for their decisions but not necessarily a detailed answer to every argument. I submit that the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court failed this test].
3 . At the start of the October 2003 Court of Appeal case Judge Nilsen Jnr. told me of his unhappiness with my website (called www.norway-shockers.com ) which he had looked at: an ill omen. The website contained several articles exposing xenophobic attitudes and ill treatment by Norwegians of the outsider, including newspaper articles from ‘The Times' and ‘The Independent' of London .
Judge Nilsen Jnr., without giving reasons, ruled against my request to call the Attorney-General of Norway who I had subpoenaed to give evidence in his role in the cover-up over the inquiry into the earlier perjury of police sergeant Torill Sorte.
This policewoman swore on oath at the January 2002 trial and by a 1997 witness statement (only given to me in 2002!) that my mother told her that she, my mother, had put me in mental hospital! My mother, furious, wrote to Judge Stilloff in Spring 2002 to say that Sorte was a liar. Torill Sorte, now committed to maintaining the lie, later repeated her claim on oath at the October 2003 trial. My family doctor's letter given to the Court stated categorically that I have never received treatment in a psychiatric hospital.
At the end of the October 2003 trial, Judge Nilsen Jnr. then explained in stark terms how he was “ashamed” to have taken part in the trial because, he told me, Heidi Schøne was so stressed out and that he would now consider fining me for bringing the appeal (which presumably would also include a fine for my lawyer, Stig Lunde, who drafted the appeal papers). I was then immediately arrested at the door of the courtroom (something Judge Nilsen Jnr. must surely have co-operated on) and charged by two policemen under Section 390(a) of the Criminal Code for promoting my website which only went on-line in October 2000. I received a prison sentence of 8 months suspended for two years (now no longer suspended). These machinations only reinforced my firm belief that the Court of Appeal was not interested in giving me a fair trial. They had already prejudged the matter.
4 . The Drammen City Court civil judgement of 11th February 2002 referred to and used against me a criminal conviction given on the 16th November 2001 under Section 390(a) of the Criminal Code, whereby I was fined 10,000 kroner for a three year campaign (1995-1998) publicizing my side of the story which included reference to the defendant Heidi Schøne's life history. I was tried and convicted in absentia and the Magistrates Court declared that it would have considered a prison sentence but for the practical difficulty of extraditing me from England . This criminal conviction violated my right to freedom of expression under Article10 and also violated Article 6 (3) (b) in that only three weeks notice of the Magistrates Court hearing was given to me via Interpol and the criminal defence lawyer who took my case only received full police statements and ‘evidence' the day before the trial. I was in the midst of preparing for my own imminent civil libel prosecution case and did not have the time to prepare for my defence on the criminal charges. Besides which, the Police Prosecutor had ignored my earlier written submissions to him requesting substantiation of his various charges, when he wanted to do “a deal” and fine me 5,000 kroner in return for me pleading guilty under Section 390(a) of the Criminal Code. I had argued that it was my right to respond to horrendous newspaper allegations, only to be told much later by my defence lawyer Harald Wibye, that Section 390(a) was a strict liability offence. I wanted to appeal but Mr. Wibye told me it would be hopeless and in attending any appeal trial personally I would “definitely” receive a 6-12 month prison sentence. Section 390 of the Criminal Code provides for a defence of justified comment and Harald Wibye had argued in the Magistrates Court that this was the section that I should have been charged under. Even the magistrate herself had to retire to refer to her legal texts, but for unexplained reasons still decided to proceed with the original charge under Section 390(a). [I have enclosed with my Application an account of the events leading up to and following that conviction including the trial itself as related to me by my defence lawyer Harald Wibye.
I would however also like to add that in this criminal trial there was no equality of arms with regard to the disclosure of evidence for the “attempted rape” / “actual rape” allegations arising out of the same incident. In the case of Rowe and Davis v. United Kingdom No. 28901/95 of 16-2-00 ; (2000) 30 EHRR1, the Court declared that failure of the prosecution to disclose documents to the defence may impair the fairness of the proceedings. In her verdict 16th November 2001the judge indicated that she seemed to believe Heidi Schøne's allegation of actual rape (which allegation was then repeated in the newspaper Drammens Tidende). Before the 30th October 2001 criminal trial my defence lawyer, Harald Wibye should have been given an opportunity to see both Heidi Schøne's 1986 police witness statement alleging attempted rape and her changed 1998 police witness statement alleging actual rape, but the police prosecutor disclosed neither. Harald Wibye was therefore unable to see the detail of the statements and cross-examine Heidi Schøne on the conflicting statements in order to examine her credibility as a reliable witness].
The banner headlines in Drammens Tidende's newspaper of 16th November 2001 read, “Fine for Serious sex-terror” and “10,000 fine for 16 years of sex-terror”.
The Public Prosecutor in Norway was desperate to obtain the conviction in time for it to count against me in my own civil libel prosecution at the Drammen City Court and this purpose was achieved with consequent breach of Article 6 for the civil libel case.
5 . I was denied the right of proper cross-examination of defence witnesses at both first instance and Court of Appeal libel trials either through my lawyer or as a litigant in person, which thereby destroyed one of the primary purposes in bringing and progressing the action : the need to test the evidence. Moreover, at the Court of Appeal trial in October 2003 Judge Nilsen Jnr. refused to allow me to cross-examine Heidi Schøne at all and instead took on the responsibility himself and then for only 15-20 minutes.
This created a conflict of interest for the judge in his primary role as an impartial administrator of justice. He could not be both judge and prosecutor at the same time. I had waited eight long years to cross-examine Heidi Schøne and importantly it had been agreed several weeks earlier between myself and Heidi Schøne's lawyer that four hours would be set aside for this. No indications were given that Heidi Schøne was too ill or unwell to face cross-examination – not until the day of her appearance, when her lawyer submitted a letter from her psychiatrist, written the previous day, saying she was unfit to face cross-examination by me.
She was, however, fit enough to introduce entirely new allegations that were so ridiculous (for example that I used morphine obtained from my father, a general medical practitioner and that I blackmailed her), that when I pleaded with Judge Nilsen Jnr. for the opportunity to cross-examine Heidi Schøne on these matters he refused saying that I could comment in my closing speech at the end of the trial. My lawyer Stig Lunde told me weeks before that Heidi Schøne's psychiatrist, Dr. Petter Broch, was not at all happy at being subpoenaed by me to attend cross-examination as he was too busy. His presence was essential and it was of enormous disappointment to me when Judge Nilsen Jnr. prevented me from putting vital questions to Dr. Broch, in particular why he associated my right to present my side of the story to the public as “stalking” and “pathological” in nature. I could not even ask whether he thought his patient was capable of telling lies in view of the fact that he had himself, at the previous trial, sworn on oath that she sexualized her behaviour and had implicated all the members of her own family in mental abuse or in the case of her stepmother's father, sexual abuse. Indeed, Dr. Broch, at the previous trial confirmed that Heidi Schøne's stepmother had once reported her to the Child Protection Unit. [Heidi Schøne's psychiatrist, Dr. Petter Broch wrote a letter to the Court dated 13th October 2003 (copy enclosed with my Application) saying that Heidi Schøne should be excused from being cross-examined by me due to her “mental state”. This letter was handed to me by Heidi Schøne's lawyer in its original Norwegian language format at the start of the second day of the Court of Appeal trial ( 14th October 2003 ) and translated to me in its essential points by my interpreter, Kevin Quirk. The court accepted that Heidi Schøne should not face cross-examination and this destroyed the main highlight of my appeal: the absolute need to cross-examine Heidi Schøne. The submission of this letter so late – after the trial had in fact started – was unfair on me. Heidi Schøne should have been prevented from relying on it: it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage a fair trial. Heidi Schøne's lawyer had agreed weeks before with me on a full witness schedule for the trial allowing 4 hours for his client to face cross-examination by me. There was bound to be a degree of anxiety for Heidi Schøne (as there was for me) but she had had months to prepare herself for the trial. I suspect that she had feigned her complaint in order to get out of being cross-examined as she had tried via a similar letter from her psychiatrist at the first trial. Her mental state did not stop her from introducing for the first time further ludicrous allegations (see my account of the Court of Appeal trial submitted with my Application)].
Similarly, with the other defence witnesses, being: Hans Odde the editor of Drammens Tidende, Ingunn Røren the writer of the article and police sergeant Torill Sorte I was stopped by Judge Nilsen Jnr. from asking questions of these three in relation, specifically, to their own previous perjuries and in relation to Heidi Schøne's various perjuries and evidence. I was reprimanded by Judge Nilsen Jnr. for putting to Ingunn Røren and Torill Sorte that they were blatant liars and my respective requests that they explain themselves was interrupted and stopped by the judge - at the very point when each witness was on the verge of being caught out. I was denied my moment of vindication.
6 . The burden of proof was on Heidi Schøne to prove 16 years of sexual harassment from 1982 to 1998. This naturally implied 16 years of sustained action. For the years 1982 to 1985 Heidi Schøne was forced to concede there was no harassment due to my presentation to the court of her love letters to me for that period. One of these letters described my character as particularly honourable and as someone who did not treat her as a sex object. Yet remarkably, in 1995, I had for many years, according to Heidi Schøne, been the exact opposite in absolutely every aspect of my behaviour. Without her letters, which fortunately I had stored away at the time, I am sure Heidi Schøne would have continued to insist that the alleged harassment began in 1982 as this is precisely the claim she made in the May 1995 newspaper articles – that the harassment began the moment she left England in June 1982. At the time of the 1995 newspaper articles Heidi Schøne would not have suspected that I would have known of their publication or that I would have kept her early letters.
But what she did not count on was that, by coincidence, I was using at the time a Norwegian lawyer to make enquiries of the Norwegian police as to certain matters relating to Heidi Schøne. It was the lawyer who sent me one newspaper article and alerted me about the other two. Heidi Schøne admitted in court that she had been notified of the contents of the May 1995 articles (and 14 th July 1998 Drammens Tidende article) prior to their publication and had approved of the contents and corrected nothing. She had therefore adopted the wording as the truth. In saying this in court in January 2002 she thereby repeated and confirmed all of the contents of the 1995 newspaper articles and so I was doubly entitled to cross-examine Heidi Schøne on the 1995 articles.
For the period mid-1985 to mid-1995 there was no documentary evidence presented by Heidi Schøne as to harassment. Her evidence consisted solely of her uncorroborated word. Even then she admitted in court that in Summer 1988 she requested the urgent help of myself and my best friend, Russell, to travel to Norway to help restrain her abusive boyfriend, the father of her child. This, in spite of her making a false allegation to the police in December 1986, that I had attempted to rape her twenty months earlier in April 1985 (in revenge for my writing to her father two weeks earlier, in November 1986, warning him about his daughter's catastrophic lifestyle). This 1986 allegation was only made known to me in March 1995 by the Bergen lawyer I was using to make enquiries of the Bergen police, in my attempt to prosecute Heidi Schøne for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
In 1998 she changed the allegation to one of actual rape “by holding her down”! What girl would request the help of a man she had two years earlier reported to the police for attemped rape (later changed to actual rape)? Heidi Schøne admitted in court that she made a complaint to the Bergen police in the early 1980's about a Bergen shopkeeper who had allegedly raped her. No charges were brought. She also admitted receiving from me a music tape I had sent her in 1988 to console her after a second suicide attempt, on again being rejected by the father of her child. She admitted in court that in October 1990 she sent me a book (ordered from England ) in an attempt to convert me to Christianity after she had supposedly become a born-again Christian. This was a very friendly period for us. I had not kept the letters she sent me in1990. I had kept the book and put it in evidence.
For the period 1995 to 1998 the evidence used against me to prove harassment, consisted of my letters and campaign leaflets which formed the basis of my public protest (as is my right under Article 10) in response firstly, to my suspicion that Heidi Schøne had been making false allegations to the police, secondly when my suspicions were confirmed by my 1995 lawyers report to me and thirdly to outrageous 1995 newspaper allegations. Neither the police nor the newspapers nor the Press Complaints Commission (the PFU) took the slightest interest in responding to my written complaints. I even protested to the Norwegian Embassy in London in 1995 but all they could do was forward my papers on to the Bergen Police, who in spite of their apparent legal obligation to reply stayed silent.
The Court at first instance accepted that for long periods there was no contact between myself and Heidi Schøne. Indeed, from 1982 to 1991 she confided in me every intimate detail of her life which I gave in written evidence to the Court at first instance who certified my account as “more or less correct”.
The Court of Appeal somehow failed to appreciate my argument that Heidi Schøne could not have it both ways: confiding her innermost secrets over the best part of a decade was incompatible with her later (and constantly adapted) evidence of a decade and a half of sex-terror. The appeal judgement never explained this inconsistency (and many others) and the Supreme Court refused me leave to appeal. The Court of Appeal could not even tell me, when asked, how high the standard of proof had to be for one such as Heidi Schøne. I argued that for a woman with a delinquent past, a history of mental illness and obvious motives for revenge after having her own past exposed, then the standard of proof for her evidence ought to be a high one, especially as her own word formed the most part of her defence.
Heidi Schøne's description of her alleged torment at my hands had similarities to the description she gave me of the suffering she encountered, over the years, at the hands of Gudmund Johannessen, the father of her first son. He was an intravenous heroin user according to Heidi Schøne (they had two Aids tests each after the birth of their son), a felon (6 months in military prison in Norway) and was directly responsible for her two suicide attempts (in 1984 and 1988).
In Christmas 1990 he assaulted her and she reported him to the police. Heidi Schøne blamed me for this as I had earlier informed Gudmund Johannessen's parents of the enormous abuse he had inflicted on her, which so upset the parents and had consequently caused her “enormous problems”. Not least because Gudmund Johannessen felt betrayed by Heidi Schøne by her telling me of his despicable conduct, so he in turn took his frustrations out on her by beating her to the ground. Out of revenge, when I went to visit Heidi Schøne in February 1990, she told the police I had made threats against her and I was arrested, held for two nights in the cells, then released without charge. When things had blown over and I visited Heidi Schøne in August 1990 she apologised for the torment she had put me through and told me she had been “possessed by demons” which had now been “exorcised” by her Christian neighbours. Later in the day, paradoxically, she said that she was worried when I visited her in February that I might have kidnapped her son!
I was always intrigued as to exactly what Heidi Schøne had told the police in February 1990 to get me arrested. My curiosity came to the fore in early 1994 when I wrote to Heidi Schøne to enquire. I got no reply. Her silence I took as an admission of past duplicity, so I wrote a batch of postcards to her to express my feelings. Once I had, in March 1995, discovered her false December 1986 allegation of attempted rape, I felt such a sense of betrayal that I retaliated by informing her neighbours of her colourful past. In 1995 she was still adamant that it was attempted rape. I had from 1995 to 1998 been pressing her local police in Drammen to ask her about her 1986 attempted rape allegation, made to the Bergen police. Finally in the middle of 1998 she told the local Drammen police it was actual rape “by holding her down”. This disturbed me even more. Her newspaper allegation that I had threatened to kill her son incensed me. It is my public “information campaign” that the Norwegians regard as harassment. I regard it as a right under Article 10 provoked by Heidi Schøne and the newspapers.
7 . My public protest stopped from mid-1998 to October 2000 when it resumed with the launch of a website. The newspapers have their own websites and three of them still have their articles on me posted. My 2001 criminal conviction plus my website were used in evidence against me at the October 2003 Court of Appeal trial, even though my “campaign” evidence for this arose after the Drammens Tidende article of 14th July 1998 over which I was suing. This is a clear breach of Article 6.
8. Direct evidence was presented by me – including from Heidi Schøne's former best friend and two honorable policemen – indicating that Heidi Schøne was a liar. This evidence was completely ignored at every stage of the trial process and was not referred to in the court judgements.
9. In refusing me leave to appeal to them and without giving reasons the Supreme Court, by their judgement of 17th March 2004 , continued the breach of Article 6 initiated by the earlier judgements.
10. The dispute resolution procedure regarding my complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (the PFU) over the Drammens Tidende article of 14th July 1998 violated Article 6 because of the total absence of any form of public hearing or meaningful consultation: it was a secret decision making process (see the case of Wickramsinghe v. United Kingdom  EHRLR 338). In the circumstances I had a legitimate expectation to be consulted. The PFU refused to deal with any of my itemized complaints against the newspaper. In 1996 the PFU refused to exercise their discretion to look into my complaints against the three May 1995 newspaper articles giving no reasons. I was not told that the PFU could not look into the truth or falsehood of the statements made by Drammens Tidende in their 1998 article. On 24th August 1999 the PFU ruled that Drammens Tidende had not breached good press practice. I had been misled by the PFU and Drammens Tidende, for why else would I agree to use the PFU if not to have a proper investigation into the truth or falsehood of the newspaper's statements? The PFU are a body funded by the print industry in Norway and their chairman, Per Edgar Kokkvold, was a former newspaper editor.
The PFU ruling of 24th August 1999 was used in evidence against me in my action against Heidi Schøne. Subsequently, at the Court of Appeal trial in October 2003 cross-examination of the editor and journalist made it clear that their newspaper had lied and misled the public but by then Drammens Tidende were not on trial.
11. The dispute resolution procedure regarding the judicial inquiry into police sergeant Torill Sorte's perjury and attempt to pervert the course of justice was also in breach of Article 6 because of the total absence of any form of meaningful consultation, public hearing or even involvement of the suspect herself. The decision making process was completely secret. The Police Complaints Authority decided not to prosecute Torill Sorte and their decision was upheld by the Director of Public Prosecutions but at no stage was any of my evidence referred to in the official decisions, giving the impression that it was not even considered: a cover-up for a police officer who should have lost her job. No substantive reasons were given for not prosecuting Torill Sorte in the face of overwhelming evidence against her.
12. The defence lawyer for Heidi Schøne, Mr. Vegaard Aaløkken, withheld crucial evidence from me: his client's witness statement from 1998 that I raped her in 1985, apparently by holding her down. I wanted this direct evidence to see the detail of the alleged assault but its non-disclosure was justified by Mr. Aaløkken on the grounds that it “was not in his client's interest” to give it to me. Further, despite asking the Bergen police for nine years now I have not been sent Heidi Schøne's witness statement from December 1986 alleging attempted rape out of the same incident. I wanted to cross-examine Heidi Schøne on these conflicting statements to cast doubt on her credibility. In 2001 Drammens Tidende printed an article saying that I had allegedly raped Heidi Schøne. Without being able to test her evidence at any of the trials the court judgement at first instance ruled Heidi Schøne's testimony “in essence” to be true and this was upheld by the Court of Appeal. [The equality of arms argument will equally apply to my own libel prosecution trial. I had complained to the Norwegian Bar Association over Vegard Aaløkken's (Heidi Schøne's lawyer) failure to produce Heidi Schøne's 1986 and 1998 conflicting witness statements. My complaint was rejected on the grounds that Vegard Aaløkken was under a duty to protect his client's interests. A copy of the Bar Association's decision in 2004 has been submitted with my Application].
Vesta insurance company, acting for the lawyer Karsten Gjone who missed the time limits to sue the newspapers over their 1995 articles, refused to compensate me on the grounds that the Drammen City Court believed Heidi Schøne was telling the truth in the 1995 articles.
Violations of Article 10 – Freedom of Expression
1. Heidi Schøne had herself given interviews in May 1995, no doubt for money, to three newspapers: Verdens Gang which is Norway 's biggest tabloid, and Bergens Tidende and Drammens Tidende - provincial newspapers with large circulations. This because I had told a few of her neighbours of her colourful past in retaliation for her surreptitious attempt to ruin me through her false allegation of attempted rape. Large photographs were printed of Heidi Schøne and her husband (including on the front pages) and both of them were named and their home district given. The headlines were: “13 years of harassment” in Bergens Tidende of 24th May 1995, “13 years of Sex-terror” in Verdens Gang of 26th May 1995 and “Badgered and hunted for 13 years” in Drammens Tidende of 27th May 1995.
I was referred to among other things as “insane”, “mentally ill”, “suffering from erotic paranoia”, as one who had “threatened to kill her son” and also “threatened to kill her friends, family and neighbours”. Bergens Tidende called me “Muslim”sixteen times associating me with these medicalised and sexualized descriptions. Verdens Gang also associated my religion in the same context.
Heidi Schøne had thus waived her right to anonymity and forfeited her right to privacy for her own private life. She had opened herself up to public scrutiny in return.
I put my own side of the story over to the Norwegian public by way of a moderate publicity campaign when the three newspapers refused to print my response. Under their self-regulatory rules, the Norwegian press are obliged to contact the subject (or victim) of a proposed story and seek his views and moreover once a story has been printed they are obliged to contact the subject and print his response. Out of the six occasions when these three newspapers were obliged to make contact not one attempt was made, even though I was easy to find. So by way of a moderate fax and letter campaign including a life history of Heidi Schøne, I exercised my rights under Article 10 (see the case of Handyside v United Kingdom (1976) 1 EHRR 737 at para. 49). For this campaign from 1995 to 1998 I received a criminal conviction for invading Heidi Schøne's privacy which was used in evidence against me in my civil prosecution, again in breach of Article 10.
2. My continued exercise of my right to freedom of expression and public protest under Article10, in particular via my website set up in October 2000, was breached by my second criminal conviction on 17th October 2003 : a fine and a prison sentence of eight months, suspended for two years, provided I removed my website within 7 days. I did not remove the website. The Norwegian government want it closed down not least because they cannot tolerate the criticism leveled at their institutions on the website. Their criminal and economic crime unit, Økokrim, have threatened to contact the United Kingdom government to begin the process of closing it down. I pleaded guilty to the charge under Section 390(a) of the Criminal Code for promoting the website, under duress: I was given the choice of either pleading guilty to the charge and relying on the mercy of the court to give me a suspended sentence of imprisonment and a fine, or instead plead not guilty and face certain conviction and 8 months imprisonment as my offence was one of strict liability. This, after I had spent the previous 24 hours in police custody. Again no reasons were given by the police prosecutor as to why I was not charged under Section 390 of the Criminal Code which gave me a defence of justified public comment. Any appeal would have been a waste of time and the ECHR recognizes that hopeless cases do not have to be pursued. I cannot travel anywhere in Scandinavia due to the mutual enforcement law covering these countries, as the Norwegian authorities want to put me in prison.
[( i ) The Norwegian authorities incorrectly applied the Criminal Code in that they should have charged me, if at all, under Section 390 of the Criminal Code (as opposed to Section 390 (a) of the Criminal Code) which gave me a defence of justified public comment.
( ii ) The measures taken against me were not “necessary in a democratic society for the protection of health or morals”. How does my website and fax / letter campaign to the public offend against morality? On the contrary, my communications condemned and highlighted immorality.
( iii ) What “pressing social need” did the public authorities in Norway have in mind in wanting to prohibit me putting my side of the story across via faxes, letters and a website (see the case of the Sunday Times v. United Kingdom (1979) 2 EHRR 245)? The Norwegian Authorities gave themselves far too wide a margin of appreciation in prosecuting me: they wanted unlimited power of appreciation which they were not entitled to.
( iv ) If my information by fax / letter / website offended shocked and disturbed the Norwegian state or a sector of its population I submit that it does not matter, as such information is permitted by the ECHR in the interests of “pluralism, tolerance and broad mindedness” – see paragraph 49 of Handyside v. United Kingdom. My information in any case is as nothing compared to the vitriol written in the Norwegian newspapers (12 articles from 1995 to 2003) about me for which there was no substantive evidence. Besides which, the Drammen District Court, with Judge Anders Stilloff presiding held that my information on Heidi Schøne was “more or less correct”].
I also ask the European Court for compensation and costs under Article 41 for violation of Convention rights in relation to my prison sentence given in breach of Articles 6 and 10.
I have every right to continue my website, especially as Norway's top newspaper, Aftenposten did on the 15th April 2002 print a front page story with the headline, “British Muslim terrorizes Norwegian woman on the Internet”, with comment from the Norwegian Minister of Justice, Odd Einar Dørum and police sergeant Torill Sorte. I have written to the Minister who has so far sent me a letter of acknowledgement.
The Norwegian Courts must surely have been under some political pressure to ensure I failed, which caused the civil and criminal courts to violate Articles 6 and 10 in my respective trials in October 2003. Furthermore, Verdens Gang newspaper did another front page story on 7th July 1998 entitled, “Impossible to shake off sex-crazed Englishman”, referring to me as “half Arabic” and that I “may suffer from a case of extreme erotic paranoia”, repeating much of what they had printed in 1995. Twelve separate newspaper stories have been printed on me to my knowledge, from 1995 to 2003 including articles on how difficult it was for the Norwegian authorities to bring me to justice while I remained in England . This institutional and media campaign made it impossible for me to get justice in Norway .
Violations of Article 13 – Right to an effective remedy
1. The Supreme Court decision of 17th March 2004 refused me leave to appeal, giving no reasons. Under Norwegian law where an action involves a claim for an amount under 100,000 kroner, the Supreme Court are not required to give any reasons for refusing leave to appeal. In my original writ I had claimed 50,000 kroner against Heidi Schøne – a token sum because she was of very limited means – but more importantly I had asked for a declaration that her libelous statements be declared null and void. I had claimed 300,000 kroner against Drammens Tidende but they dropped out of the action when the Supreme Court refused me leave to appeal to them out of time, after my lawyer had narrowly missed the time limit. Even if my claim against Heidi Schøne had been for over 100,000 kroner the Supreme Court still do not have to give full reasoning for refusing leave to appeal. The main purpose of my writ and for my appeal to the Supreme Court was to clear my name. The Supreme Court has clearly demonstrated that there is no effective practical remedy in Norway to enable me to do this in the face of outrageous and ruinous allegations. Besides facing prison in Norway , I have to pay all Heidi Schøne's and the Norwegian state's legal costs as Heidi Schøne was legally aided.
2. Further, the remedy required by Article 13 applies not only to court proceedings but also to other enquiries: in my case the investigation by the Norwegian Press Complaints Commission (PFU) after my complaint to them over the Drammens Tidende article of 14th July 1998 and the Police Complaints Authority enquiry into the perjury and attempt to pervert the course of justice by police sergeant Torill Sorte. Both of these enquiries lacked all credibility. There was no effective access for me to the investigatory procedure. The standard of investigation was abysmal. The decision given by the PFU in 1999 and the decision given in 2003 by the Director of Public Prosecutions (to whom I had appealed from the Police Complaints Authority) indicated respectively, that all my evidence was ignored in the investigatory process and not even referred to in their decision letters. They both gave substantially inadequate reasons for their decisions. The Director of Public Prosecutions had a conflict of interest, in that they were the body ultimately responsible for twice charging me under Section 390(a) of the Criminal Code (November 2001 and October 2003), for exercising my right to reply.
For years before this the Director of Public Prosecutions was trying to extradite me but were told by the British authorities that there were no grounds to do this. Again, the PFU and the Police Complaints Authority demonstrated that in practice they provided no effective remedy for my complaints to them.
Violation of Article 14 – Prohibition of Discrimination
The Drammen City Court verdict of 11th February 2002 found nothing wrong in the Drammens Tidende article of 14th July 1998 calling me “the Muslim man” in the first line of their report, followed by character assassination. The judgement declared that I had “represented” myself as a Muslim because of my documented support for the Muslims of Bosnia. The Bosnia tragedy, however, was never mentioned by the Drammens Tidende article as the reason for calling me Muslim. The article only associated the words “Muslim man” with my alleged sexual harassment, mental illness and erotic paranoia. The Drammens Tidende article of 14th July 1998 must be read in conjunction with the mindset of the Norwegian press as a whole. The 24th May 1995 Bergens Tidende article made mention of me as “Muslim”sixteen times associating me with mental illness, sexual harassment and erotic paranoia. The Verdens Gang article dated 26th May 1995 associated the words “Muslim man” with erotic paranoia and sex terror. They did a repeat article in July 1998 and associated the words “half Arabic” man with “sex crazed” and “erotic paranoia”. The Aftenposten newspaper of 15th April 2002 had the front page headline: “British Muslim terrorizes Norwegian woman on the Internet”. The journalist who wrote the article told me in my earlier tape recorded conversation of 10th April 2002 that she did not even know I was a Muslim and that my religion was irrelevant! Runar Schøne, the ex-husband of Heidi Schøne, giving evidence in court in January 2002 compared me with Osama bin Laden and my lawyer, Stig Lunde, who was present will confirm this.
The expert witness Mr. Henrik Lund of the Anti-racist Centre in Oslo gave evidence at the Court of Appeal trial in October 2003. He said that no newspaper in Norway would write similarly if the subject was Christian or Jewish so that to do so when the subject was Muslim can be seen as an attack on the Muslim religion. The Court of Appeal in its judgement of 14th November 2003 , made no comment at all on Henrik Lund's evidence. For the Drammen City Court and then the Court of Appeal not to acknowledge such blatant religious vilification is clearly a breach of Article 14 and can be said to have contributed in turn to a breach of Article 6. [Heidi Schøne referred to me as a Muslim fanatic and extremist as follows:-
( i ) In her police witness statement of 1st December 1986 that I was a “Shia Muslim” when in fact I am a Sunni. Shia Islam, which Heidi Schøne wanted to associate me with, has particularly dark overtones in Norway arising out of that country's intense antipathy to the Iran of Ayotallah Khomeni. For many years therefore the Norwegian police presumably believed I was a Shia Muslim follower of Ayotallah Khomeni. Heidi Schøne knew perfectly well all along that I was not a Shia Muslim.
( ii ) At the Court of Appeal trial in October 2003, for the first time Heidi Schøne alleged (falsely) that I believed in stoning women to death. I believe passionately that stoning women to death has no part whatsoever in true Islam.
( iii ) In the first trial in January 2002 Heidi Schøne had (falsely) alleged that I had been coercing her into becoming a Muslim. Heidi Schøne's true feelings for Islam were shown in her 1982 letter to me (enclosed with my Application) when after having a lesson at school on Islam she wrote, “Islam – NO NO”, at a time when we had very friendly relations.
The Norwegian courts gave the impression of accepting as reasonable the use by the newspapers of the word “Muslim” in the context in which it was used – not just in the Drammens Tidende article of 14th July 1998 which I was suing on, but also in the earlier 1995 newspaper articles which were inextricably linked to the 14th July 1998 article in Drammens Tidende. The three 1995 articles were put in evidence at the outset of the proceedings.
The Norwegian courts gave the impression of accepting as true Heidi Schøne's ‘evidence' on my Islamic credentials for they made no comment in their judgments to suggest otherwise despite my requests for them to do so. The courts were therefore not impartial from either a subjective or objective point of view. I concluded that I was being tried by a religiously/racially prejudiced court in violation of Article 6 (1) – see by analogy the case of Sander v. United Kingdom (2001) 31 EHRR 14, where in my case the Norwegian judges should have reacted in an appropriate manner to dispel the perverted way the press and Heidi Schøne described my Muslim credentials. In Sander v. United Kingdom the ECHR stressed that the eradication of racism has become a common priority goal for all contracting states. France has taken the lead in this respect by repeatedly fining Bridgette Bardot for “incitement to racial hatred” for her written descriptions of Muslims (see the article enclosed with my Application from ‘The Independent' newspaper of 11th June 2004 ).
I believe the only reason I ever made the Norwegian newspapers was because I am a Muslim. The huge number of times that I have been referred to as a “Muslim” in the Norwegian newspapers from 1995 to 2003 is ample evidence to justify my claim. Article 14 has certainly been violated].
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