Bizarre political libel case and the Wirral Conservatives
Today we reported the collapse of one of the bizarrest political libel cases in a long time.
Bahram Noorani, a Greasby-based Iranian Conservative, had tried to sue Dick Calver, the former chairman of Wirral West Conservative Association for an email sent by Mr Calver to up to 30 members of the local party's executive committee which was allegedly libellous.
It supposedly implied Mr Noorani made a series of nuisance silent phone calls and instigated other, more sinister, malicious calls to Mr Calver. The speaker - later revealed to be a 16-year-old boy - said he was an "acid expert from Widnes" who was going to visit Mr Calver's home to test the effects of acid on his wife's face.
It was also alleged the Mr Calver bumped into Mr Noorani's wife and daughter and labelled him an "Islamic terrorist".
This claim was thrown out on the first day, when I was covering the case, by the High Court Judge, but couldn't be reported because the jury weren't present at the time.
Here is the first story, when we first discovered the case back in January.
Here is the report from the proceedings of the first day of the trial.
And here is the day the trial collapsed.
The embarrassing climb down for Mr Noorani is likely to be the least of his worries now that he's facing the possibility of paying ÃÂ£100,000 in costs.
And quite apart from that, the case has been a PR disaster for his solicitors Kirwans. A few months ago the firm launched a political libel unit, and many councillors were sent information material about the unit.
This case was the first major outing for the unit, and it could hardly have gone any worse.
It's often said that litigation is the most expensive way of making a point.
The case also exposed that the Wirral West constituency, which will a crucial marginal in the next General Election, had become a "hotbed of infighting". In fact the case was a direct result of that infighting.
On the first day of the trial former Wirral councillor Ian McKellar turned up to give evidence on Mr Noorani's behalf. When questioned why he had to give his evidence on the first day of the trial he said he couldn't be there the next day because he would be back in court the day after because of personal "criminal matter".
"It's not a dishonesty offence," he told the court. It turned out that the following day he would be pleading guilty to making indecent images after being caught down-loading more than 1,800 obscene pictures of children.
Like I said before this was a very bizarre case.