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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Protestor who accused social services of ‘child cruelty’ ordered to pay council £15,000

A protestor who accused social services of ‘child cruelty’ has been ordered to pay the council £15k.

Orangzabe Latif has made a number of allegations against Middlesbrough Council. He has been driving around in a van that has stickers accusing those in social services of being liars, criminals and storytellers and of ‘child cruelty in broad daylight’

In a video he posted online, directed at those working in social services, he said: “I am coming for you directly and if you leave the department it does not mean anything”.

He went on to say he was ‘coming to take out the trash’ and ‘bringing the whole demonstration outside your doors’, while the ‘destruction of your homes’ would be legalised.

At a previous hearing, Judge Mark Gargan, said any reasonable person would consider Mr Latif’s comments to be threats capable of causing alarm or distress and describing them as ‘oppressive and unacceptable’.

The judge added: “I see no reason why social workers should have to put up with quite wrong allegations asserting that all of them are liars to everyone about everything.”

Judge Gargan said Mr Latif believed his actions were helping to prevent and detect crime, but the police had found no evidence to back his claims. Speaking after his hearing at the start of June, the protestor said his campaign was about safeguarding and public interest and ‘people need to know about what is going on’.

Now, Middlesbrough Council has secured a three-year anti-social behaviour order against Mr Latif at Teesside County Court. The protestor, who said he received benefits, who will also need to cover the local authority’s court costs, which have amounted to £15,592.

On 2 June, Judge Gargan ordered Mr Latif to remove the stickers on his van by 16 June and take down specific videos from media platforms he controls. As he has not done this yet, he has been given an extension until Friday, 23 June.

As part of the new order, Mr Latif is not allowed to publicly make allegations that the council – or its employees or members – are liars, criminals, storytellers, guilty of child cruelty or controlling the courts and the police. This includes via verbal statements, placards, signs on vehicles, leaflets and documents shared online.

Mr Latif is also not allowed to make these allegations outside the homes of council employees or members and is banned from making threats, whether physical or verbal, against council employees or members and their property.

If Mr Latif believes on ‘rational ground’ that the council is guilty of the conduct he alleges, but he is restricted by the order, then he can present his allegations to the local authority with evidence.

It will then have 28 days to respond, if it agrees that the comments are being made on ‘rational grounds’ then Mr Latif will not be restricted by the order – however, he will not be protected against potential defamation proceedings.

If the council does not believe there are ‘rational ground’ then Mr Latif can either accept this, and still be constrained by the order, or he can reject this and the council will need to apply to the court to stop this view from being published.

Mr Latif told the court that he was happy with this outcome as it would allow him to raise his concerns with the council and it would have to respond.

The council’s solicitor Andrew Perriman was worried that Mr Latif would use this to try and resurface ‘long-dead allegations’.

He added: “My concern is that we become inundated with a number of cases he believes have rational grounds and we will be back and forth to court.”

However, Judge Gargan warned Mr Latif that it could become a very expensive process and the order could be amended to limit what he can say in the future if he abuses the process to raise allegations.

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