Page last updated at 20:33 GMT, Monday, 15 June 2009 21:33 UK

Flowerbed woman marked 'violent'

A woman labelled "potentially violent" after she complained to a Berkshire council about a vandalised flowerbed is suing the authority for libel.

The High Court heard Jane Clift, 43, of Birmingham, contacted Slough Borough Council in 2005 after witnessing a boy misbehaving in the town's Rest Gardens.

Ms Clift became angry when she felt her report was dismissed. She was told her behaviour would be marked as "violent".

The council denies libel, claiming justification and qualified privilege.

Ms Clift told the jury that the child was uprooting plants, pulling the heads off flowers and "squashing everything".

She said: "I noted there were adults in the park but no-one seemed to be supervising him."

She approached five adults on a bench but when one of the men became abusive she called the police, who advised her to contact the council.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, for Ms Clift, said the authority's anti-social behaviour co-ordinator Fozia Rashid was "very dismissive" and said criminal damage was a matter for the police.

'Drop down dead'

He said Ms Clift was told that she had been provocative and should have left the area.

"Jane Clift was very shocked at being accused of being the source of the problem," Mr Tomlinson said.

She was "understandably furious, frustrated and angry".

When she complained about Ms Rashid's attitude, she said that as far as she was concerned Ms Rashid could "drop down dead" and followed the matter up with a letter.

Ms Clift wrote: "I felt so affronted and so filled with anger that I am certain I would have physically attacked her if she had been anywhere near me.

"I truly am not of that nature and so, surely, this should act as a wake up call to the borough as to the capacity she has for offending people."

Patrick Kelleher, the council's head of public protection, then told Ms Clift that a marker would be placed against her name for 18 months as a result of her allegedly "violent and threatening behaviour".

Ms Clift brought her claim against the council and Mr Kelleher on the basis that she was libelled by the entry of her name on the council's Violent Persons Register and by an email sent to a large number of people informing them of this.



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