By James Tozer
(U.K., 2010) Martin Frostick is alleged to have sent out faxes falsely claiming the estate agent had gone bust
A gazumped homeowner took drastic revenge by launching a smear campaign to try to drive the estate agency he blamed out of business, a court heard today.
Martin Frostick, 53, was so aggrieved at losing the house that he circulated bogus bankruptcy petitions falsely claiming the Ryder & Dutton chain was going bust, it was alleged.
As a result, the agency was 'deluged' with inquires from clients worried about its financial state, the court heard.
It had to issue urgent public statements dismissing the notices as a 'malicious rumour' to save its reputation from being fatally damaged, it was claimed.
Frostick allegedly walked into a branch of the agency - based in Oldham, Greater Manchester - last June demanding information about a house sale back in 1997.
The complaint related to a house he had owned which had been repossessed, and he had later been gazumped in a sale, the court was told.
Staff said they didn't keep records that far back and Frostick left, slamming the door.
The following day he sent an email to Richard Powell, one of the directors, said Roderick Priestley, prosecuting at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.
'It was some sort of grievance the defendant had with the firm over a repossession of a house which Mr Frostick owned in Oldham. He seemed to have been gazumped in a sale.'
Mr Powell then received 'abusive and threatening' faxes followed by a document purporting be a petition regarding the winding up of Ryder & Dutton, the court heard.
Mr Priestley said the notice was a fictitious one drawn up by Frostick. 'It was made by the defendant to damage the company,' he added.
The firm called the police after receiving a further email from Frostick containing 31 pages of names and numbers of companies to which he allegedly planned to send the fax.
Ryder & Dutton estate agents in Royton near Oldham
In addition, Frostick allegedly circulated a copy of an article from the London Gazette - which carries insolvency notices - altered to suggest Ryder & Dutton had gone bust.
He is also accused of sending a newspaper article about the collapse of Northern Rock which had been manipulated to carry the firm's name instead.
'The firm was deluged with enquires about the financial health of the company,' Mr Priestley said.
One leasing firm actually terminating a contract as a result of the rumours.
'What this man did caused significant inconvenience, stress and time,' Mr Priestley told the jury.
'So in order to protect their reputation they issued an urgent statement where they made it very clear that this was a dishonest and malicious rumour.
'What is clear is that Mr Frostick perceives that he has been wronged and 11 years later has decided to proceed with a complaint.
'But he, in effect, says because they wouldn't respond successfully to him, he then embarked upon this campaign.'
Frostick of Delph, near Oldham, was arrested two weeks later. Told about the cancelling of the lease agreement, he allegedly retorted: 'Good, I'm delighted.'
The trial heard Frostick admits coming up with the idea but denies fraud by making false representations.
Someone can only be DEFAMED if what you are saying about them is FALSE, NOT FULLY VERIFIABLE, ASSUMED FROM SCANT INFORMATION or UNTRUE.
If it IS TRUE - it is not: defamation, slander and/or libel. And you'd best be able to PROVE IN A COURT OF LAW that it is true. (Information that might possibly indicate something or you are assuming it indicates something is usually non-admissible.)
EOPC is held legally harmless - all claims of posted misinformation must be pursued THROUGH THE PERSON THAT SIGNED THE RELEASE TO US AND SUBMITTED IT IN THEIR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.