Rio Ferdinand 'stalker' in litigation ban after issuing 24 libel claims against the media - Press Gazette

Rio Ferdinand 'stalker' in litigation ban after issuing 24 libel claims against the media

Former footballer Rio Ferdinand's "stalker" has been banned from issuing libel claims over reports of her conviction.

Susanne Ibru was not at London's High Court on Monday when Mr Justice Ouseley imposed the extended civil restraint order (ECRO), which will last two years but can be renewed.

Counsel Aidan Eardley, representing various media groups facing 20 actions brought by Ibru, said that she appeared to have a lengthy history of mental illness and her April 2011 conviction for harassing Ferdinand seemed to rankle with her still.

"Material about it – whether published by these applicants or others – is likely to remain available online. In those circumstances, there is a real likelihood that she will issue similar claims against these applicants or other media publishers if not restrained."

Between December 2014 and May 2015, Ibru issued 24 libel claims, complaining about the way the conviction was reported and the use of the words "stalker" or "stalking".

In November last year, senior High Court official Master McCloud struck out 18 of the claims as being totally without merit, and a number of others have also been struck out or withdrawn.

Master McCloud said that articles using terms such as "stalker" in the context of reporting the proceedings against Ibru or the facts which led to her conviction were bound to be protected by absolute privilege or justification.

Eardley said that Ibru's persistent claims had caused significant public expense as well as running up costs for the organisations concerned.

Mr Justice Ouseley said it was clear that Ibru regarded the language used by the media to describe what she had done as seriously damaging to her personal and intended business life to the extent that she had sought damages running into "hundreds of millions of pounds".

"When a person has issued this number of actions in relation to wholly unmeritorious claims, in my judgment the requirements of an ECRO are fully satisfied."

It was also entirely appropriate given the obsessive nature of the litigation, Ibru's refusal to accept the advice or instruction of the court and the prospect of it continuing.