Taunton Deane Cllr Ian Morrell 'to sue' after winning appeal against restraining order

Somerset County Gazette: Ian Morrell. Ian Morrell.

A COUNCILLOR turned DIY lawyer to overturn a court ruling professional barristers tried to enforce.

Ian Morrell decided to put his own case to a judge after claiming magistrates wrongly imposed a restraining order on him.

A solicitor, who quoted a four-figure sum to represent Mr Morrell, advised him to accept the punishment.

But, determined to clear his name, he spent hours researching the law and won his appeal at Taunton Crown Court on Friday.

Mr Morrell, 36, of Bath Place, Taunton, says the experience has damaged his character and his standing as a member of Taunton Deane Council so he now plans to sue the police for “wrongful arrest” and the Crown Prosecution Service, who he claims should never have brought the case.

Despite the CPS not producing any evidence, magistrates in February gave him an ultimatum to accept a 12-month restraining order banning him from contacting an ex-girlfriend or face trial.

Mr Morrell, who denied allegations of harassing her via text, says he felt forced to accept the order even though the court refused to hear his statement, which he believed would have cleared him.

His appeal was allowed after the CPS dropped the case, again without producing any evidence, midway through Friday’s hearing.

Mr Morrell said: “I’ve suffered injustice for eight months but am pleased to be vindicated.

“Although I accept mistakes are made and the police and CPS have targets to meet, they must consider their duty in upholding the law before invoking it on another person.

“So others hopefully don’t have to suffer like me, my concerns will be relayed to the Attorney-General and the Police and Crime Commissioner."

Chief Inspector Lisa Simpson, from Avon and Somerset Police, said officers ensure there are sufficient grounds before arresting anyone.

She added: “We haven’t received any complaint or further correspondence about this arrest or the wider investigation.

“However, we’re always disappointed to hear about people who are unhappy regarding the way in which they may have been treated.

“We’d encourage anyone who feels we could have done better to write and tell us about it so that our professional standards department can look into it."

CPS senior Crown prosecutor Christine Hart said she decided there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution was in the public interest.

She said she offered Mr Morrell a restraining order at the magistrates’ court, pointing out that he could only make representations “as to the necessity of any such order” at a full hearing.

She added: “Mr Morrell did consent unequivocally to the order which the bench then considered and deemed necessary. Mr Morrell subsequently appealed. All standard processes and procedures were followed throughout the case.”

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