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Sheffield Landlord wins harassment and defamation case

A Sheffield landlord, Mrs Zobia Rafique, has settled her legal case for harassment, defamation and breach of data rights against pressure group The Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now (ACORN).

What was initially a low level disagreement with a tenant, Ms Aya Hoez, over the return of a £300 deposit, turned into a campaign of harassment by ACORN against Mrs Rafique after the tenant, an ACORN member, got the pressure group involved.

The campaign against Mrs Rafique by ACORN members included marching, filming, and engaging in confrontation with Mrs Rafique at her home, holding placards bearing defamatory statements, blogging and posting abusive statements on social media, threatening Mrs Rafique using a loud hailer, approaching and abusing Mrs Rafique, and holding a “public meeting” about Mrs Rafique outside Sheffield Town Hall.

Mrs Rafique and her business Century One Estates were forced to issue legal proceedings against ACORN and Ms Hoez.  Mrs Rafique and Century One Estates settled their claim against ACORN.  Mrs Rafique was forced to obtain an injunction and other orders against Ms Hoez.

As part of the settlement, Acorn has paid a substantial amount in costs and damages to Mrs Rafique and Century One Estates, in addition to issuing two written apologies and providing an agreement to never repeat the conduct again.

Century One Estates in Sheffield is a local business that has served the Sheffield community for 12 years and specialises in renting rooms across the city.

Mrs Zobia Rafique said: “The last two years have been unbearable and frightening. I’m relieved and pleased the case has been resolved in my favour and now the harassment will stop. I also wanted to prevent this from happening to other business owners.”

A spokesman for JMW Solicitors, said: “We are delighted to have successfully acted for Mrs Rafique in this case and to have brought it to a close in her favour and century One’s favour. Unfortunately, despite being in the wrong in their allegations against Mrs Rafique, the tenant and Acorn embarked upon a campaign of harassment against her. Clearly, there is a place for legal and legitimate campaigning, but the tenant’s and Acorn’s conduct seriously crossed the line.”

JMW’s Media and Communications Law team specialises in helping clients to protect their reputation, privacy, and confidential information.

JMW Solicitors is ranked 70 in The Lawyer’s “UK 200: The Top 100” for 2021, moving up four places. The listing confirms that JMW posted the largest organic growth in the 51-100 tier, increasing revenues from £47.6m in 2020 to £53.2m this year, a 12% increase.

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