Cornish autism charity, Spectrum, could face £250,000 legal bill
A CORNISH autism charity which was found to have harassed former employees who set up a rival firm are facing hefty legal costs.
It follows a two-year legal battle between Spectrum, which runs 23 specialist homes across Cornwall, and Green Light PBS Ltd, set up by former employees of Spectrum in 2009.
In September Spectrum withdrew its appeal against the finding of a county court judgement in favour of Green Light.
In the proceedings, Spectrum wrongly alleged that Green Light, and three of its management team, had used Spectrum's confidential information.
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In striking out the proceedings in September 2012 at the Patents County Court, in London, Recorder Douglas Campbell found that Spectrum's claims had "abused the court's process" and had "no real prospect of success".
The court also found that the purpose of the litigation was harassment of competitors and former employees, rather than the protection of the claimant's rights.
Mr Campbell also came to the conclusion that the allegations, which included claims that there was a conspiracy between Green Light and Cornwall Council, were no more than unsupported speculation.
Spectrum had lodged several appeals against the ruling, two of which were dismissed by the court, with the firm withdrawing a third in September this year.
Now Spectrum are facing a hefty bill to cover the rival firm's legal costs, Green Light.
In a statement Jo Pyrah, who co-founded Green Light, said: "We are pleased that the original judgment in its favour stands firm. As Spectrum have been ordered by the court to pay all of our proceedings costs on the full indemnity basis. The costs incurred by the charity of these proceedings are estimated to exceed a quarter of a million pounds."
He said Spectrum have agreed to make an interim payment of £40,000 for Green Light's legal costs.
He said it was now considering its own legal action by suing Spectrum for damages incurred as a result of the lengthy court battle.
It is also making a complaint to the Charity Commission about Spectrum's alleged "waste of charitable resources".
In a statement Spectrum told the West Briton that it accepted the court's decision.