Tariq Siddiqi v John Aidiniantz

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMr Justice Warby
Judgment Date24 May 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] EWHC 1321 (QB)
CourtQueen's Bench Division
Docket NumberCase No: QB-2019-000097
Date24 May 2019

[2019] EWHC 1321 (QB)




Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL



Case No: QB-2019-000097

Tariq Siddiqi
(1) John Aidiniantz
(2) Andrea von Ehrenstein
(3) The Sherlock Holmes Museum Limited
(4) Rollerteam Limited
(5) Sherlock Holmes Limited

The Claimant in person

Kate Wilson (instructed by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP) for the Defendants

Hearing date: 16 May 2019

Judgment Approved

Mr Justice Warby

Introduction: the dispute and the parties


This action is a spin-off of a long-running and undoubtedly bitter dispute over a family business, the Sherlock Holmes museum in Baker Street, London.


Those interested in that dispute can read more in the judgment of Robert Engelhart QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, in Rollerteam Ltd v Riley [2015] EWHC 1545 (Ch) (affd [2016] EWCA Civ 1291). That was a case about whether four pieces of litigation had been effectively compromised.


This is an action for damages and an injunction brought by a supporter and adviser of one family faction, against the head of another faction, his wife, and associates of his. The claimant complains that since 2012 he and his family have been the targets and victims of the publication of derogatory, confidential and/or private information, on a website bearing the claimant's name, and in correspondence.


The claimant, who has represented himself at this hearing, with help from his wife and a friend, describes himself as a successful business entrepreneur who has been involved with many business enterprises. It is clear that one aspect of his business activities has been in property development. The first defendant describes himself as a retired businessman who founded the Sherlock Holmes museum and managed it until January 2014.


The claimant and the first defendant appear to have known one another for quite a few years, and it is common ground that they had some business discussions at some stage, and that relations were cordial enough at that time. It is also common ground that the relationship has soured. Exactly when and why that happened is in dispute, but I cannot resolve the disagreement at this stage of this case, when I am dealing with interim applications.


This much is clear. From some time in or around 2012 the claimant became an ally or associate of the claimant's mother, Grace Riley. He came to allege that the first defendant had wrongfully excluded his mother and other family members from control of the family business, taking control of the shares and the entrance revenue. The claimant now alleges, and has for some time been asserting, that the first defendant at various times and in various ways fraudulently transferred the shares and revenue, so as to dispossess and deprive his mother and siblings of the family business.


For his part, since about October 2012 the first defendant has been publishing material online, at a website initially located at www.tariq-siddiqi.com, to which the claimant and his family take strong objection. The existence of the website seems to have been announced to the claimant by an email of 27 October 2012. The claimant has said of the website that it “bitterly, all of a sudden, accused and depicted the claimant of being a fraudster who was trying to defraud Grace Riley, …”. Over the years, at different times, the claimant has formulated a number of other complaints about the contents of the website. His complaints have stepped up over the last year, and ultimately led to this High Court action, which was started in January 2019.


The second defendant is the wife of the first defendant. They married in recent years, having met in the early 2010s, it appears. The fourth defendant is a company owned by the second defendant. The fourth defendant owns the premises of the Sherlock Holmes museum. The third and fifth defendants are companies which are said by the defendants to be dormant.


The Claim Form, issued on 10 January 2019, and Particulars of Claim filed on 16 January 2019, set out details of a claim against all five of these defendants. The pleaded claim is for £4,149,911.84 by way of damages and interest thereon. The statements of case allege injury to reputation and consequential financial loss resulting from what the Claim Form describes as a “course of criminal conduct”. The claimant alleges offences of blackmail contrary to s 21 of the Theft Act 1968, and harassment contrary to s 1(1A) and (3) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and he alleges libel causing serious harm to reputation, citing ss 1(1) and 5 of the Defamation Act 2013.

Applications and Issues


The defendants now apply, by notice dated 12 April 2019, for orders striking out the claims and entering summary judgment in favour of the second to fifth defendants. The claimant has responded by indicating that he now wishes to abandon the original Claim Form and Particulars of Claim, and to substitute entirely new wording by amendment. His draft amendments would drop the claims for blackmail and defamation. They would retain the claim in harassment. But they would add further causes of action. The draft Amended Claim identifies five causes of action, as follows (except that I have added the numbering in square brackets):

“The Claimant claims damages for [1] conspiracy to injure by unlawful means and/or [2] wrongful interference and/or [3] breach of confidence and/or [4] harassment and/or [5] interference with his Article 8 rights by (i) the creation of websites in his name and without his consent namely [ Web addresses specified] and the use of them to publish and promote false derogatory and damaging allegations of him and his family (ii) the publication of false derogatory and damaging allegations of him and his family both online and to third parties and (iii) the publication of private and confidential information relating to him and his family.”


The Amended Particulars of Claim (“APoC”) are concise, at 15 pages long, but they are accompanied by 59 pages of Schedules and chronology, bringing the total length of the document and its appendices to 74 pages. That is not the end of it, however, because the Schedules contain references to other documents, attached, and to exhibits, which are far more voluminous. Schedule 4, for instance, “includes” three documents. One is the chronology. The second is the Claimant's Initial Notice of Complaint and Notice to Admit facts dated 12 October 2018, of 18 pages. The third is the claimant's “Full and Final” Notice of Complaint dated 1 November 2018, of 37 pages.


The claimant's application for permission to amend his statements of case is the subject of an application notice dated 10 May 2019, but filed on Monday 13 May 2019. When served, it was accompanied by a raft of witness statements. All of this was less than 3 clear days before this hearing, so the claimant's amendment application was late, and he required an order abridging time for service. But that was not opposed, and I granted it.


At the same time, the claimant also seeks at this hearing the following orders, for which he had applied at an earlier stage:-

(1) an injunction restraining further publication (application notices of 30 January 2019 and 4 April 2019); and

(2) an order for the defendants to give disclosure of information and/or documents (application notice of 4 April 2019).


The defendants' position is as follows:-

(1) the existing Particulars of Claim should be struck out with costs, as the claimant has in effect conceded the defendants' application to that extent;

(2) permission to amend should be refused;

(3) I should enter summary judgment for the second to fifth defendants against the claimant;

(4) the injunction application should be refused, and the disclosure application dismissed.


The defendants must be right in their first contention. Save in exceptional circumstances, which are not to be found in this case, a party who brings and then abandons a claim will inevitably be required to pay the costs of and caused or thrown away by doing so. But the main business at this hearing has concerned the amendment and summary judgment applications, and the question of whether an injunction should be granted.

Evidence and submissions


I have voluminous documentation before me, consisting in the end of no fewer than seven lever arch files of statements of case and evidence; the claimant has prepared two of his own bundles, and the defendants have prepared five more. The bundles are all very well prepared, but their content overlaps to some degree. There is a further lever arch file of authorities.


The material that was served late included Mr Siddiqi's skeleton argument, which was not lodged with the Court until 4.30pm the day before the hearing. It had a list of suggested pre-reading, the time estimate for which was 2 1/2 hours. This was if anything an under-estimate. This was less than helpful, but it has been possible to deal with all the matters in issue in the course of a single day's hearing.


I have so far avoided investigation of how this excessive volume of paper came to be put before the Court, and why some of it was filed so late. That may be necessary when it comes to costs.

Open justice


Among the documents exhibited by the claimant were two emails which I was asked to and did direct should be withheld from the public. I made an associated reporting restriction order under s 11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, and an order restricting access to the Court file under CPR 5.4C. These were orders sought by the defendants' application notice of 12 April 2019. They were not opposed by Mr Siddiqi, though he did not consent to them. I directed that the material be withheld in the exercise of the...

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2 cases
  • Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn v HM Juan Carlos Alfonso
    • United Kingdom
    • King's Bench Division
    • 6 October 2023
    ...caused those losses. (See Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust v Shaikh [2014] EWHC 2857 QB at [10]–[12]; Siddiqui v Aidiniantz [2019] EWHC 1321 (QB) per Warby J at [78] and 296 The Claimant in this case wishes to amend her claim to bring the total of the damages she claims to a sum in ex......
  • Tariq Siddiqi v John Aidiniantz & Others
    • United Kingdom
    • Queen's Bench Division
    • 24 February 2020
    ...application was heard by Warby J and was the subject of a detailed judgment dated 24 May 2019: see Siddiqi v Aidiniantz & Ors [2019] EWHC 1321 (QB). 4 Warby J's judgment provides a comprehensive description of the nature and identity of the parties, the underlying dispute and the claims th......

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