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Pub Landlord Wins Huge Settlement After Being Wrongly Jailed And Put In Cell Next To Ian Huntley

Anish Vij

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Pub Landlord Wins Huge Settlement After Being Wrongly Jailed And Put In Cell Next To Ian Huntley

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

A pub landlord who 'lost everything' after being wrongly jailed over an alleged 'vendetta' by a council boss is set to be paid a huge sum in damages.

In 2003, Geoff Monks was jailed because he was unable to pay a food safety fine for offences at The Snooty Fox in Lowick, Northamptonshire.

He spent two months in the high security HMP Woodhill prison in a cell next to Soham murderer Ian Huntley.

Although the 67-year-old's conviction was later overturned, he lost his pubs, his house and suffered a heart attack while in prison.

Geoff Monks pictured in 1997. Credit: SWNS
Geoff Monks pictured in 1997. Credit: SWNS

Dr Monks claimed the local council had pursued a 'vendetta' against him following a food safety allegation which stemmed from the false claim that 'mouldy ham' was found inside the premises in 1999.

He argued the 'vendetta' began after he offended local solicitor Jenny Lawrence, who he alleged was in a sexual relationship with then-Chief Executive of the council Roger Heath, although both Lawrence and Heath deny they were having an affair, as per the Daily Mail.

Dr Monks was hit with the-then largest fine on record for six alleged food safety offences - £25,500 plus legal costs of £8,300. He was unable to pay the fine and was jailed in 2003.

His legal team argued the evidence for the hygiene offences was 'thin and contradictory', and they were overturned 15 years later.

The authority has now reportedly agreed a seven figure settlement with Dr Monks, understood to be around £4 million, however, this is yet to be confirmed.

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

Geraint Thomas, partner and head of the disputes team at Laytons ETL Global which represented Dr Monks, said: “This settlement finally provides full vindication for our client more than 20 years after East Northamptonshire Council began its abusive campaign against him. 

"The impact on his health, finances and wellbeing has been nothing short of devastating, but I hope that today’s settlement will enable him at least to begin to rebuild his life."

Dr Monks' barrister Paul Mitchell QC said: "Dr Monks’ claim against the now-defunct East Northamptonshire Council was not a case of extortion, but one either of vendetta or of capricious indifference to the council’s own policy governing when it was to prosecute Food Safety Act offences. 

"Dr Monks was a publican, prosecuted three times by ENC for alleged food hygiene offences.

"The evidence against him on each occasion was thin and contradictory. 

Credit: SWNS
Credit: SWNS

"He achieved the remarkable distinction of being the defendant to three of only a handful of food safety prosecutions the council had undertaken between 1990 and 2001, during which period it had carried out over 7,000 investigations.

"Dr Monks said that ENC had persecuted him because he had offended a powerful local solicitor who was a lover of ENC’s chief executive. ENC did not deny this.

"If that had been proved at trial, then it might well have been established that the abuse of process consisted in ENC’s prosecuting Dr Monks because of an outrageous abuse of power by its chief executive: that was the “vendetta” abuse of process, where the true aim was to punish Dr Monks for offending the mistress, not for serving contaminated food."

Cllr Jason Smithers, leader of North Northamptonshire Council, said: “East Northamptonshire Council’s decision to prosecute Dr Monks in relation to the Snooty Fox was an abuse of process and should never have occurred.

“It is accepted that East Northamptonshire Council’s actions caused serious personal injury, loss, and damage to him over a period of more than 20 years, and I sincerely apologise for those actions.

“I hope that Dr Monks is able to have his reputation restored and that the substantial damages which the Council has agreed to pay to him go some way towards assisting him to move forward with his life.”

Topics: News, Crime

Anish Vij
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