In January 2018, BES Utilities successfully concluded a legal action against two individuals who had orchestrated a long-running online hate campaign against the company, its directors, employees and legal representatives. The defendants, Oliver Mooney and Neil Scrivener, had published numerous abusive and inaccurate articles and blog posts including (sometimes doctored) images of Andy Pilley, his young family and others.
It appeared that large amounts of inaccurate information had been sent to by the defendants to Trading Standards, Ofgem and others. Evidence shown to the court also indicated that the men had discussed teaming up with an energy brokerage, whereby they would receive payment for forwarding customer details to the broker, who would then attempt to move customers from BES to other energy suppliers in return for a commission payment. They had also requested large sums of money from BES in return for ceasing their campaign. The defendants had also published homophobic images of Mr Pilley and others, plus shared photos online of employees’ young children.
The defendants in the case provided undertakings to the court to remove the content they had published in relation to Mr Pilley, his companies and all employees, agents and representatives. Both men were issued with court orders including penal notices which prevents further interference with BES, its directors or associated businesses.
If the men fail to comply with the order they may be held in contempt of court and could be fined or imprisoned. The court has also ordered that if the defendants breach the undertakings, they will be required to pay £250,000 towards BES’s substantial legal costs. They also signed the following statement: “We withdraw any allegation of fraud or dishonesty against Business Energy Solutions Limited and BES Commercial Electricity Limited, their directors, officers, agents, legal advisers and other professional representatives”.
Following a raid of BES and Commercial Power in July 2016, which it appears may have been influenced by the actions of the defendants, a claim for damages equating to £8.6m was launched against Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards in late 2017. These proceedings are ongoing.