A couple have won damages by a Hampshire council after defamatory comments were published on the authority’s website.
The women have lived in a rural village outside Southampton for five years, during which time they said their property had been repeatedly been targeted. On one occasion, vandals caused £12,000 worth of damage.
The couple installed CCTV cameras but were then told by Test Valley Borough Council that they must apply for retrospective planning permission after the council received letters from neighbours objecting to the cameras.
The council published many of the letters on its website, which included claims concerning young children playing outside and in neighbouring gardens.
But one was so libellous that the couple hired a solicitor to ensure it was taken offline and the council were forced to pay damages admitting it should never have been published.
One of the women told The Telegraph: “The abuse had just escalated. It’s been awful. All we want is to live a quiet life.
“We have had stink bombs thrown at our car, paint and condoms thrown, our garage door dented with pellet bullets, cars parked in such a way that it is impossible to get into our car… the police say they can’t do anything as there is no evidence it’s a hate crime but it’s pretty obvious why this is happening.
“We are both transgender. That is really the only difference between us and other people. Our solicitor described it as a witch hunt.”
Test Valley Borough Council confirmed damages had been paid in an out of court settlement, the details of which emerged in a Freedom of Information request. He confirmed that they paid an excess of £1,000 to insurance provider, Zurich, to award the compensation package.
“It was a third party letter which contained libellous content over a planning application on our website,” it said in a statement.