Celebrity comic accused of harassment

An harassment case involving celebrity comic Justin Lee Collins deals with issues covered under the new expanded definition of what constitutes domestic abuse, though that definition will not be employed until March 2013.

Domestic abuse has almost always been characterised by an act or acts of violence, but from March 2013 the definition will incorporate coercive behaviour where one partner seeks to exert control over the other. In the harassment case against Mr Collins he is accused by his former-girlfriend Anna Larke of forcing her to close her Facebook, Twitter and e-mail accounts, as well as discarding DVDs of movies that included actors she might find attractive. He is also accused of keeping a notebook with intimate details of all her previous relationships, and Ms Larke generally described a pattern of "emotional, verbal and physical abuse".

Mr Collins is also accused of acts of violence and threats of violence, including pushing Ms Larke into traffic. Mr Collins denies the charge of harassment, causing fear of violence.

Suzanne Scott, a solicitor specialising in domestic violence and other family law issues at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast commented:

"The kinds of actions being alleged by Ms Larke constitute exactly the sort of behaviour that the new expanded definition of domestic abuse is seeking to protect against. Notwithstanding that in this case there are also accusations of violence, the allegations of extreme control being exerted would from next year in themselves constitute domestic abuse."

If you live in Northern Ireland and require legal advice in respect of domestic abuse you can contact one of the specialist family law solicitors at Wilson Nesbitt by calling 0800 840 1363.