A JUDGE has thrown out claims made against a Hampshire MP by the founder of a fathers’ rights group.

Matthew and Nadine O’Connor are now facing a bill for thousands of pounds in costs to be paid to Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes and former Conservative lobbyist Adrian Yalland.

However the O’Connors say that they will appeal the decision, made at a court in London, and intend to continue with their legal action against Ms Nokes and Mr Yalland.

The O’Connors, who run pressure group Fathers4Justice, brought a civil action against Mr Yalland, claiming that he had harassed them, aided by Ms Nokes, during an incident at their former home in Stockbridge last year.

It happened when Mr Yalland visited their home to serve defamation papers.

Court documents seen by the Daily Echo state that an application by the O’Connors for an injunction against Mr Yalland was thrown out in October, with a judge saying that there was a “total absence of evidence”.

During a hearing on Friday at London County Court, Judge David Mitchell struck out the O’Connors’ claims, ordering that they pay Ms Nokes and Mr Yalland a combined £10,970 in costs.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Ms Nokes said that the judge had described the claims as “an abuse of the court’s process”, saying “there is not a shred of evidence against Ms Nokes” and describing both the MP and Mr Yalland as victims of “harassment” from Mr and Mrs O’Connor.

She said: “Over the past two years Mr and Mrs O’Connor, and their supporters, have abused and sought to intimidate me.

“Their ‘war’ against me has destroyed their credibility as a campaign group. It’s now time for the O’Connors to wake up and realise the damage they are doing to what is a really worthy cause.

“I am of course relieved, but not surprised at the judge’s ruling.

Despite the costs award, this vexatious and malicious claim has cost me thousands of pounds, and been a drain on my time and energy.

“I will, of course, discuss with my solicitor how the costs order can be enforced.”

Daily Echo:

Adrian Yalland

Mr Yalland said: “The O’Connors should take stock of the comments of the judge and should stop making allegations against people which are demonstrably false.”

In a statement, the O’Connors said: “Given there are ongoing legal proceedings and a further hearing on March 13 relating to these matters, we are surprised and concerned by the actions of the county court in making this decision without all parties being present. We should stress that we will immediately appeal any judgement striking our claim out.”

A dispute between Ms Nokes and Fathers4Justice developed after the group accused the MP of breaching her 2010 pre-election promises to it over the introduction of Shared Parenting.

Ms Nokes denies this and said that she contacted the group, which fights for dads’ custody rights, offering to help make written amendments to the Bill, but the group had not told her what it disagreed with.