Bafta-nominated TV director wins court fight over flytipped mattress with pop producer neighbour

A mummy blogger and her BAFTA-nominated TV director husband have won a bitter court fight over a fly-tipped mattress against their pop music producer neighbour who worked with Annie Lennox and Aswad. 

Misha Manson-Smith, 47, and his writer wife Alex, 44, say they and their family have been subjected to ‘acts of nuisance and harassment’ for years by Mark Arthurworrey – a musician who produced tracks for 80’s stars including Annie Lennox and Aswad.

Mr Manson-Smith, who has worked on award-winning comedies and documentaries, told London’s High Court that the pair have been at war with Mr Arthurworrey, who has made their lives a ‘misery’, since 2014.

Amongst other allegations, the couple accused him of dumping a ‘large volume of rubbish’, including a mattress, in their garden, creating ‘noise nuisance’ and turning off the utilities at their flat.

Copywriter and journalist Alex Manson-Smith, 44 (pictured). The couple, who live in Hackney, London, said they and their family have been subjected to 'acts of nuisance and harassment'

Copywriter and journalist Alex Manson-Smith, 44 (pictured). The couple, who live in Hackney, London, said they and their family have been subjected to ‘acts of nuisance and harassment’

Mark Arthurworrey, 67,  a musician who produced tracks for 80's stars including Annie Lennox and Aswad (pictured above). After taking him to court, the couple have won damages

Mark Arthurworrey, 67,  a musician who produced tracks for 80’s stars including Annie Lennox and Aswad (pictured above). After taking him to court, the couple have won damages

Mr Arthurworrey, 67, contended the front garden of the building in Hackney, London, did not rightfully belong to the couple but was in fact his and denied any wrongdoing.

But after taking him to court, the couple have won damages and are seeking an injunction to ban the music producer from interfering with them or their property.

Lawyers for Mr and Mrs Manson-Smith told Judge Hugh Southey QC that their troubles began when they bought a flat in a converted house in Dalston, east London, of which Mr Arthurworrey owns the freehold and ‘controls’ the other two flats in the building.

Their barrister, Jamal Demachkie, said that ‘initial obstructive behaviour’ on the part of Mr Arthurworrey, including an incident when ‘the gas was turned off,’ led to an earlier court clash between the neighbours and ‘sets the scene’ for the current dispute.

He told the judge that Mr Arthurworrey went on to subject Mr and Mrs Manson-Smith to ‘acts of nuisance and harassment for a significant period of time including clashes over the use of the garden gate, fly-tipping, noise nuisance and refusal of access’.

The barrister added: ‘Mr Arthurworrey dumped a large volume of rubbish into flat A’s garden, including a mattress….he admits dropping it but says “this is my garden.”

‘My clients do own the front garden and have the right to use the back garden.

‘Even if Mr Arthurworrey did own the front garden it would still constitute a harassment to dump rubbish and detritus into it, causing a nuisance and blocking the passageway.

Misha Manson-Smith (above), 47, who has worked on award-winning comedies and documentaries, said that the pair have been at war with Mr Arthurworrey since 2014

Misha Manson-Smith (above), 47, who has worked on award-winning comedies and documentaries, said that the pair have been at war with Mr Arthurworrey since 2014

‘That’s not all. There’s the noise nuisance, the blocking of the access to the back garden… this is ultimately six years of harassment directed at Mr Manson-Smith and his family.’

The barrister told the judge that, following ‘particularly pernicious harassment’, the couple had obtained a restraining order on the neighbour in March 2017.

In the High Court last month, they sued for damages and a civil injunction for harassment, nuisance and breach of covenant.

Following a day-long hearing, Mr Arthurworrey was debarred from defending his neighbours’ claim after failing to follow a court order made on a previous occasion.

Making an order for summary judgment in favour of Mr and Mrs Manson-Smith, Judge Southey said: ‘There is no material that would allow a court to reject the claimants’ evidence.

‘A court would be required to make clear findings of interference with the electricity and water supply to Flat A, clear findings of fly tipping and vandalism, clear findings of noise nuisance, clear findings of fake allegations being made in litigation, clear findings of flooding, clear findings of broken windows and pigeon infestation.’

The judge said that dumping rubbish into the couple’s front garden ‘could amount to harassment’ and he refused to back Mr Arthurworrey’s claim that the couple ‘fraudulently’ obtained ownership of the garden.

He concluded: ‘It appears to me that the matters I have found a court would find inevitably proven do amount to harassment, so that Mr and Mrs Manson-Smith are entitled to relief.

‘It also appears to me that the conduct amounts to a breach of the implied covenant for quiet enjoyment of the property.

‘That is a sufficient basis for granting summary judgment.’

The building in Hackney which contains the flats of Mr Arthurworrey and Mr Manson-Smith. The judge said dumping rubbish into the front garden 'could amount to harassment'

The building in Hackney which contains the flats of Mr Arthurworrey and Mr Manson-Smith. The judge said dumping rubbish into the front garden ‘could amount to harassment’

Mr Demachkie told the judge that while there is a restraining order in place against Mr Arthurworrey, they want a more ‘extensive’ order put in place.

‘They will be asking the court to make a civil injunction in due course,’ he added.

Although Mr Demachkie said a long delay would only ‘prolong the misery’ for the couple, the judge adjourned the question of how much in damages Mr Arthurworrey must pay.

Mr Manson-Smith has worked with stars including Sacha Baron Cohen, David Hasselhoff and Michael Sheen and has been nominated for BAFTAs three times.

He has also won the Rose D’Or for Comedy Series, the Primetime Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Non-Fiction Filmmaking and the British Comedy Award for Best New Comedy.

Mr Arthurworrey had a successful 25-year career as a record producer, working on both sides of the Atlantic.

He lived in Hollywood, working with Ray Parker Jnr of Ghostbusters fame, and Earth, Wind and Fire.

He also produced The Associates, Billy McKensie and Annie Lennox, The Love Affair, William Bell, The Mighty Sparrow and Aswad.

Mrs Manson-Smith, the co-author of ‘You’re So Mummy’, is a freelance copywriter and journalist.