POLICE in North Yorkshire are taking civil action against three men they claim are conducting "a campaign of personal harassment" against senior officers, which has cost the taxpayer £400,000.

Police allege Peter Hofschroer, Timothy Hicks and Nigel Ward have carried out the campaign - which involved numerous emails and complaints against nine people, including three serving police officers and at least one former officer - over several years.

A spokeswoman said the force would investigate complaints made against its officers as a matter of course, but claimed "years of unwarranted, harmful personal abuse" against the individuals had already cost upwards of £400,000.

She said: "Police officers are used to dealing with difficult situations, they have broad shoulders, and they are certainly not above criticism.

"However we are talking about years of unwarranted, harmful personal abuse, that ties up police time and which has already cost North Yorkshire Police in excess of £400,000 to handle. In the interests of the public purse, we hope the campaign of harassment can be brought to an end, so we can concentrate police resources on policing, which is what we – and the public – want to happen."

An interim hearing was held in Leeds last week, where Mr Hicks who lives in Luxembourg, and Mr Ward, of Whitby - who have both written for a number of North Yorkshire-based websites - gave certain undertakings to the court.

The matter goes back to court next month, when police will apply for a full injunction.

The court decided it was not necessary to make an interim injunction against Mr Hofschroer, 58, formerly of Rosedale Avenue, Acomb, as he is currently in custody on remand for unconnected criminal matters, relating to indecent images of children.

The police spokeswoman said: "This was only an interim hearing.

"The full matter still has to be heard by the court, when we hope the situation may be resolved conclusively, subject to the judge’s decision. It would not be appropriate for us to make any comment on the detail of the case whilst it is still in process."

When contacted by The Press, Mr Ward said they were both unable to comment on the matter at this time.

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said the full application was yet to go before the judge, but "it is in everyone's interests - including the tax-payer - for this to be brought to a rapid conclusion”.