Unlawful: Auditor’s verdict on council staff using taxpayers cash to sue bloggers

Westminster Confidential

A decision by the Wales Audit Office in the last few days should send shivers down the spines of senior council staff thinking of using taxpayer’s money to silence bloggers.
The audit office have ruled that Carmarthenshire County Council acted illegally by indemnifying its chief executive,Mark James,in a libel action involving local blogger,Jacqui Thompson.
She has been involved in a long running libel case – which is due to go to appeal – over corruption allegations in Carmathenshire Council. Mr Justice Tugenhat ruled that she had run a “unlawful campaign of harassment, defamation and intimidation” against senior officials through her blog posts. The situation escalated when she was arrested for filming a council meeting on a mobile phone.
She has been ordered to pay £25,000 damages to Mr James and is facing bankruptcy after facing a £230,000 in legal costs run up by the authority in fighting the action. The…

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