Monday, 13 September 2021

Croydon Council and libel funding, Carmarthenshire style...

There is growing anger amongst the council taxpayers of Croydon that their hard-earned cash has been spent unlawfully. After obstruction and delay and the involvement of the ICO, Inside Croydon, a news site based in the borough, obtained information that around £25,000 had been spent on top lawyers to issue libel threats against them.

The threats came after two articles on Inside Croydon got up the nose of the then chief executive and council leader. The Monitoring Officer appears to have given the rubber stamp to the illegal expenditure, but it all came to nothing as Inside Croydon, quite rightly, stood their ground, and demanded to know who was funding the threats. Finally, they have their answer.

"Which appears to mean that Negrini [the then CEO] was acting in contravention of that Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members and Officers) Order from 2004 which states, “No indemnity may be provided under this Order in relation to the making by the member or officer indemnified of any claim in relation to an alleged defamation of that member or officer…”.


Some might regard such actions by someone in public office as being an abuse of their position."

Furthermore, the Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers Ltd [1993] ruling, held that local authorities may not sue given that they are government bodies and should therefore be open to “uninhibited public criticism”, the House of Lords determined that allowing a council to sue, or to use an officer as proxy, would be incompatible with the Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

All of which should sound very familiar to those who have followed this blog.

Individual council officers, or Members can of course sue as individuals, like anyone else, with their own money. 

You will recall that the former chief executive, Mark James illegally used public money, or the 'slush fund' to fund a tactical counterclaim for libel against myself. The Wales Audit Office subsequently confirmed, in their Public Interest Report that this was unlawful.

He was never brought to book over the illegal legal expenditure, and neither was the crooked Monitoring Officer Linda Rees Jones who aided and abetted him. I hope Inside Croydon have more success.

Mark James was determined to shut this blog down, and despite the outcome of the libel case, he failed. More to the point, the words he sued over, 'slush fund' and 'Pinocchio' were spot-on accurate; it was a slush fund and he was, and is, a liar. Worse still was his seventeen year reign of bullying, pocketing public cash, greed and, let's face it, downright corruption, culminating in the acceptance of £mms in bribes shortly before his hurried departure.
I remain resolute that he will not get away with any of it.

I also remain resolute that I will get rid of his suspended order for sale from the £46,000 charge on my home, and that the monthly payments I struggle to make to this nasty piece of work will stop - I will use any damn means possible....
It simply cannot go on.

The article from @InsideCroydon, can be read here, an interesting read. 


Sian Caiach said...

I believe, Jacqui, that your treatment by Carmarthenshire County Council was appalling and unlawful. Unfortunately you did not have the access to the massive funds that the Executive Councillors gifted to Mark James, the chief executive to fund a high court legal case against you.
As you point out the 1993 Derbyshire ruling confirms that all government bodies, including Councils, should be open to uninhibited public criticism.

Not so in Carmarthenshire, where the leading councillors used our council taxes to fund Mark James to take a libel case against yourself, a local blogger. Your "crime" was suggesting the Chief Executive might consider a role as Pinocchio in a pantomime. Funds to take you to court were signed off by the ruling group of councillors.

Even more disgraceful was that when Plaid Cymru took over the council as they did, and are still in place, they stopped criticising the dreadful waste of money and the cruelty and injustice of impoverishing an ordinary family in your case.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, the current Council leader apparently believes that there is no wrong to right, despite declaring the opposite view when he was in opposition. I hear that he refused to take the advice of his Party Leader, Adam Price, to negotiate some recompense.

We will have new County Council elections next year and I for one will be reminding the electorate of what happened to you Jacqui, and the hollow and cowardly response of the majority of Councillors in Carmarthenshire County Council. I will name all of the Councillors who signed off the massive public funds to win the libel case. This money is needed so much today to fight the economic, health and environmental disasters we face.

When the County Council complains of the things it cannot now provide due to its finances, I will be happy to point out by name the culprits.

Any present or past councillor who thinks that it was worth spending a kings ransom to punish an ordinary housewife for suggesting that the chief executive might have been economical with the truth, should carefully examine their consciences.

Mark James resigned from his post as Chief Executive at Carmarthenshire Council. The "Wellness" project was not able to be progressed and showed some evidence of criminality and fraud when investigated.

We need better quality of Councillors next time round.

Sian Caiach

Anonymous said...

Absolutely NO ONE with any grain of decency, fair play or proper justice, should vote for any county councillor who is seeking re-election. A clean sweep of all the rubbish that passes for most of the present elected councillors, is needed to spring clean and sanitise the county council!
They ALL need to be put on the DOLE! (pun intended!)

caebrwyn said...

@Sian Caiach

Many thanks for your comment Sian, it's spot on, I've nothing further to add.

They know who they are, and more to the point, I know exactly who they are.....

@Anon 12:31

It's not just a clean sweep of councillors needed but the removal of elements of senior management who continue to perpetuate the corrupt, toxic and criminal legacy of Mark James.

Anonymous said...

Is there a link to show how my councillor voted on this issue?

Anonymous said...

Now that info could be very handy. We could spread the news.

Anonymous said...

most of the voters blindly go (happy to be proved wrong on this) to vote and more less decide there and then in the booth

to highlight the choice to be made there needs to be an AVALANCHE of negative stories about the Council in the 12 months run up to election day - perhaps the voters will then take note and vote accordingly

with community council tax at its current eye watering levels and likely to go up - it never comes down dispite various re-organisations - and with in comes squeezed we need to see value for money from our councillors and highly paid management levels - no more poor audit reports is a minimium standard

If we change the status quo I hope you will then get justice

caebrwyn said...

Thank you for the further comments. As Sian Caiach pointed out, it was the Executive Board, which featured Cllr Kevin Madge and former Cllr Meryl Gravell, who bankrolled Mark James in 2012.

Meeting details prior to 2015 have now been removed (now only available on request) from the council website so there are no direct links. Even the notorious Extraordinary Council Meeting held over the Wales Audit Office report in February 2014, which held a recorded vote, has gone.
This blog, however, covers it all, if anyone cares to search.

Suffice to say, apart from a handful of Cllrs who consistently spoke out against the unlawful action the majority either failed to grasp what had happened, or swallowed the nonsense peddled by James and Rees Jones, or didn't have the bottle to stand up to Mr James' numerous frivolous legal threats.

As Sian pointed out, in opposition, Plaid were vocal in their criticism of the whole appalling affair. Emlyn Dole meanwhile, did a little deal with Mark James. In exchange for 'power', James would 'sort out' Emlyn's planning indiscretions and Emlyn would perform a massive u-turn over the unlawful payments scandal.

Apart from a tiny handful, councillors have been complicit by their silence, which continues to this day.

Anon 09:54 You're right, it will take a seismic shift to change the status quo, I hope the May election attracts many capable, determined and truth-seeking candidates.
I am determined to get justice, one way or another.