March 15, 2013

A Ghastly Decision on #DaftArrest

Filed under: Uncategorized — madaxeman @ 2:10 pm

I really shouldn’t be typing right now… I know it’s not a smart idea to blog when you’re angry, and boy oh boy am I angry right now… I’ve just heard the news that Jacqui Thompson, the well known and respected blogger from Carmarthenshire, has lost her libel action against Mark James (Carmarthenshire County Council Chief Executive) – and now faces a bill for £25,000 in damages.

This decision, believe it or not (and I really am having problems with this) was taken in the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice. By an actual judge. Who was awake. Shocking…

It is my view, and I speak as someone who has regularly read Jacqui’s blog over the course of the past couple of years, that all Jacqui has done is to hold her local council to account – and she’s done that amidst a perception that the local press failed to do this effectively themselves… The Council would have us believe that she her blog is motivated by a desire to harass Mark James and assorted other officers following an earlier libel case – and the Council, like it or not, are talking bollocks.

I’ve met this lady – and whilst it’s fair to say that the earlier case perhaps triggered her blog (a move to try and bring some scrutiny to the conduct of the Council), it can hardly be said that this continues to motivate her. She rarely brought up the subject of the earlier action on the occasions we have spoken (though I was already aware of it), but she did talk at length about the various misdeeds of the council, about her arrest, and about the need for scrutiny of public bodies… I agree with her sentiments on all points.

I gave evidence in this trial, sat through a day of it in court, and kept abreast of it on the days I wasn’t there using Twitter and the excellent commentary provided by Mrs Angry (Broken Barnet). I can’t say that I have come away from the case having seen justice to be done.

There are, perhaps most troubling of all, a lot of things I can’t now say – for fear of facing my own encounter with Carmarthenshire’s lawyers. I’m certainly not engaged in a campaign of harassment, and have valid points to make, and yet can’t speak my mind on reasonable points without fear of the potential consequences.

I weep for democracy, and for the very concept of accountability in public life. If Jacqui decides to appeal, she will have my support.












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