June 6, 2013

Response to Jacqui Thompson’s Recent Statement On The Daft Arrest Libel Case.

Filed under: Uncategorized — madaxeman @ 9:52 pm

Jacqui Thompson has just released a statement on the #DaftArrest libel case, which can be found here. I urge you to read it – go away and do that – and then come back.

Done? Good.

First of all, it should be understood that upon receiving Mr. James comments for publication on this blog, I was so surprised, I actually wrote back to him and suggested he might want to reconsider them, as Mrs. Thompson was likely to contest many of his assertions. Had he done so, all the legal expenses of this affair could have been avoided – in their entirety. Whilst the court has ordered Jacqui to pay the costs, the simple fact is that she does not have the funds to do so – and so the truth of the matter is that the tax payers in Carmarthenshire are going to be left with a significant slice of the bill…

Had Mr. James asked to withdraw his comments, I would have respected that. I’m an honest, decent, person – but even if I were not, Mr. James had in his possession an email from me offering to let him reconsider. There would have been no risk to him whatsoever – had I at some point in the future revealed the exchange in violation of any agreement, he would be able to demonstrate my bad faith… Not that this matters now, for this is not what he chose to do…

What his counsel chose to do in the High Court was to suggest that I was somehow taking instruction from Jacqui – that we were in it together… They don’t seem too concerned that if I were in cahoots with her, giving him an easy way to retract would hardly serve our purpose… No – that one apparently slipped past some of finest, and apparently most expensive, legal minds in our country.

For the record, I sent Jacqui some supportive Tweets – suggested I wasn’t done with Mr. James, but I never planned anything with her, gave her instructions, or received instructions from her. To suggest otherwise is, frankly, reaching a bit…

Something else that we might reflect upon is that Mr. James comments on this blog were in response to a number of perfectly sincere, clear questions. His comments criticised Jacqui at some length, but he didn’t seem to find the time to address any of my substantive points. To draw on a saying from the world of football, readers can draw their own conclusions as to whether he was playing the ball, the man, or indeed in this case the woman…

I share Jacqui’s concern that the conclusion of the #DaftArrest case sets an awful precedent that might well be used now to deter people, citizens and journalists alike, from holding public bodies to proper scrutiny. I also firmly believe that she was not conducting a campaign of harassment. Her blog (read it) is well researched, covers all manner of topics related to council business, and is actually seen by many in Carmarthenshire has one of an ever decreasing number of sources of sincere reflection on the actions of the authority. I also personally share her conclusion that she is the victim of a miscarriage of justice… Writing a blog about a council does not constitute harassment, and a council should be welcoming of such scrutiny. Perhaps they doth protest too much, and perhaps we might ask ourselves why…

Jacqui’s insurers have seen fit, in light of comments made by the judge, to withdraw their cover. They took her money happily enough, but when it comes to it, they’ve ran from their obligations. I do hope Jacqui reveals their identity in time, because this case should serve as a warning to anyone else tempted to enter into such an agreement with them in the future.

At the end of the day, Jacqui stands to lose her home over this – and what exactly is so terrible that she has done? She hasn’t thrown bricks through windows – she has shone the light of scrutiny into what feels like some particularly dark corners of council business. We bloggers now have to decide how to react to how Jacqui was treated – and personally, I think there could be no finer tribute than continuing to shine that light.

Jacqui is seeking leave to appeal, and since I feel it to be in the interest of justice, I wish her every success. Rather than prosecuting her, we should be nominating her for an honour…



  1. There is a big difference between the arrest (which was disgraceful) and the libel action. Thompson launched the libel action – nobody made her do that, and anyone who supported her would not have given the CE’s comments a huge amount of credence anyway. If someone chooses to launch a libel case against a public authority and then lose, should the taxpayer really pick up the tab?

    Comment by Tim Turner (@tim2040) — June 7, 2013 @ 7:18 am | Reply

    • Hi Tim – thanks for your comment…

      Thompson did indeed launch the action, but not before trying to get the CE to retract his comments. It could, and should, have all been settled with a simple rewording – and possibly (though not necessarily) the use of the word “Sorry”.

      There are conflicting interests in a case like this – I could for instance point out that where other means fail, Thompson is quite within her rights, and acts perfectly reasonably be taking action in the courts. You might well counter, equally reasonably, the if the CE wants to maintain his position then he is within his rights to do so as well – I certainly wouldn’t want to restrict his freedom of expression…

      Where we certainly do agree is that it is wrong, very wrong, that the taxpayer is left to pick up the bill for this. First of all, it would have been far preferable to resolve their differences out of court if possible. Secondly, if Jacqui’s insurers entered into such a contract, then they should cover her fees.

      However, let’s say someone can’t afford to take insurance, and has a genuine grievance. Should they be denied access to remedies in law simply because the council might end up having to pay their costs in the long run. What about free access to justice, and equality before the law? What of justice then?

      Comment by madaxeman — June 10, 2013 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  2. Individuals (bloggers or otherwise) cannot accuse anyone of corruption, not least a Council Chief Executive (and other officials) without evidence.and expect no response.

    Comment by — June 7, 2013 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

    • That’s not what happened in this case though. I believe she accused the council of operating a libel “slush fund” which could be used to indemnify officers to take action in circumstances where the council could not.

      Comment by madaxeman — June 10, 2013 @ 11:20 am | Reply

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