Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said a council was unwise to use public money to try to unmask a blogger behind allegedly libellous comments.
South Tyneside Council went to a US court to force Twitter to release information which may identify a user behind a blog called "Mr Monkey".
Mr Pickles said he was "not entirely comfortable" with the legal action.
The council said the £75,000 cost was "proportionate" and necessary to protect councillors and staff. [It has been alleged that it's more like £225,000]
Mr Pickles, who was in South Tyneside to open a new call centre, said: "I think the council has to be very careful about this kind of thing. "You cannot libel a council. I am not entirely comfortable that public money has been used in this way. "I want to see how it pans out, but I'm not sure it was the wisest thing to do."
South Tyneside Council leader Iain Malcolm said: "I am convinced that what the officers have done is proportionate.
My comment: Is the man an idiot? He is leader of the council, he is party to the libel action and he tells council officers what to do. Therefore, his statement that he is convinced that what officers have done is proportionate is ludicrous, they only do what they are told to do by councillors. Clearly another councillor not fit for purpose.
Read the full story from the source BBC News (Tyne & Wear)
UPDATE: 10th June 2011: South Tyneside council monkey business
It’s emerged that the council might actually be breaking the law too, councils cannot sue for defamation and there are rules against them paying for staff to sue for defamation. The Local Authorities (Indemnities for Members & Officers) Order 2004 says: "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".
It looks like South Tyneside Council are sailing very close to the wind if they are funding a private defamation case to protect the reputations of their senior staff.
Read the full story from the source TPA (Scroll down for article)
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