I cam't say I was surprised, though I was disgusted in the outcome of the Libel Trial between Jacqui Thompson - aka Caebrwyn of the award-winning Carmarthenshire Planning blog –awhich she used to expose and criticise Carmarthenshire Council's practises for many years.and Carmarthenshire's chief executive, Mark James
In response to an open letter on another blog, Carmarthenshire's chief executive sent comments to councillors making a number of allegations. As a result, Jacqui accused the chief executive of libel.
In response to her libel claim, the chief executive made a counter allegation of libel. although he claimed during the trial han never read . Which I find extraordinary.
In 2008, Carmarthenshire Council amended their constitution to allow funding for libel cases. Despite this contravening Welsh Government orders forbidding local authorities from doing so.
So it was truly a David and Goliath contest and with it going to a Judge rather than a Jury the Establishment had yet a further advantage and in this case David lost
The full judgement is given here nut I have included the conclusion
For these reasons the claim fails in its entirety. The Part 20 counterclaim succeeds in respect of the postings dated 28 February 2011, 22 March and 6 April 2011, but fails in respect of the postings dated 1 June and 14 July 2011. There will be judgment for damages in the sum £25,000. I shall hear counsel as to whether there should also be an injunction, and as to any other order that may be requested.
Since Mrs Thompson has attracted national publicity as a result of her arrest by the police on 8 June 2011, I draw attention to the following, all of which is explained in more detail in the judgment above (and which should be read in the light of the whole judgment, and not taken as inconsistent with any of it):
i) I have found that Mrs Thompson was engaged in an unlawful campaign of harassment, defamation and intimidation targeted against Mr James and other Council officers;
ii) This campaign was conducted through letters and e-mails which Mrs Thompson circulated to large numbers of addressees and the media, starting in March 2006, and by her blog started in 2009, and continuing thereafter;
iii) What I have found to be the campaign of harassment does not, and I emphasise not, include the occasions in and between February and June 2011 when she was also conducting a protest against the ban on filming the Council's proceedings with her mobile phone, subject to one exception;
iv) The one exception is the occasion when on and after 13 April 2011, after she left the Council chamber, Mrs Thompson falsely accused Mr Davies of assaulting her and attempting to steal her phone;
v) Mrs Thompson has not complained to the Council that she was assaulted on 13 April 2011, nor, so far as I have been told, has she made a complaint to the police that she was wrongly arrested on 8 June 2011 (they arrested her to prevent a breach of the peace);
vi) The parties have asked that I make no ruling on whether the Council's ban on filming was lawful or not: I have not made a ruling on that, and there was not the material before me to enable me to make a ruling on that question;
The Judge seems to have forgotten that he lives in a Democracy and Citizens have a right to criticize their rulers.
There may be a case to examine the new media Blogs,Twitter, Facebook etc but it does seem that the establishment are intent of stamping on those who use these and who make comments they disprove of.
Yesterday was a Black day for democracy it may not have silenced )I hope not) Jacqui Thompson Caebrwyn but it has given a green light to councils to abuse their power and attack anyone who points out their errors.