Sunday 29 January 2012

Putting two and two together

One of the exempted items at the most recent meeting of Carmarthenshire’s governing Executive Board was a decision to indemnify an unnamed officer of the council.

What could that be all about?

The item, which was not on the published agenda for the meeting, was agreed unanimously, and that’s all the council will tell us.

In layman’s terms, this almost certainly means that the council has agreed to fund litigation on behalf of one of the council’s officers, and it is unique among councils in Wales, and most likely the UK as a whole, in giving itself powers to use public money to pay for court cases involving individual officers.

What we do know, of course, is that fellow blogger, Jacqui Thompson, is bringing libel proceedings against chief executive Mark James for remarks he made on another blog.

Perhaps that would explain the emergency decision by the Executive Board. If that is the case, a strange aspect of this latest decision, rushed through as an "emergency", is that the writ against Mr James was served back in November last year, so that the Council has had plenty of time to consider its course of action.

We can only speculate, but given the chief executive’s dim view of criticism levelled at himself and “his” council, perhaps we may also be funding a counter-claim as well as the defence. Who knows.

Whether this is good use of public money by a council which is having to make deep cuts in public services, is another matter.

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