The appointed auditor, Anthony Barrett, has issued a new statement in response to the council's claims that the WAO had changed its mind over the legality of the libel indemnity. The latest twist shows that the council has at best been extremely economical with the truth, and is even now trying to spin its way out of trouble.
In its statement yesterday Carmarthenshire County Council claimed that the WAO had told a member of the public (almost certainly Jacqui Thompson) that the indemnity was lawful.
It now turns out that the WAO told the council when it was preparing to indemnify a counterclaim against Jacqui Thompson that it should take legal advice on that specific matter.
The council did not, but relied on general legal advice it had been given back in 2008.
The reason council officers did not provide the Executive Board with copies of legal advice received on the indemnity was that no such advice had been sought or received.
The story has now been picked up by the South Wales Guardian which quotes Mr Barrett as follows,
“In August 2012, some four months after the council had already
started paying legal costs, the Appointed Auditor provided a response to
a member of the public, in which he referred to the general legal
advice that the council had obtained.
“The Appointed Auditor obtained his own legal advice in September 2013 and provided this in full to the Council.”
That 2013 legal advice was of the view that the indemnity was “contrary to the law”.
The council however dismissed the advice as wrong, the Guardian says, and as we know, the matter ended up in court.
What happened to the WAO's legal advice from September 2013 and who got to see it remains a mystery.