Thanks to Anon for spotting that the press release has now been moved into the archive. Confusingly the only press statement currently showing in the Media section of the website preceded the statement which has gone into archive. Oh well.
The archived statement also contains links to the two QCs' reports, about which more in due course.
Update 5 February
Mysteriouser and mysteriouser. The council press release announcing that Mrs Linda Rees Jones would be producing killer evidence to show that the council was right all along, has now vanished from the council's website. The statement which promoted Mr Adam Speker, James's barrister in the libel trial, to QC and promised that the advice provided by genius Timothy Kerr QC in November 2013 would be published for all to see has gone, leaving just a funny smell and some lingering smoke.
The response of Carmarthenshire County Council to the auditor's reports, the calls for the suspension or dismissal of senior officers and the resignation of Kevin Madge and others has been, when stripped of the hysteria, that we should not judge too soon and that the council has evidence that will show the auditor was wrong.
Two documents have now been circulated to the councillors which set out the advice the council received on the ground-breaking indemnity amendment to its constitution in 2008, and another dated 27 November 2013 produced by Timothy Kerr QC on the legality of the indemnity in the Jacqui Thompson case.
Mr Kerr, it will be remembered, was also the QC who advised the council on the pensions pay "supplement" and whose chambers profile says that his clients love him and consider him to be a genius.
The conclusion of Mr Kerr's report is that the council was acting lawfully when it indemnified Mr James's counterclaim. What this cost is not yet known, but it will not have come cheap.
The reports have been distributed by Mrs Linda Rees Jones who says that councillors should compare them carefully with the contents of the auditor's report.
No doubt councillors will, but they may be puzzled about the timing of Mr Kerr's advice. One of the auditor's concerns was that the council went ahead with the indemnity without taking specific advice. When he became aware of this, he commissioned his own legal opinion and presented it to the council in September 2013.
Mr Barrett's advice was unequivocal - the indemnity was unlawful. That appears to have been the trigger which sent the council scurrying off to Mr Kerr whose report comes to the opposite conclusion. The problem with all that is that the council only sought legal opinion as recommended by the auditor 22 months after agreeing the indemnity.
Confused? Well, the bottom line is that the council is throwing down the gauntlet to the Wales Audit Office and preparing for yet more litigation and exorbitant legal fees, all to satisfy the demands of Mr James.
Mr Barrett on Public Interest Reports
After the hysterical tone of last night's press release from County Hall, here is the appointed auditor explaining in rather calmer tones why he sometimes (actually rarely) issues public interest reports.
Readers may recall that this is by no means the first time the council has had a run-in with an external body. One of the authority's bêtes noires was the Ombudsman for Public Services who frequently clashed swords with Mr James and Co. The BBC, the Western Mail and local newspapers have also all fallen foul of the Kremlin on the Towy at some point, not to mention the growing list of whistleblowers and members of the public who have had the misfortune to become entangled.