On the right hand side of this blog is a simple poll asking readers to vote on the question of whether Carmarthenshire County Council is right to fund an action for libel brought by its chief executive, Mark James, against Jacqui Thompson, author of a well-known blog called Carmarthenplanning.
In agreeing to fund both the chief executive's defence against a claim brought by Jacqui and a counter-claim brought by Mr James, the Executive Board of the council has signed a blank cheque to pick up costs which could well run into six figures.
But this case is about much more than the use or misuse of public money. It is very rare for local authorities to act in this way, and there is a long-standing convention that organs of government may not bring actions for defamation because the freedom of speech which we enjoy as citizens would very quickly perish if individuals and the press could be taken to court every time something was said or written to which government, councils or other public bodies took exception.
In the case of councils such as Carmarthenshire, the system of cabinet government, with very extensive delegation of powers to non-elected officers, is making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between the role of senior officers and the council itself.
You can see this for yourselves if you go to a meeting of the full council, where the chief executive almost invariably dominates the proceedings, intervening on just about any given subject and getting more "air time" than any of the councillors.
The truth is that in councils like Carmarthenshire, every decision of any importance, and a great many of lesser importance, will involve the chief executive. Nothing much happens or moves without his approval.
There are two distinct issues in this case. First, we have the question of the funding being given to enable the chief executive to pursue a local woman through the courts. You can find more background on this both on this blog, here, and on Inside Out, another local blog, here.
The second question is on the libel question itself. Because this is now sub-judice, it is not possible to comment on the details of the alleged libels. The reasons why Jacqui decided to take action against Mr James are, however, well-known.
It is greatly to be hoped that the public eventually gets sight of what Mr James found so objectionable in Jacqui Thompson's blog so that people can decide for themselves whether this was a good use of public money.
In the meantime, if you are unfamiliar with Jacqui's blog, go and have a look for yourselves. Here it is.