Wednesday, 13 February 2013

James v Thompson - the trial begins - Updated

For those of you who use Twitter, you can follow the trial with the hashtag #daftarrest. It is good to see that the case is attracting a good deal of media attention, and Jacqui Thompson will be pleased to see some of her supporters in the gallery.

Jacqui's barrister began his opening remarks by saying, "You can’t criticise the council’s ability to fund libel claims or you will be sued for libel."

Not long after proceedings got underway, the case was adjourned briefly to allow the judge time to read various papers relating to the scope of the case and to view footage of a council meeting filmed by Jacqui on Youtube. The judge later reported that he was unfortunately unable to access Youtube because of IT security settings at the Royal Courts of Justice. Proceedings were expected to resume this afternoon.

Back in Wales, the South Wales Guardian reports that the legality of the council's controversial constitutional amendment allowing it to fund libel cases has been questioned.

Needless to say, no expense is being spared by the council when it comes to Mr James's legal representation by one of the leading and, you can bet, most expensive libel specialists in Britain. Nice to see that our council tax is being put to good use.

Cneifiwr has been advised that he may be called as a witness, and will be going off air for a couple of days as a result.

The trial is expected to continue into next week. More to follow.


Jacqui has been giving evidence this afternoon, and there are four or five people tweeting live from the courtroom. Wrexham and Carmarthenshire councils may wish to note that the world has not yet come to an end as a result of this exercise in transparency.

Among those tweeting from the courtroom is Heather Brooke, the campaigner for transparency in public life, who was instrumental in bringing the scandal of MPs' expenses to light.

Here is a sample of one of her tweets from court:

As local newspapers diminish, councils are becoming private fiefdoms. Skins of public servants growing ever thinner.

The court was adjourned at 4pm and will resume again tomorrow.

Update 8pm

The trial is expected to run for 5-7 days. The council's Chief Executive and Head of Law, Mrs Linda Rees Jones as well as Mrs James were all in court today to watch proceedings, and will both presumably be there for the duration. Guess who's paying for that.

Jacqui spent most of the day giving evidence and will tomorrow undergo cross-examination. Mr James will take to the witness box next week.

If today's Twitter feed from the courtroom was anything to go by, this could turn into the council's biggest ever PR disaster. And that's saying something.


Anonymous said...

An interesting use of the word Fiefdom . If you dont get planning in your own acre run riot over many acres.

Will witnesses get expences and will expenses go to charity ?

Anonymous said...

I am astounded by all this. This case is being followed by many peple who are reporting proceedings on twitter to the shame of Carmarthenshire.

How much is it costing ? who is paying ?

This is an age of austerity for god sake and services are being cut.

Words fail me - they do honestly !!

Patricia B. said...

I have been following on twitter today,, and I would agree with your last sentiment.

Oh, wouldn't it be luverly!!!

Another disgraceful episode in the already shambolic goings on in our local council.

Cneifiwr said...

The answer to that last question is that witnesses, at least those called by Jacqui Thompson's team, will have their travel costs reimbursed, and that's it.

Not even a cup of London tea.

Robert said...

I do not know what you can say, I'm no fan of Mr James, each time he gets a pay rise of a hike in expenses or he's paid a fee, it's due to him being head hunted, seems the head hunters I'm thinking about would mean his head would be shrunk and he'd not need anymore wages.

Mrs Angry said...

I'll buy you a cup of London tea, Cneifiwr, if you are a good boy, and are feeling a bit skint ...!

Carmarthen ratepayer said...

I trust I'm not contributing to the cost of Mrs James having a week's holiday in London! Bad enough having to pay for her husband's legal expenses (and no doubt, travel and accommodation expenses as well).

Anonymous said...

To help with funds, would it not be a good idea to introduce "Means Testing" for handouts/salaries etc to our beloved Councillors. It would enable those with the burden of massive assets to sleep easier in the knowledge that they were not being considered drains on the resources of the County that they serve/has served them (delete as appropriate) so well.

Anonymous said...