Friday 20 September 2013

The WAO investigates (very slowly)

Golwg, the Welsh current affairs magazine (available in all good newsagents but not Tesco's), reports that the Wales Audit Office is investigating Carmarthenshire County Council's use of public money to fund the chief executive's libel action against blogger Jacqui Thompson.

The article adds a couple of interesting new pieces of information to what has previously been reported on this blog (see A Bombshell).

Firstly, it seems that the WAO investigation is taking place as part of the auditor's annual inspection of the County Council's accounts. Golwg points out that the Welsh Government has rules in place explicitly prohibiting councils from using public money to enable council officers to bring libel actions.

It is also now clear that several complaints about the award of Mr James's indemnity were made to the Wales Audit Office, and Rhodri Glyn Thomas, the Assembly Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, confirmed to Golwg that he was one of those to have made a complaint.

The AM previously told the magazine that Carmarthenshire County Council was "the only county council in Wales and the UK to allow the use of public money to bring [libel] cases against voters".

At least one of the complaints was made back in early March of this year, and so the WAO can hardly be accused of rushing its investigation.

Debbie Williams, who heads up the council's press office, told Golwg that the WAO had to respond if someone raised a matter with them and that "we will be happy to provide them with any information they need".

Ms Williams was unable or unwilling to provide Golwg with a statement in Welsh. Let's hope that the council's Census Working Group takes note of this latest example of the gulf which separates the council's warm words about the language and the reality.


Anonymous said...

Probably the only council to be a major sponsor of a regional rugby club too?

Anonymous said...

Why would Rhodri Glyn moan about it ?. If plaid had been in power Caebrwyn would never have had planning anyway.
I expect its easier to give Mr James the leash on Libel as from what i see most of the exec could have gone with a case and won.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the criteria for "head of the press office" had more to do with experience, relevant qualifications and ability, rather than the oft accidental ability to speak Welsh.

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @20.19 I suggest you read some of the press office's output - you can find some choice extracts on this blog.