The announcement came immediately after an interview with Keith Davies AM (Lab. Llanelli) whose main concern at the moment is apparently the need to bring in regulation of hairdressers. Unfortunately the BBC did not take the opportunity to ask him for his thoughts about what is happening in Carmarthen, but there are muffled whispers that there are stirrings of discontent within the Labour ranks.
Another mystery is what the MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Simon Hart (Con), thinks about this. Perhaps he's too busy fox hunting.
In the meantime, here is the latest rant from the Ministry of Spin.
As such, they have today published correspondence between themselves and the Wales Audit Office in order for people to judge for themselves as to what has actually taken place, ahead of the extraordinary council meeting which has been called to debate the Public Interest Report later this month (February 27).
Whilst the intention had been to present this information to councillors at the meeting, the scale and persistent nature of the misinformation in circulation has led the council to publish it earlier and set the record straight.
It has been made available on the council’s website.
A council spokesperson said: “For almost two years the Wales Audit Office gave the council every indication that it was quite satisfied that the authority was within its rights to indemnify a council officer to bring a counterclaim in response to being sued for libel and was fully aware of the legal advice that the council had received supporting it’s action. In fact, some six months after the indemnity was granted, the auditors – responding to questions raised by a local resident – repeatedly confirmed that they were satisfied that the council was acting within their powers. We feel the only way to prove this is to publish the correspondence between ourselves and the auditors so that everyone can see for themselves what has taken place.
“We notified the Auditor of our intention to provide the indemnity before we proceeded and have kept them fully informed of legal advice that we received and all developments in the court case throughout the past two years. They have had every opportunity to tell us of any concerns before the action started and at every turn since, but failed to do so until 20 months after the action started and nine months after the court case had been settled.
“In correspondence with a member of the public in August 2012, the Auditor stated that the Wales Audit Office was content that the council had the necessary legal powers to issue the indemnity. We would ask the Auditor to reflect that their failure to suggest at any time that we did not have the legal powers and this explicit statement that we DID have those powers could not have been taken as anything other than confirmation that the Wales Audit Office was quite happy with the actions that the council was taking.
“The auditor seems completely unwilling to accept that their inaction and, in fact, positive confirmation of the council’s actions for most of the period in question, has contributed to the unfortunate ‘stand-off’ of differing legal interpretations that we now find ourselves in, as they appear to have changed their minds.
“We are also asking for the Auditor to retract his statement that the council did not seek fresh legal advice at the time of granting the indemnity. This is not true. The Auditor knows that we did seek such advice and that part of it is referenced within the officer report presented to members and quoted within the Auditor’s own Public Interest Report.
“We have published on the council website several pieces of legal advice, two of which are from separate QCs, which indicate that in their view, the council has acted lawfully. We remain confident in the advice we have received and we do not believe that the auditor should present his opinion as if it was the only opinion that mattered.”