As predicted on this blog a couple of weeks ago, the recent flurry of activity by Mark James and Carmarthenshire County Council in their pursuit of fellow blogger Jacqui Thompson after a three year lull was part of a carefully constructed plan of action.
First the bailiffs turn up at Jacqui's home, then Mr James goes on a PR offensive, and next an item appears on the council's Executive Board agenda to be discussed in secret behind closed doors. The supposedly highly confidential report recommending action to try to recover £190,000 in costs (but not a further £40,000 in bills run up by Mr James in his unlawfully funded counterclaim) was then leaked to the Carmarthen Journal which, coincidentally, has served as his mouthpiece on countless occasions in recent years.
The dust had not settled on that before a new three-pronged attack was launched. The council has written to Jacqui asking for proposals in the next few days on how she intends to pay the £190,000 bill, knowing full well that she can't, and that the chief executive in any case has a charge on her property and a prior claim in respect of his libel damages.
The bailiffs having left empty-handed after a couple of fruitless visits, Mr James has gone to the police alleging criminal harassment, and he is threatening to take her back to the High Court, presumably at his own expense this time, alleging that she has breached undertakings given after the trial not to repeat statements made in her blog which the court found to be libellous.
"In defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity", runs one of Churchill's most quoted maxims. Magnanimity is clearly out of stock in County Hall and the James residence.
What happens next is anyone's guess. The council will have either to bite the bullet and write off the debt, or spend even more public money on further court action to have her declared bankrupt - before writing off the debt.
Dyfed Powys Police will have to spend a lot of time, effort and public money investigating Mr James's complaint of harassment.
Harassment can take different forms, but Jacqui has not taken to stalking Mr James with a sharpened axe. Rather, her supposedly vicious and relentless pursuit of Mr James consists of chronicling his 15-year rule in County Hall which has produced countless negative headlines in the press and on our TV screens.
Nearly four years ago Mr James launched an all-out assault on Cllr Sian Caiach with no fewer than five complaints of misconduct to the Ombudsman for Public Services because she had made a few prescient remarks critical of Mr James and Cllr Meryl Gravell. The Ombudsman dismissed every one of them, pointing out that freedom of expression was a feature of democracy, and suggesting that Mr James should grow a thicker skin.
Dyfed Powys has better things to do with its scant resources, and it would do well to take a leaf out of the Ombudsman's book.
That leaves the possibility of a return to the High Court, this time paid for by Mr James we would hope, to examine whether Jacqui is guilty of contempt for not having pots of money and not writing that Mr James is a beacon of virtue in Welsh local government.
While Dyfed Powys Police clearly have better things to do than protect Mr James's very tender ego, so too does the County Council, you would think. But countless hours and pounds continue to be poured into this bottomless pit, and what all of the latest initiatives against Jacqui Thomas have in common is that they will take a very long time, energy and pots of our money to pursue to the bitter end.
Any doomed attempt by the council to try to seize assets would take at least a year to pursue through the courts.
A thorough investigation by Dyfed Powys Police, involving trawling through hundreds of blogposts, will take months, and in the event that they conclude that there are grounds for prosecution, many more months would pass and tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money would have to be spent before the matter went to court, costing us all more money. And to what end? The holy grail of silencing a critical blog?
The same probably applies to the threat to pursue Jacqui for alleged contempt of court. It took 18 months from the publication of Mr James's fatwa on the Madaxeman blog for the judge and bewigged barristers to take their places in the Courts of Justice in London. Even if the legal system goes into overdrive, what could amount to a re-run of the libel trial is likely to take at least a year to bring about.
All of which means that a series of time bombs have been set ticking which could very likely begin exploding around the time of next year's council elections, generating a flood of unflattering PR for the council. There is a high risk that some or all of them could backfire, and even if Mr James succeeds in having the Thompsons made homeless, the blog silenced and Jacqui Thompson put behind bars for lèse majesté, it will all have been achieved at a massive cost.
If ever there was a case of "not in the public interest", this is it.