Carmarthenshire council starts webcasting meetings

Carmarthenshire says it will be the first Welsh authority to make simultaneous bilingual transmissions

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A council which took legal action against a local blogger after she tried to film its meetings has now started to broadcast them live over the web.

Carmarthenshire says it will be the first Welsh authority to make simultaneous bilingual transmissions.

All full council meetings will be broadcast for a year in a trial scheme.

In March Jacqui Thompson, who had tried to film a meeting on her mobile phone, was ordered to pay the council's chief executive £25,000 libel damages.

Mark James counter-sued her after she initially took action against him for libel following her ejection from the meeting in June 2011.

Mrs Thompson was arrested after refusing to stop filming.

In the row which followed Mr James wrote a letter to councillors in response to Mrs Thompson's criticism of the council which was then republished on a blog.

But a High Court judge ruled Mrs Thompson was engaged in "an unlawful campaign of harassment, defamation and intimidation targeted against Mr James and other council officers" and she was ordered to pay the damages.

Mark James and Jacqui Thompson Carmarthenshire chief executive Mark James and Jacqui Thompson sued each other for libel

Mr James later said in a statement: "Councils and other public bodies accept that they are open to legitimate criticism, but this cannot extend to... unlawful harassment and unfounded allegations of wrongdoing by its officers."

The council is now following many other Welsh authorities in broadcasting its meetings on the web and says the move has cross-party support.

Ahead of the first webcast on Wednesday, council leader Kevin Madge said: "We've tested the equipment and live links and all seems to be working well.

"We're looking forward to transmitting our first meeting and hope that people will take advantage of the opportunity to watch the meeting as it happens."

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