South West Wales

Blogger Jacqui Thompson loses £25k libel award appeal

Mark James and Jacqui Thompson Image copyright Other
Image caption Mark James won a libel action against blogger Jacqui Thompson last year

A blogger who was arrested for filming a council's meeting has lost her appeal against being told to pay its chief executive £25,000 in libel damages.

Jacqui Thompson, from Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, was sued by Mark James over five posts she made on her blog.

Mrs Thompson also faces a £230,000 legal bill after losing a bid to sue Mr James for libel.

Mr James said he was pleased that the Appeal Court had "dismissed completely" Mrs Thompson's case.

The legal spat developed in June 2011 after Mrs Thompson was removed from a council meeting and arrested after refusing to stop filming it.

The case led to a critical report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) after Carmarthenshire council indemnified Mr James in his libel counter-claim against Mrs Thompson.

Carmarthenshire has paid out more than £26,000 in external legal costs since 2012 under the decision.

A WAO report found that Carmarthenshire council's decision to pay the court costs of its chief executive in the case was unlawful.

The council said it had taken external legal advice and had consulted the WAO prior to deciding to cover Mr James's court costs. It said the WAO had not raised concerns at that time.

In February councillors agreed to accept the WAO findings but they have not withdrawn the indemnity provision.

Announcing on Wednesday that she had lost her appeal, Mrs Thompson said she found the judgement against her a "miscarriage of justice which I cannot accept but will have to live with".

In a statement via Carmarthenshire council, Mr James said: "I am obviously pleased that Mrs Thompson's appeal was dismissed completely, and that the court agreed with the original judgement and views of the judge. They also awarded her to pay further costs for the appeal.

'Harassment and defamation'

"Mrs Thompson has conducted a long-running campaign of harassment and defamation.

"It is time Mrs Thompson finally realised that she has done wrong, has been found by the High Court and Court of Appeal to have done wrong and cease her pointless campaign against the council and its officers."

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