THE HERALD can disclose that a claim made by Carmarthenshire County Council Chief Executive Mark James CBE is – at best – mistaken.
Mr James told Wales Online that he had never received any offers of settlement in respect of a judgement for damages in his favour, following a libel action against Carmarthenshire blogger Jacqui Thompson.
The case against Mrs Thompson made headline news across Wales, after the Wales Audit Office ruled that the Council acted unlawfully in offering Mr James an indemnity against his costs spent in defending a libel action brought against him by Mrs Thompson and a countersuit the Chief Executive launched against the blogger.
In the article on Wales Online, Mrs Thompson set out how she had been visited by High Court Enforcement Officers, seeking to establish whether she had the wherewithal to pay off Mr James’s judgement against her.
She claimed that she had made offers to settle Mr James’s claim by payment of instalments.
Mr James is quoted as telling Wales Online: “Regrettably, Jacqui Thompson is once again not telling the truth unfortunately.
“She has refused point blank to pay anything. She has responded to my solicitor in writing saying she will never pay any of the damages and costs that the High Court awarded against her.
“Had she offered to pay in instalments, this action would not have been necessary. “Perhaps she will share with media written proof of her offer to pay in instalments? I would be most interested to see it.”
Herald columnist Cadno contacted Mrs Thompson and asked if she was prepared to back up her offers of instalments with proof they were made.
Mrs Thompson replied by sending Cadno two communications which made offers to pay off Mr James by instalments.
The first document – a copy of a letter dated March 22, 2013, is from Mrs Thompson’s then solicitors Simons Muirhead & Burton to Slater & Gordon.
That letter and its enclosure details Mrs Thompson’s financial affairs and makes an offer to pay Mr James £75 per month, which the letter describes as an offer which would ‘not create the inevitable risk of default’.
The letter acknowledges that a lump sum would be preferable, but states that Mrs Thompson’s ability to pay such a sum would be dependent on third party assistance, which could not be guaranteed.
That offer was an offer made in open correspondence. The second communication is an email to Messrs Ungoed Thomas and King of Carmarthen dated January 22, 2015.
That letter says: “I am unable to offer either a lump sum payment or anything more than token monthly instalments of around £20 per month. I have no income, no savings and am unable to obtain a loan or a mortgage.
“I believe your client is generally aware of my financial circumstances and that I am unable to discharge this debt to his satisfaction.”
The letter continues by stating: “Although I have very little to offer, I am more than happy to enter into negotiation, as invited by your client.”
We asked the Council to confirm that the statement from Mr James in Wales Online was accurately reported. We were sent a copy of Mr James’ statement to Wales Online by return and it is as one with as reported on the internet news outlet.
As both the content of the letters to Mr James’ solicitors are inconsistent with his account to Wales Online and repeated to us, Mr James’s position of absolute certainty that offers to settle were never made is in tatters.
As our columnist Cadno points out: ‘It matters not one ounce whether Mrs Thompson subsequently withdrew or amended those offers: Mr James’s claim is that they did not exist in any event … not that he rejected them, but that they were NEVER made’.
‘Knife attacker’ remanded into custody
A CARMARTHEN man accused of ‘repeatedly’ stabbing another man in Bridge Street on Friday (Dec 8) was remanded into custody until January.
Gareth George Edwards, 44, of Priory Street, indicated two guilty pleas to charges of maliciously wounding Michael Byard with the intent of causing grievous bodily harm and possessing a bladed article in a public place, namely a kitchen knife.
Representing Edwards, David Williams made no submissions at this stage.
No application for bail was made, and Edwards was remanded into custody until he appears at Swansea Crown Court on January 8.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “Following an incident in Bridge St, Carmarthen on Friday afternoon, Dec 8, at around 4.30pm, three people have been charged.
“A 44 year old man has been charged with Section 18 Assault and Possession of an Offensive Weapon and is due appear at Llanelli Magistrates court today, Dec 11.
“A 50 year old man has been charged with Common Assault and bailed to appear at Llanelli Magistrates Court on Thursday, Dec 28.
“A 43 year old woman has been charged with Assault and bailed to appear at Llanelli Magistrates Court on Thursday, Dec 28.”
Snow causes school closures across county
SEVERAL snows across Carmarthenshire are closed today (Dec 11) as heavy snowfall overnight has caused hazardous conditions.
The current list of schools closed in Carmarthenshire this morning consists of:
- Brynasaron (Llangeler)
- Cae’r Felin
- Carreg Hirfaen
- Rhys Prichard Llandovery
- Talley / Talyllychau
All of the closures cite snow as the reason.
The council’s website states for Talley / Talyllychau: “The majority of staff are unable to make it in, plus the taxi service have informed us that they are unable to collect the children from the most rural areas.”
Over the weekend a weather warning was issues for the majority of the UK as snow fell and temperatures dropped.
You can check the status of your child’s school on the Carmarthenshire County Council website: http://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/residents/education-schools/emergency-school-closures#.Wi5Sokpl_IU
Christmas parcel delivered to Glangwilli Hospital
BLISS, the UK’s leading premature and sick baby charity, has donated Christmas parcels to every neonatal unit in Wales – including Glangwilli Hospital – to make sure that babies and their parents know that they are not alone this Christmas.
The Christmas gifts will arrive at the neonatal units this week and will be distributed by unit staff and volunteers.
The parcels, which also contain gifts for parents, comprise of: a Bliss teddy bear, dungarees, photo frame, children’s book, snacks and toiletries. The parcel includes additional information about the support parents can receive from Bliss. The majority of these gifts have been donated by Bliss’ corporate partners including Pampers, Mothercare, Barnack Confectionary and Mush.
Caroline Lee-Davey, Chief Executive at Bliss said: “Having a baby on the neonatal unit can be an isolating experience for parents – especially at Christmas. We hope through this small gesture, we can let parents know that they aren’t alone.
“Bliss would like to thank all of our corporate partners who helped to make this project possible. We hope that if the scheme is successful we will be able to roll the Christmas parcels out nationwide in future to reach all parents with a baby in neonatal care at Christmas.”
Head of Nursing for Children’s Services for NHS Wales Eirlys Thomas said: “On behalf of all the parents and babies we would like to thank Bliss for their kind donations. They will certainly cheer up all the parents who will need to spend Christmas in hospital with their babies.”
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