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CEO’s libel settlement claims untrue

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Jacqui Thompson: Provided proof offers to settle were made

Jacqui Thompson: Provided proof offers to settle were made

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’.

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Road closed in both directions following collision between car and tractor

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THERE was a collision between a car and a tractor with a trailer at just past 12am today (Friday, June 21).

The road was closed in both directions from St Clears to Carmarthen while emergency services dealt with the incident.

Two men – the driver and passenger of the car – have been taken to hospital. One is in a critical but stable condition.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, who hasn’t already spoken to the police, is asked to contact the serious collision investigation unit at Dyfed-Powys Police on 101.

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Parc Howard shortlisted for national award

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PARC HOWARD has been shortlisted for the prestigious Family Friendly Museum Award.

Charity Kids in Museums awards the prize annually to one museum, gallery, historic home or heritage site in the UK that goes the extra mile to provide a great experience for families.

Throughout April and May, families across the country voted for their favourite heritage attraction on the Kids in Museums website. It is the only museum award to be judged by families.

A panel of museum experts whittled down over 800 nominations to a shortlist of 15.

The museum will now be visited by undercover family judges who will assess the museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto. Their experiences will decide a winner for each award category and an overall winner, our Family Friendly Museum of the Year 2019.

The council’s executive board member for cultural services, Cllr Peter Hughes-Griffiths said: “It really is exciting times for Parc Howard Museum. To have been nominated for such a prestigious award is just superb and is testament to the family friendly environment we have been working to create within the museum.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London in October.

Emmajane Avery, Chair of Kids in Museums, said: “It’s great to see Parc Howard Museum on the shortlist for this year’s Family Friendly Museum Award. To make it to the shortlist in our most competitive year yet is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the hard work staff have put in to create an enjoyable experience for families. We were inspired by how this ambitious museum works with community organisations to bring the museum to families on a low income. We wish the museum the best of luck in the next round of judging.”

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Trimsaran: Man charged with offences relating to explosives and poisons

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57-year-old man who was arrested at an address in Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire on Tuesday 11 June has been charged with offences relating to explosives and poisons.

Russell Wadge of Baglan Farm, Trimsaran will appear before Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Wednesday (Jun 19) charged with one offence contrary to section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act of 1883 and four offences contrary section 3 of the Poisons Act 1972.

A police spokesperson told The Herald: “Officers from the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU) supported by Dyfed Powys Police, West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and partner agencies executed a search warrant at an address near Trimsaran where a specialist search took place after chemicals were found at the premises.

“There was no risk to neighbouring properties or to the general public. While a search of the property has concluded, a police cordon remains in place.”

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