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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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Drink driver hospitalised and arrested

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A MAN who was hospitalised after crashing his car on the B4310, Drefach, has also been arrested for drink driving.

The crash, which happened in the early hours of Sunday morning (Feb 18), destroyed the Mercedes he was driving.

He hit a van which was parked outside of a property, which was also damaged.

Dyfed-Powys Police, Welsh Ambulance Service, and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service personnel attended the scene.

A spokesman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to reports of a road traffic collision at 12.50am on Sunday morning on the B4310 in Drefach.

“We sent crews from Pontyates and Tumble at the scene and one male was cut out of a car using hydraulic cutting equipment and taken to hospital.”

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‘Connecting Carmarthenshire’ campaign takes a leap forward

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Making progress: Jonathan Edwards MP, Adam Price AM and Geraint Trello

EFFORTS to improve the availability of high speed internet and good mobile phone signal took a leap forward this week as EE sets about switching on new mobile phone masts and launches its 4G Home Broadband solution.

Representatives of EE came to Carmarthenshire this weekend to meet with Member of Parliament, Jonathan Edwards and Assembly Member, Adam Price who have led a ‘Connecting Carmarthenshire’ campaign.

Their meeting, which took place near the site of one of two new mobile phone masts near Abergorlech, focused on the upgrades and improvements the company is undertaking across rural Carmarthenshire, with a particular focus on EE’s new 4G Home Broadband solution which can provide superfast broadband via an antenna on the house – a solution EE says could help around 580,000 homes nationwide gain access to high speed connectivity.

The Plaid Cymru politicians said the new improved mobile signal was itself “a big advancement”, but said the launch of the 4G antenna was “a leap forward” for connecting rural Carmarthenshire communities.

Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said: “It was a pleasure to welcome EE to Carmarthenshire and continue our discussions on improving connectivity in rural Wales. One new mast will be switched on in Abergorlech in a matter of weeks, with another new mast for the Llansawel region with us later in the year.

“These new masts add to the 27 4G upgrades EE has carried out to existing sites in Carmarthenshire over the last 12 months, providing better coverage for rural communities including Llanybydder, Pencader and Llanarthne, adding to the upgrades from other mobile phone giants across the county.

“Perhaps the most impressive news this week is the launch of EE’s Home Broadband solution which, with the use of a small antenna on the home, can bring superfast broadband to the house. This looks like it could be the answer for many properties which have been left behind during the fixed line upgrades, or where they can only receive slower fixed broadband speeds.

“It’s not for an elected representative to promote a particular private company, but where there appears to be a solution for so many properties to get high speed internet, I have no problem in promoting the product – particularly because when it was trialed it delivered speeds over 100Mbps! This is a giant leap forward.

“Connecting Carmarthenshire is really starting to see positive results, but I’ll keep on working to ensure everyone I represent achieves good connectivity.”

Assembly Member Adam Price said: “The new sites in the Abergorlech area are the latest in a long time of upgrades in recent months, with the added bonus of those mobile signals being used for superfast internet in the home.

“Given that various grants for broadband solutions are available from the Welsh Government, we believe those who can’t get access to fixed broadband connections or receive a glacial pace connection may well be able to receive a grant to have products like 4G Home Broadband installed at their homes.

“I’d encourage anyone who is interested in a grant to cover the costs of delivering a step change in their broadband speeds to visit the Welsh Government’s website to check eligibility, or contact Jonathan and I where we can send information to them directly.

“More and more people across our Carmarthen East and Dinefwr constituency are seeing the benefits of good mobile phone signal and much faster broadband. We’ve still got a little way to go, but local residents are seeing big advancements. We’re delighted the Connecting Carmarthenshire campaign is delivering tangible results for the county.”

On the launch of EE’s 4G Home Broadband solution, Max Taylor, Managing Director of Marketing, EE said: “As our network continues to expand into some of the most remote parts of the UK, we’ve seen the amazing impact that 4G connectivity can have on rural communities. Our newest 4G home broadband router and antenna takes this one step further, ensuring thousands of families in rural areas across the UK could enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband inside their home for the very first time – whether video-calling the grandparents or streaming their favourite TV series.”

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4.4 magnitude earthquake felt across Wales

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AN earthquake of 4.4 magnitude has been felt across Wales and England this afternoon (Feb 17).

There are numerous reports of the earthquake being felt across west Wales, including Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The earthquake originated near Swansea, where it is was felt strongest, at around 2:30pm.

However, the earthquake was felt across Wales, and many parts of England.

The EMSC, an independent monitor of earthquakes, said: “Latest update of the effects of the #earthquake in #Swansea region. Was felt up to 300 km from epicentre.”

Dyfed-Powys Police received many reports about the incident, but said that there was no need for concern, and that they felt it themselves in their control room.

The police force said: “We are receiving an extremely high call volume reporting some sort of earth tremor in the area – we are receiving reports from across the whole of Wales (we felt it in our control room too!). For now – it is unexplained – but there is nothing to worry about.”

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