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Blogger faces losing home.

Byline: Rachael Misstear West Wales Editor

ABLOGGER who lost a High Court libel case against a council's chief executive says she has been given until next Friday to arrange payment of damages and costs of more than PS250,000 - or face losing her home.

Carmarthenshire council chief executive Mark James has been granted a Charging Order on Jacqui Thompson's home for his libel damages arising from his own unlawfully funded counterclaim.

After losing the case in March 2013, she is due to pay damages of PS25,000 and legal costs estimated at more than PS250,000 It follows the judgement in London's High Court by Mr Justice Tugendhat, who dismissed Mrs Thompson's claim in its entirety and upheld Mr James's counter-claim for libel, awarding him PS25,000 damages. Claims of corruption made against Mr James by Mrs Thompson were dismissed.

She had sued him for comments about her he made on the "Mad Axeman" blog. The council agreed to underwrite Mr James' legal costs on the basis that he was being sued in his capacity as an officer of the authority. Controversially, the council also agreed to underwrite the costs of a counterclaim against Mrs Thompson initiated by Mr James.

In September 2013 Assistant Auditor General for Wales Anthony Barrett published a public interest report in which he said the council acted unlawfully in underwriting Mr James' counterclaim. But the damages and costs awarded to Mr James still stand and an Order has been sent by his solicitors to Ms Thompson this week. Ms Thompson from Llanwrda near Llandeilo could be forced out of her home and the property seized for its assets.

"Mark James has given me until next Friday, January 16 to make proposals to pay his damages, or else I presume he will try and force the sale of my home.

"The last time there were any negotiations (before the appeal) he refused to accept less than PS200 per month The interest is PS166 per month. I'm determined to fight as far as I can - these damages arose from the unlawfully funded counter-claim."

In May, after Mrs Thompson lost her appeal against the libel judgement, Mr James said: "I am 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."


Mark James <B

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 10, 2015
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