Following on from a series of requests from a group of Councillors Rutlands Council are considering if they will bring a claim for defamation against as a result of allegations made by three independents who call themselves Rutland Anti-Corruption Group (RACP).
Lawyers said the council's reputation had been damaged and suggested they could sue under the Localism Act 2011. The group said that Councillors Richard Gale, Nick Wainwright and David Richardson, said they had established RACP to hold the Conservative-controlled council to account on a number of issues.
But the leader of the council Roger Begy said the volume of requests for information was "costly and pointless", and, after a full council meeting in October, the authority commissioned a report by lawyers Bevan Brittan.
Rutland Anti-Corruption Group claim that they were simply doing their job - looking for openness and transparency and asking legitimate questions about council business. Amember of the group stated "The fact is, we are elected by the people, we are elected by them to represent them and to do the best for them. We can only do that if we have the proper information in front of us."
But leader of the council Mr Begy said he wished to put a stop to the "costly and pointless" requests.
He said: "We have a group of people making wild accusations and costing our authority a great deal of money, trying to find something that they believe is there that isn't." Rutland County Council also suggests the group's correspondence could be seen as becoming personal, persistent and even defamatory. The authority says it's as open as any other council and has nothing to hide. But leader of the council Mr Begy said he wished to put a stop to the "costly and pointless" requests. We have a group of people making wild accusations and costing our authority a great deal of money, trying to find something that they believe is there that isn't."
It will be interesting to see how this story develops and we will revist it once the special full report is released on Thursday. Perhaps of specific interest is that whilst once the preserve of individuals, the Localism Act could now extend that to local government bodies. The defamation action would be possible thanks to the Localism Act 2011 which grants local authorities the power to act like an individual. Look out for a post in the week looking at the legal position.