Council allocates £90k to sue its own members

A Conservative-controlled council is to sue three of its own members claiming they have damaged its reputation.

Rutland County Council voted on Thursday to set aside £90,000 for legal action against Councillors Nick Wainwright, Richard Gale and David Richardson.

The three members of the Rutland Anti-Corruption group (RACP) are accused of using defamatory language in emails.

Council leader Roger Begy said it was a “black night for the council”.

‘Proper information’

In October a firm of lawyers was brought in to advise the council over a series of email requests by the RACP for information about the authority’s actions.

Mr Begy told the BBC the requests were “costly and pointless”.

“We have a group of people making wild accusations and costing our authority a great deal of money, trying to find out something that they believe is there that isn’t,” he said.

The legal advice claimed the authority could sue for defamation under the Localism Act 2011 which grants local authorities the power to act like an individual rather than a corporate body.

The allegedly defamatory statements were made in emails which every council member received.

It is understood some senior council officers have also been advised that they have grounds for legal action.

The authority was told a number of the emails could be construed as harassment and could be reported to the police.

But speaking to the BBC earlier this month, RACP member Mr Richardson denied the group’s members had done anything wrong.

He said the group had to ask questions in order to carry out their job.

“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,” said Mr Richardson.

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