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“Dysfunctional" council threatens to sue community news website
A community news website has been threatened with legal action for publishing letters that criticise a council.
Seaford Town Council leader Ian White demanded the administrator of Haven News removes letters that commented on how the council had been run over the past months.
The council was recently accused of being “dysfunctional and out of control” by MP for Lewes Norman Baker following several claims of bullying and infighting among councillors and staff.
Calls from Mr Baker to suspend the town clerk were discussed at a closed council meeting on Tuesday night, when councillors voted to keep the clerk in her post.
One letter published online described the council as a “shambles”. Coun White contacted the website and asked for letters to be removed because they were defamatory.
Andy Foulks, 59, of Seaford Road, Newhaven, started Haven News as a hobby to keep his community up to date with local events.
He said the letters published on his website were “points of view” and “fair comment” that the council had every right to reply to.
He added: “After weeks of chaos at the council I do not know what on earth they are thinking trying to intimidate a resident who runs a com- munity news website on a voluntary basis.
“There are better ways for the council to spend its time and money than suing Haven News.
“I was e-mailed by Ian White and told to remove four letters.”
Other town councillors have questioned why a threat of legal action was made without prior consultation.
Sam Adeniji, Lewes District and Seaford Town councillor, said: “The threat was made without approval of the council or appropriate committee.
“I have written to Seaford Town Council wanting to know why the threat of legal action was made with- out following due procedure.”
Coun White, who is also vice-chairman of Lewes District Council, said he would not comment.