The Argus“Dysfunctional" council threatens to sue community news website (From The Argus)

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“Dysfunctional" council threatens to sue community news website

The Argus: MP for Lewes Norman Baker has called Seaford Town Council "dysfunctional" MP for Lewes Norman Baker has called Seaford Town Council "dysfunctional"

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.

Comments (11)

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3:19pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Richada says...

Disgraceful that the council seeks to gag those writing letters commenting on the administrations of a publicly elected body.

Ian White should consider himself fortunate to live in a country where free speech is permitted.
Disgraceful that the council seeks to gag those writing letters commenting on the administrations of a publicly elected body. Ian White should consider himself fortunate to live in a country where free speech is permitted. Richada
  • Score: 43

3:24pm Thu 13 Feb 14

FC says...

So...

...no more free speech then?

Disgraceful.
So... ...no more free speech then? Disgraceful. FC
  • Score: 42

4:02pm Thu 13 Feb 14

ThinkBrighton says...

Ian White What a nasty power crazy man - The term large chip small shoulder
comes to mind
I bet he won't ring the Argus and have these comments removed, what a coward!
Ian White What a nasty power crazy man - The term large chip small shoulder comes to mind I bet he won't ring the Argus and have these comments removed, what a coward! ThinkBrighton
  • Score: 19

4:02pm Thu 13 Feb 14

clubrob6 says...

Those in power spending public money should not stop comments because they don't agree with them.It is supposed to be a country of free speech but that is no longer the case if someone speaks against the powers that be or even think of saying certain words such as immigration they are classed as trouble makers.This is why our country is in a mess now as everyone has got to stick by the politically correct view instead of speaking the truth.It stems right to the very top very soon the government who took several weeks to wake up to the suffering of flood and storm victims will clamp down on people telling the truth and will blame everyone but themselves.When people threaten action such as in this article it usually means they don't want the public to know whats really going on.
Those in power spending public money should not stop comments because they don't agree with them.It is supposed to be a country of free speech but that is no longer the case if someone speaks against the powers that be or even think of saying certain words such as immigration they are classed as trouble makers.This is why our country is in a mess now as everyone has got to stick by the politically correct view instead of speaking the truth.It stems right to the very top very soon the government who took several weeks to wake up to the suffering of flood and storm victims will clamp down on people telling the truth and will blame everyone but themselves.When people threaten action such as in this article it usually means they don't want the public to know whats really going on. clubrob6
  • Score: 24

4:06pm Thu 13 Feb 14

JerryOnly says...

FC wrote:
So...

...no more free speech then?

Disgraceful.
You see, the Nazis don't like it when their balls-ups are aired out for the world to see, and would rather your pesky freedom of speech didn't spoil the lucrative party or expose the deep-seated arrogance and idiocy.

Let them carry on with their legal battle. Then when they lose, are nationally embarrassed for it, and unceremoniously deposed from their seats we can publish EVEN MORE letters on how they wasted your hard-earned tax money on trying to wriggle out of it.
[quote][p][bold]FC[/bold] wrote: So... ...no more free speech then? Disgraceful.[/p][/quote]You see, the Nazis don't like it when their balls-ups are aired out for the world to see, and would rather your pesky freedom of speech didn't spoil the lucrative party or expose the deep-seated arrogance and idiocy. Let them carry on with their legal battle. Then when they lose, are nationally embarrassed for it, and unceremoniously deposed from their seats we can publish EVEN MORE letters on how they wasted your hard-earned tax money on trying to wriggle out of it. JerryOnly
  • Score: 19

4:07pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Andy R says...

It was well-established that a public body cannot sue for libel, when the House of Lords ruled that Derbyshire County Council couldn't sue The Times. There is some argument that Pickles' wonderful Localism Act has overturned this, but it has not been tested. An individual officer or councillor could do it if they had personally been defamed.

I'd suggest calling blustering White's bluff. The idea that calling a council a "shambles" is defamatory is absurd - it's just a comment. Can you imagine The Argus being sued because it published a letter from a reader calling BHCC a shambles or incompetent?
It was well-established that a public body cannot sue for libel, when the House of Lords ruled that Derbyshire County Council couldn't sue The Times. There is some argument that Pickles' wonderful Localism Act has overturned this, but it has not been tested. An individual officer or councillor could do it if they had personally been defamed. I'd suggest calling blustering White's bluff. The idea that calling a council a "shambles" is defamatory is absurd - it's just a comment. Can you imagine The Argus being sued because it published a letter from a reader calling BHCC a shambles or incompetent? Andy R
  • Score: 14

4:07pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Fight_Back says...

I'm glad I don't live in Seaford when you have little Nazis like Ian White on the council. He makes Jason Kitcat look a professional councillor.
I'm glad I don't live in Seaford when you have little Nazis like Ian White on the council. He makes Jason Kitcat look a professional councillor. Fight_Back
  • Score: 13

4:37pm Thu 13 Feb 14

SGK2000 says...

The soap opera that is STC deserves a bigger audience. I love a political farce.
The soap opera that is STC deserves a bigger audience. I love a political farce. SGK2000
  • Score: 12

4:41pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Richada says...

SGK2000 wrote:
The soap opera that is STC deserves a bigger audience. I love a political farce.
By the sound of things, if Mr White had his way, you'd never get to enjoy it!
[quote][p][bold]SGK2000[/bold] wrote: The soap opera that is STC deserves a bigger audience. I love a political farce.[/p][/quote]By the sound of things, if Mr White had his way, you'd never get to enjoy it! Richada
  • Score: 8

5:02pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Seaford666 says...

Take a look at Seaford Notice Board on Facebook - this is only the half of it!
Take a look at Seaford Notice Board on Facebook - this is only the half of it! Seaford666
  • Score: 2

7:22pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Sussex jim says...

When it comes to dysfunctional and out of control, Norman Baker fits this description perfectly.
When it comes to dysfunctional and out of control, Norman Baker fits this description perfectly. Sussex jim
  • Score: -3

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