The council is unable to tell anyone precisely how it has spent, or intends to spend, £tens of millions of Covid-19 grants already given to them by the government.
Then, last Thursday, a highly critical report about the dreadful accounting methods of Somerset’s Highways department was discussed by the Audit Committee. I offered my view in Parliament – it went along these lines:
“If it walks like a scandal and talks like a scandal then chances are it is a scandal “
I criticised the council in the House of Commons and voiced exactly the same views outside the place.
Inevitably supporters have leapt to county hall’s defence. They suggest I am sheltering behind the safety blanket of Parliamentary Privilege, able to say what I like because the rules prevent me from being taken to court.
They are factually mistaken and deserve to be corrected. I am happy to do so here.
In simple terms it is impossible for an organisation like Somerset County Council to take any legal action against me for what I say about the antics of this accident-prone local authority.
I am not being protected by Parliament.
We all have the right to criticise our council with absolute impunity.
The laws of defamation were devised to protect individual people who are named and shamed.
Nobody can libel a county council.
Somerset County Council is fair game – and richly deserves it.