Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Former Council Leader Receives An Apology & A Substantial Sum in Damages


Above: Mr. Theobald in the Council Chamber when he was
Leader of West Lindsey District Council
The Lincolnshire Echo has today published an apology to Mr. Bernard Theobald, the one-time Leader of West Lindsey District Council, for linking information about the council's operations, a planning application by Mr. Theobald and the dismissal of a member of the planning department. The paper summerised there apology saying:
"We apologise unreservedly to Mr Theobald for any distress or embarrassment caused by this error."
Although the periodical spent, however, the preceding seven paragraphs quantifying their apology and blaming a press release from the Council; apparently the connection between 'potential fraud and mismanagement' and Mr. Theobald's planning application was made, relying on a press release from West Lindsey District Council dated 24th September 2009.

Mr. Theobald, who was singer Barbara Dickson's manager before entering politics, brought proceedings in the High Court, in London. The former Leader of West Lindsey District Council and Chairman of the Planning Committee, was caused serious distress and embarrassment by the stories, said his counsel, Mr. Ronald Thwaites QC. The first article appeared in December 2009 and alleged there were good and solid reasonable grounds to suspect Mr. Theobald had committed fraud in relation to the application, which he had made the previous June. Three days later, the allegation was repeated and it was also claimed that Mr. Theobald had lied in denying the newspaper's claim that his planning application had resulted in a council officer's suspension and investigation by the Audit Commission. A third article appeared in January 2010.

Mr. Thwaites said:
"There was nothing to justify the allegations as published. The allegations made against Mr Theobald were completely false and should never have been published."
On behalf of the publisher, Mr. Manuel Barca QC, said it apologised 'fully and unreservedly' for the publication of the false allegations. It is understood that they have agreed to pay Mr. Theobald a substantial, yet undisclosed, sum in compensation and his legal costs.

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