Blogger Jacqui Thompson denied right to appeal

TOWY Valley blogger Jacqui Thompson has suffered a setback in her legal fight against a court ruling that she engaged in a "campaign of harrassment" against the chief executive of Carmarthernshire County Council.

Mrs Thompson, 50, from Llanwrda, sued council chief Mark James and the county council, over comments he made in the aftermath of her arrest over the filming of a council meeting in June 2011, and he in turn sued her for posts published on her blog.

Following a hearing at London's High Court in February, Mr Justice Tugendhat dismissed Mrs Thompson's claim and upheld Mr James' counterclaim for libel, finding she had run a campaign of "harassment, defamation and intimidation" against him and other council staff.

The ruling left her with a £25,000 bill for damages and she was ordered to pay legal costs of about £230,000.

Mrs Thompson was later granted permission to challenge one aspect of the judgment, relating to the meaning of a post on her blog from March 2011, which referred to a "slush fund" and which the High Court judge found was defamatory.

But she was today denied the right to appeal against other aspects of the ruling – including the decision to award "aggravated damages" to Mr James.

Lawyers for Mrs Thompson had argued that some of the High Court judge's findingswere wrong and that there was not enough evidence for him to conclude her primary motive was to "injure" Mr James' reputation.

They also argued the judge was wrong to find Mr James' letter had the protection of qualified privilege and said that some of his comments went "far beyond" what was necessary to respond to the criticism of the filming incident.

But, refusing Mrs Thompson permission to appeal on those grounds, Lord Justice Christopher Clarke said the judge was entitled to reach the conclusions he did and there was "no realistic prospect" of an appeal on these matters succeeding.

No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing on the ground relating to the March 2011 blog post.

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