CARMARTHENSHIRE county council leader Kevin Madge has declined to make a statement on the two allegedly unlawful payments relating to chief executive Mark James at this morning's meeting of full council.

PLaid Cymru councillors had yesterday demanded a statement, arguing that in view of the "potentially grave" nature of the allegations, members needed to know what was going on.

But, in an email to Plaid Cymru leader Peter Hughes-Griffiths, Cllr Madge said the fact an official press statement had been released on September 26 meant members were not unaware of the situation, which remained unchanged.

"You will appreciate that this is fundamentally an issue of interpretation of the two seemingly conflicting legal opinions," he added. "I understand that the Wales Audit Office have been looking further into their own advice and there is to be a meeting next week between the council and the WAO to try to understand and resolve the differing legal points of view.

"In this context I do not think it would be advisable for me to make a statement until I have received a report of this forthcoming meeting.

I also do not think that this matter would qualify as ‘urgent’ business since there is no action or decision to be taken at this time and there has been no recent development since it was considered by the Audit Committee.

"Once we have had the scheduled meeting with the Wales Audit Office we will know more as to how the matters can be resolved and I will ensure that members are kept informed."

The WAO are scrutinising the granting of a £23,217 indemnity to pay for chief executive Mark James' legal costs in his libel case and counter claim against Towy Valley blogger Jacqui Thompson along with renumeration totalling £16,353 paid to him in lieu of employer pension contributions.

THe county council maintain that the two transactions were lawful.