Rutland Council chief executive may sue councillors

Councillors Richard Gale, David Richardson and Nicholas Wainwright UKIP councillors Richard Gale, David Richardson and Nicholas Wainwright were previously known as the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group

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A council chief executive has promised she will take legal action against three councillors if they do not "improve their behaviour".

Rutland County Council has voted to back several officers against UKIP councillors Richard Gale, David Richardson and Nicholas Wainwright.

They are alleged to have made defamatory statements on a website and harassed staff in a series of emails.

The three men have not responded to requests to speak to the BBC.

Rutland saga timeline

  • 8 October 2012 - County council votes to investigate activities of the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group
  • 17 October 2012 - Law firm Bevan Brittan commissioned to investigate
  • January 2013 - Report published and advises council it could sue the three councillors and take out an injunction under the new Localism Act
  • 10 January - council votes to take action
  • 17 January - in a statement in Parliament, Lord McNally said a council could not sue under a principle established in 1993
  • June - the three councillors switch to UKIP
  • 29 July - council votes to pay legal fees for officers to sue the councillors and gives the group a week to apologise
  • August - the group writes to the council but does not apologise

But they told the Stamford Mercury they had taken legal advice which said they had no case to defend.

Chief Executive Helen Briggs said she would not let the councillors "disrupt" the council.

The three men previously went under the name the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group, but became the first UKIP councillors in the county when they joined the party in June.

No apology

The council has agreed to fund any legal action taken by its officers against the trio after lawyers suggested they had a strong case for defamation.

An apology and retraction was demanded from the group which, the council said, had yet to be received.

Speaking at a full council meeting this week, Ms Briggs said: "I will not allow these three councillors, or anyone else for that matter, to continue to disrupt the effective operation of this council, and me as its chief executive.

"You have given me a clear mandate to bring proceedings for defamation in my own name.

"Before doing so, I intend to allow these three councillors a short period of time to show whether they can moderate their recent behaviour, and operate as councillors would be expected to, but I shall not hesitate in commencing proceedings unless there is a marked improvement in their behaviour."

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