Labor council with £ 2.8 million hole in its finances "found £ 300,000 to silence highly critical blogger 62"
- Sandwell Council in the West Midlands gave £ 300,000 to track a blogger
- Taxpayers' money was spent to remove blogs that had appeared on the council
- The Labor Council, with a budget deficit of £ 2.8 million, refused to say how much it had spent
A penniless Labor Council, with a £ 2.8 million hole in the budget, gave £ 300,000 to silence a blogger who was extremely critical of his work.
Sandwell Council, near Birmingham, had admitted to putting taxpayers' money aside to pursue blogger Julian Saunders, 62.
Former attorney, Sandwell Skidder's blog containing allegations about the council has been viewed 1.9 million times.
Mr Saunders who also ran a bus tour of the neighborhood and charged £ 3 to point out landmarks he alleged where the council's wrongdoing went, including town hall.
Former lawyer Julian Saunders has been the subject of a £ 300,000 fund set up by Sandwell Council to clean up allegations shared on his blog, the Sandwell Skidder
Last year, former council chairman Steve Eling attempted to arrest Mr Saunders, The Times reported.
Mr Eling, who resigned in 2019 after being suspended from the Labor Party, complained to police about the blog but was told not to waste time with the police.
Mr Saunders told The Times that he was involved in a legal battle with the council while trying to gain access to internal documents discussing it.
He believes the council has a fund, codenamed Time to Stop, "created with the aim of silencing it".
The local authority, which has seen four heads of state and government in the past two years, has now admitted that it has allocated £ 300,000 in its budget to "lead potential litigation" against the blogger.
It would not specify how much of that budget had been spent – but at least £ 50,000 was used for legal fees and outside advice.
Steve Eling, the former chairman of Sandwell Council, attempted to arrest the blogger but was told not to waste time with the police. Mr Eling resigned from the council in February 2019 after being suspended by the Labor Party
It refused to disclose when the fund was set up or who approved it.
The council said the fund was referring to due diligence towards its employees and would not make any further comments.
The Conservative MP from West Bromwich East said it was a waste of taxpayers' money, a point that Mr Saunders agreed to.
He said, "The fact that a labor council in a very deprived district can devote such a large amount of taxpayer money to pursuing this vengeance is really shocking and requires immediate investigation by the relevant authorities."