London Assembly member and Bexley Council member Gareth Bacon has responded to my request for clarification. Explaining that even though I’m only asking about a general principle as that principle relates to a current court case he couldn’t possibly comment. Now I’m not a lawyer (thankfully) but this level of “couldn’t possibly comment on a case before the courts” seems well let’s be generous and say a tad over precautionary at best.
“Dear A Voter,
Unfortunately you did not pay sufficient attention to my email, so I need to be explicitly clear in my response. It would be entirely inappropriate for me to make any comment relating to any issue, whether hypothetical or actual, relating to a case currently before the British courts.
Gareth Bacon AM”
Checking his first reply again I’m not quite sure how I was expected to get from hist can’t “comment in any detail” to can’t comment at all, but there you go. Just to keep things fair, my clarification e-mail is below:
“Dear Mr Bacon,
As I stated in my initial e-mail I am not asking you to comment on a particular case but on the general principle of if it is ever right for an elected body to use th courts or other means to prevent one of their constituents/members of the public from holding that body to account and commenting on it’s activities? My question as initially asked was:
“So I was wondering if you think it is ever appropriate that a local Council seek to prevent one of their constituents from writing about them in any form?”
I explicitly said I wasn’t asking for comment on the particular case, and I don’t believe that my question as asked required any level of detail so much as a general statement of principle.
So I ask again if in principle you believe that it is acceptable for an elected body to seek to prevent members of the public commenting on that bodies activities?
I am however impressed that he replies so quickly given the number of jobs he seems to hold down to take money from the tax payer.