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Council leader facing legal action over "defamatory" blog post
THE leader of Christchurch council is facing legal action over claims he wrote a “defamatory” blog post.
Cllr Ray Nottage’s blog post from January 14 has landed the leader in hot water after local businessman Dr Alistair Somerville-Ford instructed his lawyers to start legal proceedings over the post.
Despite Dr Somerville-Ford asking for an apology to be published on the blog, the leader failed to meet the deadline in which to apologise.
Dr Somerville-Ford, who is working with the Friends of Druitt Hall, has offered funding to keep the existing Druitt Hall running, while a new facility is built.
He has appointed a board of trustees to run Druitt Hall and is currently working on a business plan for the community hall.
He said: “On January 14, I received a number of calls from members of the local community who advised me that Cllr Nottage had produced a blog in which he made a number of clearly defamatory statements about me and my motives for supporting the Friends of Druitt Hall.
“I can only assume that the comments on his blog were motivated by his dislike for anyone who had the effrontery to challenging his authority.
“I instructed my lawyers to issue a letter before action in which he was asked to provide an apology for his comments and to publish it on his blog.
“He has failed to do so and as a result, my lawyers have been instructed to commence legal action against him for defamation.”
When he was contacted by the Daily Echo, Cllr Nottage would only state that he did not know anything about the legal action.
Dr Ford was a member of the original steering committee set-up 20 years ago to discuss issues with Christchurch town centre, including Druitt Hall.
In May last year he was approached by two local users of the hall, who were trying to stop the council from closing and demolishing the facility.
He pledged his support and after a long fight between supporters and the council, the first meeting of the newly-formed Druitt Hall Association took place with the local authority last week.