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Court case: additional press statement (updated 14/02/2022)

Councillors and democracy

14 January 2022

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The Leader of North Northamptonshire Council, Councillor Jason Smithers issued a statement last week that said:

"East Northamptonshire Council’s decision to prosecute Dr Monks in relation to the Snooty Fox were an abuse of process and should never have occurred. It is accepted that East Northamptonshire Council’s actions caused serious personal injury, loss, and damage to him over a period of more than 20 years, and I sincerely apologise for those actions. I hope that Dr Monks is able to have his reputation restored and that the substantial damages which the Council has agreed to pay to him go some way towards assisting him to move forward with his life."

Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council

Further to this statement, and in response to media reports and queries the Council has received on this issue, Councillor Jason Smithers has made the following additional statement:

"I would like to clarify that the prosecution of the claimant and its impact on him is reflected in the settlement which was reached and followed advice from highly experienced, external legal counsel.  The Council has used the democratic process to consider this difficult situation, holding two extraordinary Council meetings where the matter was debated and discussed by elected members, supported by external legal advice leading to the Council’s decision.
In settling the Claim, the Council has agreed to make, in open court, an apology to Dr Monks in which it will recognise that, in its view, prosecuting Dr Monks in relation to the Snooty Fox Public House was an abuse of the process of the court and should never have occurred and that this caused serious personal injury, loss and damage to Dr Monks. However, that does not mean that the Council  admits each and every allegation made by Dr Monks. In particular, it does not mean that the Council admits any of the allegations, made in the Claim and elsewhere, of personal impropriety or personal animus against the former Chief Executive of East Northants Council, Mr Roger Heath. The Council has seen no evidence which would substantiate those allegations.

North Northamptonshire Council has seen no evidence to suggest that Miss Lawrence had any form of personal or sexual relationship with Mr. Heath, or anyone else associated with East Northamptonshire Council, or anyone associated with any decision to investigate or prosecute Dr Monks. Further, no allegation was pleaded in the claim brought by Dr Monks against East Northamptonshire Council that the decision to prosecute Dr Monks was motivated by any such relationship.*

The Council has made every effort to balance the need to protect public money, whilst at the same time, ensure that it does the right thing and compensates someone who has suffered serious personal injury, loss and damage over a significant period of time.
The cost of the £4 million settlement reached will be met from earmarked reserves from the legacy East Northamptonshire Council. The cost does not form part of the Council Tax requirement, and it will not be a further charge to residents.
I feel that it is important to point out that North Northamptonshire Council has implemented processes to prevent a similar incident being repeated. The Council will however keep an open mind as to the lessons that it can learn.
Regarding any historic abuse of process, I have made it clear that the Council will cooperate fully with the Police should they determine that any criminal offence may have been committed in the past in relation to this matter. At this stage I have no further comments to add to this statement but I hope this helps explain the Council’s position."

Cllr Jason Smithers, Leader of the Council

*This statement was updated on 14 February 2022.