A TOWN council won’t apologise about a leaked internal email which slammed former mayors.

The email sent to Lydney Town Council members was seen by former mayor Brian Pearman, who quit the council last August over the way it was running.

He wrote to the council claiming the email, which included a comment from Cllr Zac Arnold regarding “the third law-breaking mayor in 12 years”, was defamatory.

Current town mayor Cllr Walter Leach told Monday’s (January 13) monthly council meeting Mr Pearman had “taken strong issue” with the comments, but the council would not apologise and if he wanted to “raise a case of defamation”, that was up to him.

Mr Pearman’s letter, read at the meeting, said: “I take strong issue with the comment ‘a third law-breaking mayor in 12 months’.

“Since there is a meeting of the council on Monday 13th, I request that this email is taken as ‘formal correspondence’ and an apology issued by Cllr Zac Arnold which should be made public.

“I also expect a positive response from the council, as a corporate body, of which this person is a member to both myself and former mayor Bob Berryman.

“I advise you of the severity of the council wishing to support ‘a third law-breaking mayor in 12 months’.

“Regardless of your opinion on the substance of the original issue, this council cannot support the breach of human rights and the breaking of laws – again.”

Cllr Leach told councillors: “He (Mr Pearman) is claiming that there is a case for defamation regarding this.

“What is interesting with this is that Zac’s email was purely sent to the internal councillors’ email addresses, it was not sent to any external email addresses whatsover.

“So it raises the question, which I’ve asked, how did it become in the public domain, because it does mean that a councillor somewhere around here has leaked that to the public.”

He said email accounts of ex-councillors, including Carol Harris and Harry Ives who also resigned in August, had not been accessed for months.

“Even though they are on the (council) system, their accounts have been disabled from receiving new emails, so we know that is not how it happened (the leaked email).

“It must have happened by a councillor printing it or giving it or forwarding it through another way.

“It makes life so difficult because, when we come to the confidential section and I want to share stuff with you guys (councillors), it means I cannot trust that what I am sharing will not go straight into the hands of the other party.

“That makes me look like I am trying to withhold information,” he added.

“From that point of view, we need to get a tighter grip on this, because it damages us in so many ways that we cannot trust our colleagues around the table.”

The mayor said: “The response to this (letter) is quite simple. If Mr Pearman wishes to raise a case of defamation, that is up to him.”

Cllr Arnold told the town council meeting: “I just want to clarify on the record that it was an internal email again and it was a very severe issue in my mind.

“There is nothing in there that I do not believe to be true.”

Cllr Leach concluded: “Our formal response will be we are not going to apologise.

“I have asked Dave (Kent, town clerk) to ask Mr Pearman how he got hold of it and if he wishes to take up the case, that is up to him. That is his right as a citizen.”

As well as the resignations of the three councillors, chief executive officer Mrs Jayne Smailes also left last year and is suing the council for constructive dismissal, which is due to be considered by an industrial tribunal later this year.