THE South Tyneside councillor who failed to stop the hunt for Mr Monkey has been hit with a whopping legal bill.
Coun Ahmed Khan launched an American courtroom bid to halt the search for the controversial bloggers, who posted defamatory statements about local politicians and Town Hall officials.
But San Mateo County Court dismissed an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation) brought by the Independent Alliance representative back in September, describing it as “frivolous”.
As a result, the council said it would be chasing Coun Khan for the extra legal costs it incurred as a result of his unsuccessful challenge.
And today the Gazette can reveal that figure is $64,000, in the region of £40,000.
A council spokesman said: “Following the dismissal of Coun Khan’s ‘anti-SLAPP’ motion on September 8, the San Mateo County Court has ordered that Coun Khan must pay the costs and attorney’s fees incurred in defending the ‘anti-SLAPP’ case.
“Our American lawyers have advised that these costs total $64,370, and they have submitted a claim for this amount to the court in California. We are advised that the claim will be considered by the court at a hearing on January 11.”
The council has backed a three-year legal hunt to discover the identity of those behind the Mr Monkey blogs on behalf of four plaintiffs who came under attack, council leader Iain Malcolm, Couns Anne Walsh and David Potts and council regeneration boss Rick O’Farrell.
Despite no one ever being named as Mr Monkey, Coun Khan intervened in proceedings to file his SLAPP motion earlier in the year.
The council’s legal costs in the search for Mr Monkey, which had previously run at £75,000, increased as a result of that challenge and have since risen beyond the six-figure mark.
The four plaintiffs had previously won the right to have Coun Khan’s personal computer records examined after a successful legal bid ordering social networking giant Twitter to hand over various documents.
The bid to unmask the mystery blogger remains ongoing, with the plaintiffs weighing up the option of pursuing data from other phone and internet providers that they believe could help in the search.
Coun Khan, who represents the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields, has previously said he could appeal the decision to reject his original SLAPP motion.
He was unavailable for comment this morning when the Gazette tried to contact him.