£214,000 Mr Monkey hunt abandoned by South Tyneside Council

MONKEY HUNT ... South Shields Town Hall.
MONKEY HUNT ... South Shields Town Hall.

SOUTH Tyneside Council has given up its search for the notorious Mr Monkey blogger, after five years and £214,000 of taxpayers’ money.

The local authority today confirmed that it will not take any further legal action in tracing the person or persons responsible for making malicious accusations in a defamatory blog.

Employees and councillors were targeted in the anonymous blog – known as Mr Monkey - which published vile and defamatory statements about them, their families, friends and business associates.

A spokesman for the authority said: “The council took legal action because it has a duty of care to protect its staff and officials from the kind of harassment and intimidation caused by this malicious and libellous blog, which, if left unchallenged, would have seriously damaged the reputations of innocent people.

“Since the council initiated the action in 2009, the libellous comments have stopped, and there have been no new postings on the blog.”

The issue of anonymous blogs, internet ‘trolls’ and people hiding behind anonymity online has grown over recent years following a number of high-profile cases in the media.

The spokesman added: “Taking legal action attracted some criticism, but as a council we felt it was our duty to mount this challenge in order to protect people from cyber-bullying and harassment. We stand by this principle.”

An application was made by the plaintiffs to the Superior Court of California (County of San Mateo), on June 17 for the dismissal of the case.

The court gave its consent on June 19, and the case was dismissed.

The dismissal was made expressly without prejudice to any existing right or claim.

This allows the enforcement of the order for $97,475 costs made against former councillor Ahmed Khan, who chose to intervene and tried to have the legal action dismissed.

This challenge was rejected by San Mateo County Court in California, with the judge describing it as ‘frivolous.’

Costs were awarded in favour of the council, which is still trying to recover them from Mr Khan.

South Tyneside Council today said the cost of the Mr Monkey legal case was £214,000.