Legal threat on web spoof

PUBLISHED: 12:17 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:29 05 May 2010

CAMPAIGNERS against a town council have been threatened with legal action after setting up a spoof website which mocked the public body. Set up earlier this year by a person or people calling themselves the Letchworth Garden City Trust, the satirical site

CAMPAIGNERS against a town council have been threatened with legal action after setting up a spoof website which mocked the public body.

Set up earlier this year by a person or people calling themselves the Letchworth Garden City Trust, the satirical site ridiculed various aspects of Letchworth Garden City Council (LGCC) and branded it "largely ineffectual".

The Comet covered the story in February this year when LGCC chairman Philip Ross said he found the site "quite amusing".

But a Trust spokesman said: "It seems the council has lost its sense of humour and decided to use council tax funds to pursue the Trust through the legal system.

"This extraordinary step can be seen as nothing other than an attempt to gag those who speak out against it."

In a solicitor's letter to the Trust it says the spoof website at www.letch worthgardencitycouncil.org.uk is "a substantial copy" of LGCC's own website and "sets out to impersonate" the town council.

The letter continues: "The purpose of such behaviour can only have been to divert, confuse and/or benefit from members of the public seeking our client or to damage our client."

The letter makes seven demands, including immediate removal of the website, to prevent legal proceedings for breach of copyright, "including an application for an injunction and for payment of damages and legal costs".

The spoof material has now been removed and replaced with the solicitor's letter.

LGCC's clerk, Pat Nevins, said: "The council has been forced to take action after finding some senior citizens have missed the opportunity to go on our summer outings. They apparently found the spoof site which claims the council has no events planned. As the spoof site is a virtual copy of our site, some residents have been confused.

"The council has taken a relaxed view about the site to date but we are now advised that it is disrupting council business.

"Unfortunately we don't have a choice when residents are affected."

The Trust's spokesman said: "It is shameful councillors have decided to use tax payers' money for this purpose.

"Our website has never tried to pass as the town council's website. Anyone who read the content would be under no illusions as to its intent - to highlight through parody and satire the ineptitude, high cost and anti-democratic actions of this council."

The spoof material has now been transferred to www.letchworth-tc.co.uk

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