Legal action threat issued in long-running dispute between Labour councillor and isle blogger

Ian Driver and Karen Constantine

A Thanet district and Kent county councillor has threatened to take legal action against isle blogger Ian Driver.

Karen Constantine says she wants an end to Mr Driver’s “brutal and personal campaign against her and her family.”

The Ramsgate councillor says she has been the focus of “more than 25 libellous blogs in the past two years”. She has now sought legal advice and says she has reported the blogs to the police several times.

However, Mr Driver says he stands by his articles and the evidence used for them and is willing to see Cllr Constantine in court.

The row centres on the blogs which have included pieces on Cllr Constantine’s CV, the events leading up to the refusal of endorsement as parliamentary candidate for Labour’s Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt and the selling of Lush products to fund an election campaign.

Cllr Constantine said: “Mr Driver fails to point out that I beat him in two elections. I have drawn the conclusion that he a resentful loser. Instead of engaging in political discussion he uses personal attacks against me and my family. He is trying to undermine democracy by smearing me just prior to Labour selecting their candidate this Sunday to fight the General Election. He is anti Labour and not behaving as a socialist or trade unionist. I also wonder why he has chosen to target a female politician.

“I am prepared to accept an apology and for him to remove his untruthful blogs. If he persists I shall take firm legal action. The police are aware and I will leave it in their hands to bring charges.

“No one should have to put up with this level hostility. All of us in public life have a responsibility to challenge and report it wherever it occurs.”

Cllr Constantine says she is willing to meet Mr Driver to go through his claims but denies any wrong doing.

But Mr Driver says he had made previous offers to meet which were rebuffed so he will not take up the offer. He also made a counter claim of bullying and said if Cllr Constantine wants to pursue legal action he will see her in court.

He added: “Everything I have written about Karen Constantine is based upon hard evidence, much of which came from her own postings on social media and reliable evidence which can all be corroborated.

“Any opinions I have expressed about her are fair comment based upon this evidence. Much of what I have published about Karen Constantine is one to two years old and she has never complained about it until now. During this two year period, I have publicly offered Constantine every opportunity to contact me and point out any untruths and inaccuracies in my articles about her which I would remove if proved to be true.

“She has never done so once, nor has her lawyer. Despite her complaining to the police several times I have never been contacted by them, which leads me to believe that they do not think I have committed any offence. I am however happy cooperate with any investigation they may launch.”

Thanet Green Party, which Mr Driver has recently rejoined, has issued a statement following the most recent blog posting.

Speaking for the Green Party, Trisha Austin Hartley said: “We would like to offer Cllr Karen Constantine our support. We are appalled by Ian Driver’s latest blog. We immediately took it down from our Facebook page where he’d posted it and we messaged him saying why. He’s recently rejoined the Green Party. Please be assured that he doesn’t speak for us.”

Mr Driver said: “Like anyone else the Green Party is entitled to express its opinion about my blog and I am very pleased they read it. I stand by all the articles I have written about Karen Constantine. I believe them to be truthful and fair comment and I will not be removing them.”