A JUDGE has dismissed claims that a council harassed a former town mayor after alleging she ‘misappropriated’ public funds.

Lynn Little has been ordered to pay costs to Carterton Town Council, with an interim sum expected to be £15,000, after her claim that the authority and its clerk Ron Spurs harassed her were formally ‘struck out’.

The town’s current mayor Michele Mead said: “It is extremely sad that the council has had to defend itself and its staff against these unmeritorious allegations.

“The strike out of the claim is a resounding legal victory for the town council and the people of Carterton.”

Mrs Little made the counter-claim in response to allegations from the council, that she had ‘misappropriated’ £4,835 from a town council bank account during her period as mayor.

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She denies this and has said she is confident she has evidence, yet to be made public, that will 'exonerate' her.

It is alleged that she paid the money out of the Mayor’s Allowance Account during 2015/16 and 2017, including a donation of £4,000 to ‘Ted Little’s Veteran’s Home’, an organisation not registered with the Charity Commission, payments for civic functions, and guests for the town’s St George’s Day Dinner in 2017.

Allegations surfaced two years ago and the council’s civil claim is ongoing.

A judge at Oxford County Court assessed her counter-claim at a ‘strike-out hearing’ in July, but the ruling could only be published publicly after a related costs hearing on Thursday.

She alleged that the council and clerk’s treatment of her regarding the alleged misuse of funds amounted to harassment, including letters demanding repayment of the money, that Mr Spurs had passed the matter to the police, and had spoken to press about a ‘breakdown of trust’.

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Various other examples and emails were detailed to the District Judge Wakem, at the hearing on July 25.

The ruling states: “The defendant has no real prospect of successfully convincing the court that Mr Spurs was motivated by malice or a wish to harass, as opposed to following proper procedures for the investigation.”

Mrs Little told the Oxford Mail: "I have waited for two years for an independent inquiry into the fiasco at the town hall, which has been denied by last year's chairman and the current chairman, as the public have the right to the truth on the matter.

"Whilst I'm disappointed that the harassment claim doesn't remain part of the case, I'm more than confident that the rest of the evidence that will be submitted [for the misappropriation claim] will exonerate me.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the members of the public, and Carterton town councillors, for their continued support."

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A costs hearing was held on Thursday and mayor Michele Mead said Mrs Little 'was ordered to make an interim payment of £15,000 to Carterton Town Council,' but added that 'a full costs hearing will be heard in due course.'

In a letter sent to councillors, Ms Mead added: “This matter has put an immense strain on the day to day operation of the council and staff - literally hundreds of hours have been spent preparing evidence and dealing with the preparation of this case.

“There is no doubt that during this period the trust in the council by some residents of Carterton has been eroded, however, because of the hard work councillors and officers are undertaking, the trust of the community is being restored.”

Mrs Little served as mayor for five years before handing over the chains last year.

She remains a town councillor for the Shillbrook ward.