South Tyneside Council has spent more than £140,000 of public money attempting to unmask an anonymous political blogger called Mr Monkey.
The blog claims to “expose” what goes on behind the scenes at the council, and has levelled unfound accusations of corruption at councillors and officials.
The authority hired an American law firm to discover the identity of the blogger so it can sue the person responsible for slander.
The council has now admitted that the costs of the three-year legal case has spiralled to £142,725.
As part of the legal action, Ahmed Khan, a former South Tyneside Independent councillor, was the subject of a subpoena which the council has issued to Twitter.
The social network site was ordered to hand over all the personal details of his two accounts, his personal one and councillor account.
Mr Khan failed in a legal challenge to halt the search for the blogger in September 2011, which he said was a waste of public money.
But his action was dismissed as 'frivolous' by San Mateo County Court in California.
Council bosses said they would be pursuing him for around £40,000 in legal costs that came from dealing with his failed anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) motion.
Mr Khan, however, appealed that verdict.
Mr Khan, who denies being Mr Monkey, said: "I think it’s absolutely appalling that in these difficult times the council has spent over £140,000 on the pursuit of a monkey of all things."
The council backed a bid to discover the identity of those behind the Mr Monkey blogs on behalf of four plaintiffs who came under attack – council leader Iain Malcolm, fellow Cllrs Anne Walsh and David Potts and council regeneration boss Rick O’Farrell.
Sky Tyne and Wear asked the council for an interview, but it refused.
Instead, a spokesman said: "This legal action was taken because the council has a duty of care to protect its employees from the kind of intimidation and harassment caused by the wilfully false and defamatory statements published on the blog.
"The total amount paid by the council to legal advisors Messrs McDermott Will & Emery (the only agent instructed in this case) is £142,725.
"This is a fraction of the costs the council could have been liable for had it faced claims from staff as a result of not seeking to protect them from maliciously false statements of fact."
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