A TROUBLED local authority is facing legal action from one of its own senior managers.

Richmondshire District Council's legal officer, Margaret Barry, is understood to be taking advice from solicitors.

The move comes after Mrs Barry lodged a complaint of bullying against five councillors. The complaint was rejected by the Standards Board for England.

However, an independent investigation upheld the accusation.

Mrs Barry has asked to be relieved of her role as monitoring officer, which involves advising councillors on their conduct, because it has become untenable following the bully claims.

And it is understood Mrs Barry is now considering lodging an employment tribunal claim.

It is claimed she could receive a six-figure sum if the legal action is successful and that the financial burden could fall on the council taxpayer. Council leader John Blackie, one of the five councillors investigated by the Standards Board and the independent investigator, said last night: "There are some fantastic sums being mentioned.

"These, in my view, are Alice in Wonderland figures

"I would like to reassure people that the council tax increase for next year will be set at 2.7 per cent, or less.

"In the very, very unlikely event of compensation, they have my promise that it will not fall on the purse of the taxpayer."

Coun Blackie said he and the four other councillors had been completely exonerated by the Standards Board for England and that relationships between members and officers were improving at the council.

A spokesman for the district council said: "Due to the ongoing unresolved nature of this issue, it would be inappropriate to make any comment at the present time."