SIX councils accused of cloaking the sale of Durham Tees Valley Airport for just £500,000 in a “shroud of secrecy” look set to reconsider whether they should release details of the deal.

Legal experts have said following a first tier tribunal judge forcing Hartlepool Borough Council to make documents from the 2003 deal for the 951-acre site in Darlington and Stockton boroughs public, the “context for disclosure” has moved on.

The statement comes as Darlington Borough Council is set for another tribunal battle to withhold information about an alleged agreement between Peel and the authorities that the airport operator would keep the airport open until April 2021.

Despite a four-year campaign, authorities involved in the deal with Peel Airports, which also include Durham, Stockton, Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, have resisted releasing details, such as what was required of the airport operator.

Following the Hartlepool council tribunal decision, campaigners have sent Freedom of Information Act requests again to Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton councils for details of the original share sale agreement.

Previously the councils had all refused to release the information on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.

In a response from the lead authority in relation to the airport, Stockton Borough Council, campaigners have been told “there are likely to be different weightings now for the public interest in disclosure”. The authority’s chief solicitor, Ged Morton, said the key issue had been to “maintain the confidentiality of documentation whilst there were ongoing shareholder discussions with Peel”.

He added: “Given those discussions have concluded, the context for disclosure has as you recognise moved on.

“I will need to consult with colleagues in the other shareholder authorities and again with Peel...”

Darlington Borough councillor Doris Jones, whose Middleton St George ward is beside the airport, said it was now clearly in the public interest that details of the deal be released by the authorities.

She said: “I feel very strongly that people should be able to see the activities that have been going on. Any money that the councils spend is public money.

“At the end of the day Peel is a private company and it is about time that Peel put its hand in its pocket and be honest, putting their cards on the table.”

After being asked about the demands for information about the airport deal, a spokesman for the councils said: “Clearly, we want to see the airport put on the sustainable financial footing needed to secure its future in the longer-term.”

A Peel spokesman said it was committed to working closely with the councils to ensure the airport “continues to make a major contribution to the area’s economic progress”.