IT’S always fun when a group of old hacks get together as I and a group of colleagues did at our new Monmouth office last week.

Before too long the conversation invariably turns to bizarre stories we’ve covered and the pitfalls of media law designed to strike the fear of God into young trainees.

“Did you hear about how Liberace sued the Daily Mirror when it suggested he was gay?” asked one seasoned law expert.

Having finally explained to the younger team members exactly who Liberace was, he went on to recount how the American pianist, had reportedly ‘cried all the way to the bank’ after successfully suing the paper for its article describing him as “ the summit of sex - the pinnacle of masculine, feminine and neuter. Everything that he, she and it can ever want... a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love.”

“Look up the case of Banbury CID as well,” he urged the trainees.

“The entire ten man team successfully sued for libel damages when it was stated in a newspaper report that a woman had claimed to have been sexually assaulted ‘by a detective from Banbury CID’, thus tarring them all with the same brush

“There’s also the case of the famous actress who sued because a magazine named her ‘favourite’ perfume, as one which was not produced by the perfume house she represented or the one who sued because her picture was taken in the street close to a diet doctor’s office, when she famously asserted that her enviable weight was maintained by healthy eating and diet alone.

“It’s a minefield,” said one of the wide-eyed young reporters.

“The best legal advice I had was ‘never put anything on Facebook, you wouldn’t want your Granny to read,” I added pouring another cup of tar-like coffee, which like complaining and moaning is also a feature of most meetings of old reporters.

On an - almost - separate note it was interesting this week to see Councillor Mary Ann Brocklesby accusing a local journalist of ‘shoddy and unprofessional’ behaviour in relation to stories about Totally Welsh, the Haverfordwest based company chosen to replace Raglan Dairies as the provider of milk to county council sites.

Notwithstanding the defamatory nature of Councillor Brocklesby’s comments, maybe  it’s time that she consider the plank in the eye of her administration rather than the splinter in the eye of the local media.

During her incumbency we have seen countless thousands of pounds wasted on the cattle grid hokey cokey at Abergavenny Castle Meadows, an expensive lift installed to improve disabled access to a public building in Abergavenny, which cannot be used by mobility scooters and has left people trapped on countless occasions.

We’ve seen Monmouthshire’s road deteriorate and the cost of disposing of garden waste double and that’s just to scratch the surface and before we even get to the u-turn on the Raglan dairy fiasco.

Yet it is the journalists which bring such things into the public eye who are branded ‘shoddy and unprofessional’. Curious that isn’t it?