A US court has forced Twitter to hand over the personal data of one of its users to South Tyneside Council.
The Twitter user, named 'Mr Monkey', is alleged to have made libelous statements about three councilors, including the council's Labour leader Iain Malcolm.
The Twitter account is no longer active and is no longer indexed by Google Search.
South Tyneside Council would not reveal the exact legal costs of the case because it is ongoing, but did confirm that the figure would be less than £75,000.
"The Council has a duty of care to its employees and, as this blog contains damaging claims about council officers, legal action is being taken to identify those responsible," said a council spokesman.
Some reports have named Independent South Shields councillor Ahmed Khan as the suspected account holder, as his 'Councillor Khan' Twitter account is also critical of the council, but Khan denies any involvement with the 'Mr Monkey' feed.
Khan has criticised the council for using taxpayers' money to pursue the case against Mr Monkey in court. South Tyneside Council had to take the case to a court in California because Twitter is a US company and is not subject to UK law.
"South Tyneside Council's monkey antics in the USA at the public's expense exposed," Khan noted on Twitter. "It's official, South Tyneside Council is a rotten borough."
The council's successful ruling could set a precedent for more people to make appeals to the US courts in order to access Twitter data.
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