Friday, 13 May 2016

Caebrwyn under fire - some updates


July 15th - Informed by the police commissioner's office that the police are still carrying out the investigative assessment of the complaints, so this is still ongoing.

Please refer to my earlier post from April 15th; Caebrwyn under fire
(Later post, June 4th; The police 'investigation' continues... )

With regards to Carmarthenshire council's decision to pursue me for £190,390 costs, the latest deadline to respond, before 'recovery action is instigated without further notice', was 4 pm today (Friday 13th).
I have replied and said that due to the recent legal threats made by a senior member of staff of Carmarthenshire council, it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment.

With regards to that senior member of staff, chief executive Mark James, having reported me to the police, I contacted Dyfed Powys Police myself today as five weeks have passed since I received the letter from his solicitors.
I was put through to the officer in charge of the investigation who confirmed that a complaint had been made. The police were currently waiting for further information from "the council" before proceeding further and I was told I would be contacted in due course by whatever method the police think appropriate. Apparently I would be "treated tidy"...reassuring to know they're not going to beat a confession out of me.
I was also told that it was up to the police to inform me, not Mr James via his solicitors.

I do not know if Mr James is returning to the High Court with regards to his allegations of contempt. I have not heard that matters have been withdrawn and at the moment I assume that the process is ongoing. The last I heard was that instructions had been given to pass papers to counsel for preparation.


As I have made clear, if it becomes necessary, I will defend all allegations against me, under any of the circumstances I have mentioned above.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

As if this entire ludicrous scenario wasnt enough starting with the infamous #falsearrest. With each update it becomes even more surreal and I am sure many will agree, totally beyond belief. I could say a lot more but I am mindful that free speech isnt allowed anymore in this little country of ours.As for me voting for anyone down there in the Bay of Flying Pigs forget it. Shameful.

Ken Haylock said...

Are we allowed to ask what undertakings you made regarding Carmarthenshire's Rotten Borough and its unelected King whose name may not be spoken? Or are the undertakings themselves a secret?

caebrwyn said...

Hi Ken,
No, not secret as far as I'm concerned but would, I suppose, form the substance of detailed arguments in court (which would be an open court) should any of this get that far. I don't want to prejudice any case, either way, at the moment by discussing the details on here, but suffice to say, as anon 18:17 quite rightly says, it's all ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

when you say that the Police are waiting for information from the council I think this is a bit odd.

I don't think you can harass the council. The harassment act relates to a course of conduct etc towards "another"

Given that Mr James saw fit to make a complaint he must have had the information (at that time ) that he thought sufficient to substantiate that allegation.

The Police will not want to touch this with a shitty stick after the last time they got involved with you.


Ken Haylock said...

Yes it is all ludicrous, but we are well through the looking glass now.

There are planning disputes in the county in recent history where the courts seem happy to repeatedly acquit people _clearly_ bang to rights doing it on live TV guilty of criminal damage on the grounds that their actions are entirely understandable and even permissible in the light of the council's outrageous and unconscionable treatment of them and of the inability of the courts to deliver them the justice the courts have long said is due to them. There's an absolute air of impunity around the council, as nothing is ever done, while obvious impropriety doesn't so much hide in plain sight as strut around waving its metaphorical genitalia at the world defiantly, and yet nothing changes, and thus it's a magical place where unlawfully using the coercive power and resources of the state to persecute a blogger on behalf of one unelected mini-demagogue's inflated ego is seen as the normal course of events.

To be honest, if commissioners haven't been brought into Carmarthenshire yet to clean out the Augean stables with all that goes on here, you would have to imagine that they never will be anywhere. And yet we know that they have elsewhere in Wales, to resolve a toxic conflict between elected representatives and officers if I remember what that was about correctly. It would seem, then, that the crucial difference in Carmarthenshire is that the councillors are collectively a compliant mass of gravy train riding sheep, more interested in personally suckling at the council tax payer's teat than providing anything that looks like good governance. The few awkward souls who imagine that they have a responsibility to push for something other than better access to the feeding trough for themselves are easily isolated, and neutralized... and the band played on, as the calumnies mount upon calumnies, until eventually the mountain of things that desperately needed investigating but were ignored by everybody reaches a point when the potential investigators are embarrassed to look at the Everest of ordure before them at all lest the sheer amount of potential awfulness that might turn out to be actual crime or graft or corruption or misconduct in public office dating back years if not decades reflects badly on the investigators for not acting sooner.

I keep saying to myself that it can't go on forever, but unless one of the bodies tasked with oversight does some overseeing soon, it can and will.

Jennifer Brown said...

Nothing will change all the while #whistleblowers & complainants can be vilified by Councils 'specially by Carmarthenshire County Council who ignore their own policies & procedures to cover up wrongdoing. The Ombudsman may sometimes be persuaded to look into matters of their maladministration but once told by CCC they act on his recommendations (seemingly with no intention of changing their way of doing things)he happily keeps damning reports away from the public gaze. Until whistleblower concerns are looked into properly following procedure and complaints from the public looked into follow procedure the culture will never change. The Ombudsman must do his job properly and be less protective of the CCC. All his reports (when he can be persuaded to investigate) must be made public and given to scrutiny committees to view and discuss. Officers and the self interested executives have too much power which they abuse to enable cover up. The voter needs to know what kind of Council we have in Carmarthenshire and who of their representatives are willing to start questioning the advice self interested officers and executives give them to stop them acting in the publics interest. Party politics stops WAG interfering (I found that to be the case anyway as well as my Cllr being told not to get involved). Ken Haylock strong words but the CCC deserve it all! Have a read of "Abuse of Power:Because Councils Can" written by Julie Grace an officer who refused to be coerced into acting against a member of the public who was a complainant. Our old Ombudsman has now gone to her neck of the woods Ireland wonder if he still thinks he cannot look into a whistleblowers complaint as she doesn't represent a service user even though he looked ( after much persuasion) into whistleblower Delyth Jenkins' complaint and us employees being told in our whistleblowing policy to approach him if the CCC has not handled the disclosures properly. Nothing is done when it's obvious to anyone who is interested enough to read about the CCC shenanigans as too few take an interest until it actually effects them personally. Nice for Councils to have statutory policies in place and good written procedures to point to as proof of a Councils good intentions but not so nice for the Public Interest when Councils totally ignore them when dealing with whistleblowers and complainants. We need to be more interested in how our representative act on our behalf and how our public bodies behave when caught out in acts against the public interest so people like Jacqui, Cneifiwr and good local publications like Llanelli & Carmarthenshire Herald need supporting even if only by making comments which show the Council more people are beginning to understand and disapprove of what they are up to. What's the saying "death by a thousand cuts"? If we refuse to be silenced, in the end even officers (like Julie Grace) might stand their ground against being coerced into wrongdoing and cover up! That's what I hope anyway then officers and members of the same calibre as Mark James and the past/present Executive will find themselves unwelcome in Carmarthenshire or anywhere else.

Tessa said...

Well said Ken Haylock - and re final paragraph - yeah me too!
Thing is, the longer it goes on, the more persons/bodies will be splattered with the poop that hits the fan, and so the greater the incentive to do nothing.
Look at the Audit Commission (or w.t.f. they're calling themselves these days) - with the exception of Anthony Barratt - they did nothing before, which isn't justifiable if they do something now - so best not to do anything now. I wonder whom AB upset, and what damage he did to his career, and his personal health, as a consequence of doing the job for which he was paid?
It WILL all catch up - only a matter of time, even if a long time - look at recent events to finally find justice - Hillsborough, Saville and his ilk, for example.

towy71 said...

Ken Haylock has it just right, the Welsh Government oversight 'tis like Nero fiddling while Rome burns

Ken Haylock said...

I think there is a real problem with the idea of paying councillors handsomely for being councillors and even more for being cabinet members but not providing a mechanism where poor governance can result in a financial penalty, either directly or indirectly. A volunteer councillor, one who isn't on the take anyway, has to want to do the job for its own sake, not for the chance of inducements. A paid councillor, on the other hand, is effectively bought and paid for by the status quo. Don't rock the boat and you keep getting paid. Ask inconvenient questions, show signs of wanting to peer under any suspicious looking rocks that you might unavoidably see, fail to genuflect appropriately at meetings, and you'll be off the candidate list/losing that nice sinecure in the show-cabinet forthwith, or your place in the queue for next time one of those sinecures comes up. And that is legalised, formalised, officially sanctioned, baked-into-the-system, working-as-designed, nobody-inside-the-system-is-going-to-criticise-it, corruption.

If you decide that the only way of persuading people to become councillors is to pay them, then you need performance criteria against which they cam be judged independently and stand to _lose_ money if they fail to perform. And performing isn't about the political decisions they take, that's what they are elected to do, it's about the quality of governance. When your council makes a decision that is later adjudged unlawful, even if it is because your acting head of legal basically fed you a bunch of pseudo-legal drivel and BS to convince you that it was on the level, then it should have an impact on your wallet. Perhaps it would be fair to limit councillors' liability to twice the value of their salary, but if they are paying a head of legal services who cannot tell them when they are breaking the law, that's down to them as councillors not the officers or the poor bloody voters, and all those who voted in favour of doing something unlawful and rendering the council liable to costs and/or damages should be making good the council's losses up to that limit I mentioned. You'd get a lot less people keeping theur heads down for the money and a lot more people pro-actively looking for the buried bodies because they would have a personal stake in finding them quickly and getting them cleared away.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with Ken Haylock. The bigger the scandal the bigger the cover up and the walls of deceit get reinforced by others drawn in. This house should come tumbling down, but it would make too much of a mess and would cost a fortune to rebuild.

Anonymous said...

Who is going to remove the first row of bricks?? Once that's gone the rest will fall. Hillsborough a classic example. It will happen! There's too much to be kept hidden.

Anonymous said...

Hillsborough could have been sorted a lot sooner if someone had looked at the evidence and listened to the families. Same here, the evidence is glaring but no one is listening. Not even the press when they are handed information on a plate. For some reason they are not following it up.

Anonymous said...

Misconduct in public office is a criminal offence. Employees of CCC should keep that in mind. It might take years but could come back and bite you in the end.

Tim Hart said...

There are two encouraging aspects that can be salvaged from this malign farce: the fact that Jacqui Thompson has the courage and bloody-mindedness to carry on with her blog regardless and that there are still people willing to take the time to make angry and pertinent comments in response to her blog. I particularly like the contributions from Ken Haylock, Jennifer Brown and Tessa. Ken’s turn of phrase is very graphic and right on the button!

Isn’t it time to bring an end to this egregious saga? The Council should cease its attempt to get blood out of a stone in pursuing the costs order against Jacquie Thompson. The individual councillors, who were culpable in the unlawful indemnity for which a large chunk of these costs relate and which has kept this whole bandwagon rolling, should reimburse Council funds to the value of the related legal costs; if necessary by an attachment of earnings order against the lavish pay and benefits which those Councillors have bestowed upon themselves under the delusion that they are worth it. As there is probably no judicial body that would entertain such a notion then this futile attempt at justice may as well be forgotten and the council taxpayers, as usual, will have to bear the price of the ineptitude of their elected representatives.

The Chief Executive, Mark James, should stop his vindictive campaign of pursuing costs and damages against Jacqui and regard himself as lucky that he still has a lucrative job worth - with pay and perks - around £250,000 a year, courtesy of the generous people of Carmarthenshire. I believe that Mark James is behaving vindictively in the sense that he must realise his prospect of successful recovery of the money is slim. In addition he may also be behaving vindictively in invoking the criminal law; which may well have more to do with tactics - by engaging the police as leverage to help to enforce a civil judgment - rather than concern for his personal safety, or the upholding of law and order. The police should be cognisant of the risk of the criminal law being misused in this manner and speedily investigate and conclude the matter, rather than dragging it out in ‘pursuit of their enquiries’; the latter having the effect of assisting Mark James in his cause.

As for the various libel actions that have been the centre of this debacle, the UK is well known as the destination of choice for every Tom Dick and Harry around the world whose libel actions would be laughed out of the courts in their own jurisdictions, but are dutifully adjudicated in the High Court and appellant courts in London. The UK will continue its thriving business of libel tourism so long as freedom of speech remains so under-valued in our own country and the upholding of this fundamental right is left to clueless individuals in petty authorities and to the vagaries of judicial interpretation, rather than enshrined in a written constitution as it is in almost every other country in the world – except the UK!

Jacquie Thompson’s blog is an essential element of free speech and must not be at risk of being silenced either by Carmarthenshire Council, its Chief Executive, the civil courts, or by abuse of the criminal law. The right of free speech should trump defamation laws in all but the most blatant and serious cases. To do otherwise is to reduce democracy to a vacuous notion. And certainly no citizen should ever be at risk of losing their home for exercising such a right!

Ken Haylock said...

I think the whole Dame Shirley Porter gerrymandering scandal rather killed the idea of sequestration in this country...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homes_for_votes_scandal

At the end of the day if you have enough money to be worth pursuing you are going to have enough money to be able to hide it, and threatening to render individual councillors bankrupt and penniless to the point where they decide to pre-emptively kill themselves to avoid the risk of being found liable in a subsequent proceeding is probably not going to aid in the recruitment of high calibre candidates for elected office...

I would only subject those taking payment, both officers & elected members, to any kind of financial penalty, and limit the penalty to the size of the salary they are on. Plus the value of their salary, obviously. Thus a Carmarthenshire County Councillor who had declined to take their salary could not be held financially liable at all for any subsequent gross errors they made that wasted public money. By contrast, a council officer earning close to £200,000 a year would be looking at a much bigger bill if they were found to have unlawfully wasted public money. Specifically, handing back the previous 12 months salary, and then the same again to the value of the loss. We need councillors, butr if they are going to take money especially, we need them keen & engaged....

Jennifer Brown said...

I hope Jacqui takes heart from what Tim has said. Mark James acts as he does because he knows that no one with the authority to hold him to account is willing to do so. No doubt they have not always got to their positions without turning the odd blind eye to wrongdoing they should have highlighted. It's all a game to them. They always find a position paid for from the public purse when they have to be moved on to silence the publics calls for accountability & investigation. Wish we could clone representatives of the same calibre as Cllr/Dr Sian Caiach who fights to get answers for her constituents and understands the importance of whistleblowers in our public services. Until Cllrs stop being cowed by officers & the executive into silence and decent officers with the public interest foremost in everything they do start to stand up and be counted there will be no change and the self interested bods will continue to run Carmarthenshire CC in their own self interest. Misconduct in Public Office is a criminal offence as Anon 8:05 explains but while Dyfed Powys Police and the CPS continue to act against the public's interest by refusing to look into the actions of CCC, believing their version without question, wrongdoers need not worry. Police and CPS prefer not to become involved in holding another public body to account anyway; could become very awkward and darn right nasty as there are too many connections.