Friday, 9 December 2016

The vice-like grip


December 16th; A further post from Cneifiwr; Mr James's Legal Glacier, well worth a read....

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As I'm sure many of you are aware, the Motion put forward by Plaid Cllr Alun Lenny (see end of post) for the full council meeting on December 14th was rejected. As was, for the second month running, a question from Cllr Sian Caiach asking for clarity about Mr James' intentions should he ever succeed in getting the damages. It remains unclear whether he's going to give it to the council, charity, or pocket it himself.

It wasn't the Chair who rejected the Motion, he neither knows, nor wants to know, anything about all of this, this was Head of Law and Monitoring Officer, Linda Rees Jones acting on behalf of the person who gave her the job, the person with a vested interest. Impartiality doesn't come into it.

Let's not beat around the bush, as Cneifiwr puts it so well in his latest post, 'Contempt' ;

"The last 24 hours have brought a powerful reminder that for all the talk of reform and change in County Hall, and despite the WLGA-led review of governance, the chief executive retains a vice-like grip on the running of the council, with councillors reduced to being impotent onlookers.

The checks and balances which are supposed to prevent abuses and protect the interests of the wider public have been subverted and corrupted." 

As for Ms Rees Jones, she likes to remind Cllr Caiach, somewhat scathingly, that she, Cllr Caiach, was a 'witness for Mrs Thompson' in the libel trial. What she fails to mention, as she imparts her legal advice, is that she herself was a witness in the trial, for Mr James and the Council, her witness statement consisted of her attempt to justify the libel indemnity clause, a clause found to be unlawful, and now suspended.

As Cllr Caiach has been single-handedly raising questions concerning all this, or trying to, for years, , I felt that Cllr Lenny's Motion was a little late in the day. However, despite some misgivings, and clearly I do not agree with the second paragraph, I gave it a cautious, but sincere welcome. In fact, prior to the Motion appearing I had a letter from Adam Price AM (Plaid) explaining that he had spent a couple of weeks speaking to colleagues in County Hall, and had made representations to the leader of the council, all of which had led to this Motion.

Indeed, I hope Cllr Lenny can find a way forward. The threat that the Motion could be contempt of court is, in my honest view, nonsense. Courts will look favourably on efforts by the parties concerned to resolve matters prior to trials and hearings or during litigation, which was all this motion was suggesting.
Legal threats, of one kind or another, are used by the chief executive and his legal department, in a variety of scenarios, to persuade enquiring councillors to back-off. This is a perfect example of that behaviour.

Mr James has, basically, slapped them down, and not for the first time. A couple of years ago former Plaid AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas called for intervention in Carmarthenshire Council, and that was when Plaid were in opposition...

The chief executive's actions, aided by the legal rubber stamp of Ms Rees Jones, and a very pliant Chair, have totally undermined the democratic process. Something he has been doing since he first arrived in Carmarthen, he started by threatening and trying to control the local press. This is not just about me and the libel case, this is about the toxic culture created and led by Mr James for fourteen years.

This culture was recently described, by former Police Commissioner Christopher Salmon, as "Wales' answer to a Sicilian cartel....It extracts vast amounts of money from residents which it showers on favourites, hordes property, bullies opponents, co-opts friends and answers to no one, least of all local councillors."

If you're wondering where Plaid council leader Emlyn Dole stands on all this I received a letter from him this morning confirming that 'we now have a charge on your property'. He invites me to contact his office if I have 'constructive proposals' to repay £190,390.... He doesn't elaborate on what will happen next if I can't.
However, if Cllr Dole is prepared to remove the Charge, he's welcome to contact me.
So hopeless is the prospect of recovery that the judge didn't even make an order for costs for last week's hearing.

A few days ago, welcoming the Motion as a possible glimmer of hope, Cneifiwr wrote a blog post titled 'Common sense v Revenge'.
It is now clear to me, as if it wasn't already, that Mr James prefers revenge, and will let no one, no one at all, stand in his way.

Here's Cllr Lenny's response to the rejection;

"Cllr Cefin Campbell and I had submitted a Notice of Motion to next week’s full meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council urging the Executive Board and Chief Executive to seek means of settling the libel issue involving Jacqui Thompson in a way which would not result in her being forced to sell her home to pay damages and costs. The NoM was drawn up with the best of intentions, in an attempt to bring a conciliatory note to a toxic issue which has dragged on for several years. I’m sorry to say that the Chair has refused to place our NoM on the Agenda. The Chair was guided by the legal department, who e-mailed us in his name. Basically, it said we had no business to interfere in the Chief Executive’s “private and personal” affairs and legal rights. It warned that such action could constitute contempt of court. Cefin and I were also accused of showing “extreme discourtesy” to the Chair by making the Press aware of our Notice of Motion before he had time to consider it.  
For now, I will just say this.
Many would perceive that the Chief Executive’s action was hardly “private and personal” as his counter-libel action was publicly funded by the Council, an indemnity deemed unlawful by the Welsh Audit Office. As regards “extreme discourtesy” shown towards the Chair, that it utter nonsense. An elected member has the democratic right to make public an intended Notice of Motion at any time. Giving the public an opportunity to discuss such NoMs – or intended NoMs – is a key part of the democratic process. Cefin and I discussed seeking independent legal opinion, but came to the conclusion that enough money has been pocketed by lawyers and barristers in this matter already. We shall leave the court of public opinion to make its own judgement for now. But this is not the end of the matter…"

Here's the rejected Notice of Motion;
NOTICE OF MOTION 
Carmarthenshire County Council expresses concern about the way in which its reputation has been tarnished in recent years by the court actions involving our Chief Executive and Mrs Jacqui Thompson. 
We fully accept that the previous council was obliged to defend its most senior officer in the High Court against a libel accusation. We also accept that it was the Chief Executive’s prerogative to launch a personal counter-libel action to protect his reputation. 
The judicial outcome clearly vindicates these actions. 
However, we are now concerned that the pursual of damages and costs is having the
perverse effect of causing damage to the reputation of this council and its Chief Executive. 
We urge the Chief Executive and the Executive Board to seek means of settling this matter in a way which will not result in Mrs Thompson losing her home. 
We believe that such a conciliatory approach would enhance the reputation of this council and its Chief Executive and help bring closure to this toxic issue.
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The council acquired a final charging order for £190,390 last Friday and the chief executive is currently trying to force sale of my home for his damages. There has been no mention of the £41,000 unlawfully funded counterclaim costs.

There has been press coverage on BBC Wales and the Carmarthen Journal.
This week's Carmarthenshire Herald has again reported on these matters in detail, and includes full coverage of last week's delivery to County Hall of a pound of flesh.





13th December; A post from south Wales blogger Owen Donovan; FMQs: On Strike
Thanks Owen, aka @oggybloggyogwr

14th December; Carmarthen Journal; Motion to protect blogger Jacqui Thompson's home blocked over contempt of court concerns


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

NOW is the time the spineless bunch of councillors need to combine together and bring a motion of no confidence in james and have him dismissed under a gross negligence vote, preferably before Christmas.

Clearly the man is hell bent on revenge and nothing less will satisfy him. These are not the actions of any sane person and Carmarthenshire is now in danger of further dangerous decisions from someone who is evidently deluded about the power they hold.

james and his legal advisor need to go pronto.

Lets see if any councillors have the spine to bring a vote of no confidence or even bringing the county into disrepute, which could result in the dark lord leaving without a penny in pay off.

Thats my Christmas wish.....

Anonymous said...

If it is shown that Linda Rees Jones is giving wrong information to councillors, then she must resign her post. Given that she is clearly not working independently of Mark James she should resign her post anyway.

When are the rest of the councillors going to wake up and do what they were elected to do, start running the council and stand up to the bully who is controlling them. Thank goodness for the few that have shown integrity and backbone. We could also do without the Leader Dole who has shown himself to be lacking in any moral compass.

Anonymous said...

From my own personal experience Carmarthenshire County Council truly believe that they have more knowledge than their residents.
They give fairy tale replies to any queries and hope you will just go away.
I currently have an issue with them that will probably take years to solve - the advantage being it costs me nothing to reject their fairy tale replies.
I, like Jacqui do not accept this rubbish that is produced and I do not give up easily.
They have scores of people in managerial positions, all with different titles that cost the taxpayer millions annually.
If Council want to cut costs then get someone in to review their workforce at managerial level.

As for the WAG - a total waste of time as far as the working man is concerned, they will not do a thing. All they have is two photos, one sad and one smiling.

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd given up being surprised by the inaction of the council in face of Mark James's iron will and grip, but this takes the biscuit. When, oh when, will councillors do something about this appalling employee of theirs?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is part of a masterplan being played out by councillors that have had a bellyful of this man who seems to have forgotten his role is that of an advisory capacity and answerable to them not the other way round.

It could be that the initial proposal was deliberately tabled knowing that it would be rejected whilst forcing james to reveal his true character. Thus paving the way for a no confidence vote and a means to rid the council of the cancer once and for all with the added bonus of not having to pay him any renumeration.

If the council are clever, this is what they will now do.

As someone above suggests, mark james has brought the council and the county into disrepute. Such behaviour does not sit well with government or other public bodies and it should be enough to encourage councillors to pursue such line of action.

Gone before Christmas? Oh yes please!

Anonymous said...

Well it just goes to prove the WAG is nothing more than a costly white elephant that cares absolutely nothing for those they supposedly represent. I gave up on the place years ago. Oh for a Referendum on the Arsembly. The pathetic plastic parliament must go. I already know their worthlessness and how they couldnt care less the hard way. Now it is obvious to all I would have thought. With regard to the antics at play here well there is a saying when in a hole etc. However in this case they are foolishly using JCBs not shovels.

Anonymous said...

Mark James finds it impossible to simply respond without added extras. If he feels in any way that he is being questioned, he attacks. There are many examples of this in cases where members of the public have attempted justice for negligence by this council. Slurs and smears become the order of the day. With Jacqui, clearly revenge. In the case of the two respected councillors he continues in the same vein. His response had to come with attacks upon their integrity. There's something wrong with him and it's about time the rest of the councillors stood up for their own and got rid of this out of control employee.

Anonymous said...

Mark James is so confident in the power he wields that he thinks he is invincible.Cefin Campell and Alun Lenny have perhaps made an excellent start in opening the can of worms that is Carmarthen Council.Let us hope it escalates massively to bring down this despot and his supporters.

Patricia B said...

The role LRJ holds as Monitoring Officer includes holding officers to account for Misconduct in Public Office. See many well documented examples of various council's Monitoring Officer's duties online. As she is very aware of Misconduct in my case alone, why hasn't she carried out her function in this regard. I would suggest this is all becoming very serious undeed.

caebrwyn said...

I see that Cllr Lenny has now removed his response (as copied into this post) to the rejection of the Motion from his 'official' Councillor Facebook page. I have no idea why.

To put it in a nutshell, Mark James, CBE, threatened to sue the entire council for contempt of court if they discussed this Motion, without, in my view, a legal leg to stand on.
Outrageous. He's out of control.

Anonymous said...

What the hell is going on here in Carmarthenshire, and more to the point why is it being allowed by the powers at be. Mark James is a liability completely out of control and the weak spineless members roll over for him. Legal Linda is less than honest and clearly has become MJs personal protector. She's forgotten her oath and her legal requirements according to her code. Anglesey was put in 'special measures' for far less than the scandals that keep seeping out of this council. Somehow we need to bypass our Welsh Government and seek involvement from Westminster. Perhaps Neil Hamilton could be approached. Have we come to the stage where dishonesty and coverup is now accepted? Chief Executive - elected members - dodgy planning - and dodgy legal. Could it get any worse for us taxpayers?

Patricia B said...

Could this council's conduct sink any lower? I think not. It is alarming that officers are accountable to no-one and we as taxpayers are being let down time and again by the dishonesty and cover up of malpractice. They do of course have 'statutory duties' which have to be abided by and this is (should be) our protection as taxpayers. Well, that is what we are all led to believe. This is all to give us a feeling of comfort and belief that if we are treated badly by those we entrust to carry out correct procedures and duties, abide by their Code of Conduct, acknowledge the Human Rights Act, and adopt the Seven Nolan Principles, there would be consequences for those who fall short of those criteria. Linda Rees Jones has them as do all officers employed by the authority. I believed this - until recently! However, I have been enlightened to learn that officers - all officers, employed by this authority do NOT have to abide by these 'statutory duties' in law - as these practices are ONLY discretionary after all! In short, if officers do not wish to implement correct procedures and regulations which are 'statutory duties' (for certain members of the public) well - they simply don't have to and don't even have to explain their reasoning! This may well be why no-one is accountable any more - is it?? Back door planning for some - a life ruined for innocent people who get caught up in it!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
There is something afoot in Carmarthen Council that grows bigger by the day.
the ploy by MJ aided and abetted by his joined- at- the hip supporter LiNDA OF lEGAL.
The brave stance by Alun Lenny and Cefin Campell was quickly demolished with threat of contempt of court for just discussing it in the council chamber.
This has now been proved to be absolute nonsense and of course is what MJ does best.
Linda Rees Jones must explain herself further if she wants to retain her favoured position.
Emlyn Dole is clearly terrified of Mark James so it is really down to councillors to ask the Welsh Assembly to clarify the position.The evidence is there.Since occupying his position as CEO in Carmarthen he has had an agenda and that is to render impotent all elected members and gain total control.This he has now achieved.Welsh Assembly take note, the snowball is gathering speed and we all know what happens when it stops.

17 December 2016 at 12:42

Anonymous said...

I wonder too why Alun Lenny removed his response from his official councillor page.Was it a question of pressure from the threat of court action by MJ having been advised by Linda R- Jones.
Sorry it is the other way round isn't it!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked Alun Lenny why he has removed his response to Loopy Linda Legal from his Facebook page? It is rather strange to say the least, especially as he had said 'that's not an end of the matter'. Has he now fallen foul of Mark James in the same way as Cll. Caiach who was reported to the Ombudsman and Cll. Bill Thomas who was threatened with Legal Action.