THE GREAT WELSH WATER ROBBERY

July 1, 2014

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WELSH WATER customers have been cheated of more than a quarter of a billion pounds.

That’s the conclusion of a Rebecca Television investigation into Glas Cymru, the company which owns Welsh Water.

Glas Cymru was set up in 2001 as a not-for-profit business claiming to exist solely for the benefit of its customers.

Since then consumers have paid nearly £8,500 million in bills.

Glas Cymru has given them a cash “dividend” of just £150 million over the same period — less than 2 per cent of the total.

Rebecca Television believes they should have received at least a further £250 million — equivalent to roughly £300 for every customer.

The analysis also demonstrates that the real winners in the Glas Cymru saga have been the members of the board.

They’ve taken millions out of the business when their counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland have been satisfied with modest payments.

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ON FRIDAY the 66 people who control Glas Cymru will meet for the fourteenth annual general meeting of the company.  

The company has no shareholders and appoints “members” to take their place.

Nine of these members are the directors of the board.

The other 57 — who receive no payment — are drawn from all over Wales as well as parts of England served by Welsh Water.

They include university professors, retired water employees and trade unionists, accountants, farmers, solicitors — a broad cross-section of the community.

Seventeen are women.

The company they control was conceived in the dying days of the break-up of the Welsh conglomerate Hyder which owned Welsh Water and South Wales Electricity.

Hyder had been created when Welsh Water bought South Wales Electricity in 1996.

WATER MILLIONAIRE  One of the key architects of Glas Cymru, Chris Jones is the current chief executive. In the 14 years of the company's existence he has prospered — awarded nearly £4 million in salary, pensions, annual and long-term bonuses.   Photo: Glas Cymru

LIQUID ENGINEER
ONE OF THE key architects of Glas Cymru, Chris Jones is the current chief executive. In 2001 the company farmed out almost all of its activities to other English utilites — leaving just 130 staff. Until most of these activities were brought back in-house in recent years, Glas Cymru was more a finance company than a genuine water business. Jones is well-rewarded — picking up more than £3.5 million in salary, annual and long-term bonuses in the past 14 years. 
Photo: Glas Cymru

Hyder expanded disastrously and was soon burdened with debt.

In the 1990s Labour accused the privatised water and electricity companies of profiteering.

When it came to power in 1997, the new government quickly imposed a £282 million “windfall tax” on Hyder.

Hyder’s share price collapsed.

It was eventually taken over by the US energy giant Western Power Distribution who were mainly interested in the electricity business.

Two young Hyder executives — Nigel Annett and Chris Jones — came up with the idea of creating a not-for-profit company and using money raised on the international bond market to buy Welsh Water.

Annett was a former merchant banker and Jones had been a civil servant at the Treasury when the water industry was privatised.

Western Power Distribution indicated that it was willing to sell Welsh Water — if Annett and Jones could raise the money.

Annett and Jones began to assemble a board of directors.

They recruited Lord Burns — former Treasury Permanent Secretary — to chair the new company.

Another appointment was Alison Carnwath, also a merchant banker.

Recently retired Controller of BBC Wales, Geraint Talfan Davies, also joined the team.

LORD BURNS  TERRY BURNS welcoming the new chancellor Gordon Brown to the Treasury after Labour's 1997 victory. The Permanent Secretary left the post the following year and was made a Life Peer. Lord Burns was to play an important role at Glas Cymru — and was handsomely rewarded for his contribution. Photo: PA

LORD BURNS
TERRY BURNS welcoming the new chancellor Gordon Brown to the Treasury after Labour’s 1997 victory. The Permanent Secretary left the post the following year and was made a Life Peer. Lord Burns was to play an important role at Glas Cymru — and was handsomely rewarded for his contribution.
Photo: PA

In May 2001 Glas Cymru raised £1,910 million on the bond market and took control of the company.

That same month the existing managing director of Welsh Water, Dr Mike Brooker, joined the board.

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IN 2001 the directors of Glas Cymru faced a fundamental choice about how they were going to be rewarded.

They had two models to choose from.

They could follow the nine other companies in the water sector in England — companies like the giant Thames Water which supplied water and sewerage services to London.

These were companies controlled by shareholders who expected a return on their investment.

The directors were rewarded with substantial salaries and pensions, bonus schemes and lucrative share option schemes.

This was the “Capitalist Nine” option.

Or the Glas Cymru directors could choose the publicly controlled model in Scotland and Northern Ireland where water had not been privatised.

There were three water authorities in Scotland and a single body for Northern Ireland.

These were spartan undertakings where the board were paid decent amounts but had to forego the valuable perks of their counterparts in the rest of the UK.

This was the “Public Sector Four” route.

Glas Cymru’s not-for-profit structure and its early statements suggested it should have been more sympathetic to the “Public Sector Four” club.

In 2001 a company press release was clear — Welsh Water:

” … a monopoly providing an essential public service, is a very low risk business.”

But the board members decided to follow the “Capitalist Nine” when it came to their pay and conditions.

This meant that the pay of the full-time directors would be decided by the non-executives while the latter’s fees would be decided by the entire board.

Soon after the company was formed, Annett and Jones were each awarded a £100,000 bonus.

By 2003 it was clear what the remuneration policy meant in practice.

In that year Scottish Water, a merger of the country’s three water authorities, was created under public control.

The new Scottish Water was far larger than Glas Cymru — its turnover in 2003 was £895 million, compared to the £462 million of Welsh Water.

The chief executive of Scottish Water was paid £175,000 in 2003.

Glas Cymru’s managing director, Dr Mike Brooker, was paid £311,000.

WATER NOT WINE First Minister Alex Salmond is having none of the English "fat cat" syndrome on his patch. The much larger Scottish Water pays less than half the amount Glas Cymru feels it needs to pay its chairman and non-executive directors Photo: PA

WATER NOT WINE
FIRST MINISTER Alex Salmond is having none of the English and Welsh “fat cat” syndrome on his patch. The much larger Scottish Water pays less than half the amount Glas Cymru feels it needs to pay its chairman and non-executive directors
Photo: PA

The chairman of Scottish Water was paid £70,000 compared to the £140,000 taken by Lord Burns, Glas Cymru’s chairman.

Ordinary non-executives in Scotland were paid £18,000 — their counterparts in Wales, like Geraint Talfan Davies, were awarded £35,000.

Fast forward to 2013 and the gap had widened.

Scottish Water’s chief executive’s £252,000 package was less than half of the £538,000 taken home by his then Glas Cymru counterpart Nigel Annett.

Glas Cymru’s new chairman, former British Airways boss Bob Ayling, was paid £204,000 — more than double what Scottish Water felt its chairman deserved.

Non-executive directors of Glas Cymru were paid £56,000 while their Scottish colleagues had to make do with an average of £22,500.

Glas Cymru stoutly defends its remuneration policy:

“Despite Welsh Water being equivalent in scale to that of one of the largest FTSE 250 companies, the Chief Executive’s remuneration (July 2013) was less than half of the average FTSE 250 CEO [chief executive officer].

“We provide drinking water of the highest quality and reliable sanitation to 3 million people; manage over 550 service reservoirs; 27,000km of water mains; over 30,000km of sewers and over 800 wastewater treatment works.”

“The scale and complexity of providing such an essential service warrants directors of the highest calibre and appropriate remuneration packages.”

Geraint Talfan Davies is the only member of the Glas Cymru to publish a version of the company’s history.

Yet this account — in his book At Arms Length — is curiously muted about the achievements of Glas Cymru.

GERAINT TALFAN DAVIES  A MEMBER of the powerful Talfan Davies clan, the former BBC Wales Controller became one of the highest paid non-executives in Welsh corporate history when he joined the board of Glas Cymru, the company that owns Welsh Water. He was later joined by Menna Richards, the friend who succeeded him at BBC Wales. It was his son, Rhodri, who took over BBC Wales after Menna Richards departed — a saga explored in the Rebecca Television article The Son Of The Man From Uncle.                                                                 Photo: Seren Books

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY, OBE
GERAINT TALFAN DAVIES made nearly £500,000 as a non-executive director of Glas Cymru. The former BBC Wales Controller became one of the highest paid non-executives in Welsh corporate history when he joined the board of Glas Cymru in 2000. He was later joined by Menna Richards, the friend who succeeded him at BBC Wales — she’s currently paid £56,000 a year for her part-time role at Glas Cymru. Photo: Seren Books.    

Just three paragraphs are devoted to the company in a book of more than 350 pages.

There’s no mention of the “customer dividend” which, by the time he finished writing the book, had reached nearly £50 million.

Was he aware that the board faced the possibility that some journalist might come along and make the damaging comparison with Scottish Water?

And that, while the directors were lining their pockets, customers were losing out?

We put these questions to him.

He didn’t reply.

♦♦♦

IT WAS two years before Welsh Water customers began to benefit from the new structure.

In 2003-04 the company began to pay a dividend to its customers.

In this first year the average customer got a rebate of £9 — worth £12 million in all.

The company continued to pay a dividend — it later became known as the “customer dividend”— until 2010.

In that year the “customer dividend” amounted to £28 million — an average payment of £22 for every household.

The total given back to customers was £150 million.

But in 2010, as the world-wide recession kicked in, the company decided that it would suspend the dividend “until prudent to do so”.

The new chairman, former British Airways boss Bob Ayling, said average bills would fall by 7 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

He added:

” … the board has decided that our customers’ interests are best served by accelerating future planned investment to improve the reliability and quality of the essential public service our customers rely on …”

REWARDS Nigel Annett collecting his CBE at Windsor Castle earlier this year. He made over £4 million in his years as a director of Glas Cymru. photo: PA

WATER GONG
NIGEL ANNETT collecting his CBE at Windsor Castle earlier this year. One of the key figures in Glas Cymru, the former merchant banker was part of a team obsessed with the company’s credit rating. Between 2001 and 2010 part of the team’s bonus came from improvements in this rating. Better credit ratings came largely from increased company reserves — money Rebecca Television believes should have gone to customers. Annett was paid more than £4 million in his years as a director of Glas Cymru.  Photo: PA

Glas Cymru said that, by 2015, £136 million would be spent on this additional capital programme.

Rebecca Television believes this money should have gone to the company’s hard-pressed customers in the form of a cash dividend.

And our analysis suggests it should have formed part of a total rebate of at least £250 million.

In the period Glas Cymru was giving back £150 million to its customers, South West Water — a company roughly the same size — was paying more than £700 million in dividends to its shareholders …

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THE OWNER of Scottish Water — the Scottish Government — has given up its right to a dividend from the company.

As a result, the regulator can impose lower charges.

In 2014 Scottish Water’s average bill was £339 compared to Welsh Water’s £445 — one of the highest in the UK.

To be fair, it is notoriously difficult to compare one water company’s charges with another.

Completely different circumstances — such as geography, population densities — apply.

However, the trend of pricing is significant.

In 2005 Scottish Water harmonised all of its charging into one integrated system.

In that year the average household bill was, in todays prices, £379.

This year that bill is £339 — £40 a year lower.

In 2005, Glas Cymru’s bill was £396 in today’s money.

This year it’s £445 — £49 a year higher.

Against that increase, Welsh Water can say that it gave consumers back £150 million in the form of “customer dividends” over its 14 year history.

But the value of the £40 reduction in the Scottish Water bill is probably worth £100 million in this year alone.

In March last year Jonson Cox, chairman of the water regulator Ofwat which covers England and Wales, gave a lecture.

“Customers, particularly vulnerable customers, are having a tough time,” he said.

JONSON COX Chairman of the water regulator OFWAT,

JONSON COX
CHAIRMAN OF the water regulator Ofwat, Jonson Cox has pointed out that water companies made higher profits than expected in the period 2010-2015. He called on water companies to share some of their good fortune with customers.   Photo: Ofwat

He noted that, across the industry, bills had risen by 7 per cent in real terms since 2005.

He added ” … over the same period there have been reductions in some household incomes of as much 5 per cent.”

He noted that the sector had enjoyed higher profits because of lower interest rates and higher inflation.

“Given that the licence relates to a long-term monopoly public service, I would have hoped that companies would have shared gains that derive from external factors with their customers (‘gainshare’) …”

He added that Glas Cymru’s structure

“… does provide a form of gainshare with customers …”

But, despite making windfall profits in the period 2010-15, Welsh Water gave none of it back to its customers in the form of cash.

And its figure of £150 million in “customer dividends” has to be treated with some reserve.

Many of the other private equity water companies also gave rebates.

For example, in 2006 South West Water made huge profits and gave each customer a rebate of £20 at a cost of nearly £15 million.

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SO WHAT should the “customer dividend” have been? 

The regulator Ofwat pays close attention to water companies “gearing”.

This is the ratio of debt to what Ofwat calls the Regulatory Capital Value.

By the end of next year, the company expects to have a Regulatory Capital Value of £4,800 million.

The company has debts of £2,900 million.

Glas Cymru’s gearing is 60 per cent.

When Ofwat was preparing its pricing structure for the industry in the period 2015-2020, it believed gearing “should be in the range of 60 to 70 per cent.”

So Glas Cymru is currently right at the bottom of the range.

The lower the percentage, the less is available to pay a “customer dividend”.

The higher the percentage, the more money is available to give back to consumers.

So a straightforward approach would be to say that Welsh Water should go for 65 per cent — bang in the middle of Ofwat’s range.

So what does that five percent mean in terms of a potential “customer dividend”?

The arithmetic is complex but in crude terms it means Glas Cymru could have given back an additional £250 million over the past 14 years.

♦♦♦

ALL IS not lost.

Although the Rebecca Television investigation shows that customers have been denied £250 million of badly needed cash refunds, the money hasn’t been stolen.

Of course, millions of pounds have been pocketed by the board — but that’s only a fraction of the total sum.

Some of the money — £136 million — was spent on additional capital projects.

That is, on improvements to the infrastructure over and above what the regulator Ofwat required.

Rebecca Television asked Glas Cymru if that money could have used instead to pay “customer dividends”.

“Correct”, was the response of a spokesman.

The rest of the £250 million lies in the company’s £1,900 million reserves.

♦♦♦

THE AGM next Friday has the power to remedy the situation.

The 57 ordinary members can instruct the board to restore the “customer dividend” with immediate effect.

And they could order the board to find the most cost-effective way to repay the rest of the £250 million cash bonus it owes customers for the period up to 2015.

Rebecca Television has written to First Minister Carwyn Jones about this investigation.

The Welsh Government has no powers to intervene in the affairs of the company.

CARWYN JONES Rebecca Television has  waof the atasked him to investigate Glas Cymru's stewardship

CARWYN JONES
Rebecca Television has asked Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to investigate Glas Cymru’s handling of the “customer dividend” issue. Labour is campaigning about the “cost of living” crisis for ordinary working people — and a refund from Glas Cymru would be welcomed by many hard-pressed families in Wales.  Photo: PA

But it does have a moral right to speak out on behalf of more than a million Welsh customers if it feels they’re being unfairly treated.

We also asked him to examine the constitution of the company.

In particular, the fact that ordinary members meet formally only twice a year, have no structure of their own, have no secretariat and no research officer.

We also sent a copy of the letter to the leaders of Plaid Cymru, Welsh Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

None had replied before this article went on-line.

♦♦♦

GLAS CYMRU was angry we had sent the letter before they had a chance to answer the last set of questions we put to them.

“It is very disappointing that you have issued this letter to the First Minister before receiving our final response,” a spokesman said.

“Your hypothesis that customers have been short-changed is wrong.”

The company says it would “be remiss of you” not to acknowledge that

— throughout the decade 2010-2020 bills will have risen by less than the rate of inflation

— in the same period, £3 billion will be invested in improvements to service

— the company’s good credit rating allows it to borrow cheaply, keeping bills lower than they otherwise would be: “a win, win for our customers”

— £250 million has been returned to customers either through dividends, accelerated investment, social tariffs and lower bills

— this is money “that in any other company would have gone to shareholders”

— customer satisfaction and “perception of value for money ranks us either top or second compared to other companies …”

— Glas Cymru adds £1,000 million to the Welsh economy

— although the 57 ordinary members meet formally only twice a year, other meetings with high-profile experts also take place

— the company also has a Customer Challenge Group which scrutinises the company’s plans.

In another statement, the added that its social tariffs helped 64,000 households in Wales compared to 72,000 for the whole of England.

Glas Cymru said it is

“proud of its unique non-shareholder business model which has delivered significant benefits to our customers in the form of lower bills and increased investment.”

Many of these points had been made in earlier responses to our questions.

Some we disagree with.

Others are irrelevant.

The fundamental point is that every penny Glas Cymru is talking about comes from consumers.

And the plain fact is that the actual direct cash benefit most customers have seen from Glas Cymru’s stewardship of Welsh Water is pitifully small.

The money given back to customers is £150 million — just 2 per cent of the £8,500 million they’ve paid out in bills.

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IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER?

June 18, 2014

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WHEN RHODRI Talfan Davies takes his leave as Director of BBC Wales in the years ahead, will he once again follow in his father’s footsteps?

It’s become the practice of departing Directors to take up one of the best paid part-time jobs in Wales — a directorship in Glas Cymru.

Glas Cymru owns Welsh Water and claims to be a “not-for-profit” business with customers as its “sole” concern.

But a forthcoming Rebecca Television investigation will claim consumers have been cheated of £100 million.

It’s the board of directors who really benefit.

When Geraint Talfan Davies left BBC Wales in 1999, he helped set up Glas Cymru — and soaked up more than £450,000 in fees in his decade with the company.

He was still there when his friend Menna Richards, who succeeded him as BBC Wales Director, was appointed to the Glas Cymru board in November 2010.

She currently gets £57,000 a year for her part-time role.

Talfan Davies and Richards are part of the tight-knit group which controls Welsh broadcasting.

Rebecca Television continues its investigation of this media clique — and asks if the axing of a controversial series in the late 1990s was part of a strategy to secure the succession at BBC Wales …

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WHEN GERAINT Talfan Davies left the BBC at the end of 1999 he was only 56 years old.

“I have always been clear that I wanted to retire from the BBC while I still have the energy and the appetite to pursue new avenues,” he said at the time.

Within months he’d been recruited to become the Welsh face of a dramatic take-over of the Welsh water industry.

At the time, Welsh Water had swallowed South Wales Electricity and become Hyder plc.

GERAINT TALFAN DAVIES  A MEMBER of the powerful Talfan Davies clan, the former BBC Wales Controller became one of the highest paid non-executives in Welsh corporate history when he joined the board of Glas Cymru, the company that owns Welsh Water. He was later joined by Menna Richards, the friend who succeeded him at BBC Wales. It was his son, Rhodri, who took over BBC Wales after Menna Richards departed — a saga explored in the Rebecca Television article The Son Of The Man From Uncle.                                                                 Photo: Seren Books

GERAINT TALFAN DAVIES
A MEMBER of the powerful Talfan Davies clan, the former head of BBC Wales became one of the highest paid non-executives in Welsh corporate history when he joined the board of Glas Cymru, the company that owns Welsh Water. He was later joined by Menna Richards, the friend who succeeded him at BBC Wales. It was his son, Rhodri, who took over BBC Wales after Menna Richards departed — a saga explored in the Rebecca Television article The Son Of The Man From Uncle.     Photo: Seren Books

But the two privatised utilities made huge profits and in 1997 the new Labour government hit Hyder with a massive combined £282 million “windfall tax” on its excess electricity and water profits.

The water regulator Ofwat, stung by accusations that it had been too lenient on the sector, also waded in with what looked like draconian new price caps.

This “double whammy” left Hyder sinking under a wave of debt.

Its share price sank and predators closed in.

It came down to a battle between the Japanese investment bank Nomura and the US power conglomerate Western Power Distribution.

The Americans won.

But they only wanted the electricity business — and quickly agreed to sell Welsh Water to a new company called Glas Cymru.

Glas Cymru, a company limited by guarantee, agreed to take over Welsh Water’s massive debt burden.

It did so by borrowing the money from the bond market.

The idea was the brainchild of two senior executives who worked for Welsh Water — former merchant banker Nigel Annett and ex-Treasury official Chris Jones.

They brought in former Treasury Permanent Secretary Terry Burns to chair the outfit.

And Geraint Talfan Davies was recruited to become the Welsh face of the enterprise.

Glas Cymru has always presented itself as a people’s company — with no shareholders, it claims, “our only purpose is to deliver the best outcomes for our customers.”

It points to £150 million worth of “customer dividends” — £139 for every customer — paid out since 2001.

However, a forthcoming Rebecca Television investigation will reveal that consumers should have done far better.

An article entitled The Great Welsh Water Robbery argues that consumers have been cheated of £100 million in the last four years alone.

The final tally could run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Great Welsh Water Robbery will be published next week.

While Welsh Water’s more than one million domestic customers have been short-changed, the directors have done exceedingly well.

By the time he resigned as a part-time non-executive director in March 2011, Geraint Talfan Davies was earning £54,000 a year.

In the ten years he was on the board, his total haul from the company was £452,500.

Unlike Geraint Talfan Davies, Menna Richards was appointed a non-executive director at Glas Cymru while she still Director of BBC Wales.

She took up the Glas Cymru role in November 2010 — two weeks after she announced her intention to leave BBC Wales.

She didn’t leave the Corporation until February 2011.

Her appointment is understood to have caused concern at the BBC.

MISS PRINCIPALITY  Menna Richards has taken the two-step routine (BBC Wales to Glas Cymru) pioneered by her friend and mentor Geraint Talfan Davies and given it another twist. She's turned it into a conga by also becoming a non-executive director of the Principality Building Society — following in the footsteps of current Glas Cymru chief executive Chris Jones. The post adds another £45,000 a year to her annual bank balance and increases her clout as one the "great and the good" of Welsh public life.  Photo: PA

MISS PRINCIPALITY
Menna Richards has taken the two-step — BBC Wales to Glas Cymru — routine pioneered by her friend and mentor Geraint Talfan Davies and given it another twist. She’s turned it into a conga by also becoming a non-executive director of the Principality Building Society — following in the footsteps of Glas Cymru chief executive Chris Jones. The post adds another £45,000 a year to her annual bank balance and increases her clout as one the “great and the good” of Welsh public life.
Photo: PA

In its accounts, Glas Cymru states that Menna Richards did not receive any fees until 1 March 2011.

This was after she had finally left BBC Wales.

She’s already one of the most trusted non-executive directors on the Glas Cymru board — for six months in 2013 she was the acting senior non-executive director at an annual rate of £67,500.

By March 2014 she had received total fees of £177,750.

♦♦♦

WE ASKED Glas Cymru to explain the high levels of fees it awards non-executive directors.

Compared to a company like Cardiff-based Admiral Insurance, a successful business operating in one of the most competitive markets in British capitalism, Glas Cymru’s fees appear excessive.

With a turnover of £2.2 billion, Admiral has to fight for every customer‚ unlike Welsh Water whose £717 million income in 2013 came almost entirely from captive customers paying fixed prices.

Back in 2001, a Glas Cymru press release was clear — Welsh Water “… a monopoly providing an essential public service, is a very low risk business.”

Admiral made a pre-tax profit of nearly £350 million in 2012 — but still managed to pay two of its non-executive directors less than Menna Richards.

It took three rounds of questions before Glas Cymru finally came up with a justification for the pay of non-executive directors:

“Regardless of our ‘not-for-profit’ model, we must attract the highest calibre of directors to ensure that the company continues to perform to the highest levels,” a spokesman said.

“Our business provides essential public services and so is heavily regulated by numerous independent bodies, which means we need a high quality board which can provide a credible commitment to good governance for our regulators and bond investors.”

It said that non-executive fees are “reviewed annually” with independent advice from outside consultants.

And it added that the “members” of Glas Cymru — the 59 people appointed to act as the owners of the company — “vote annually on directors’ remuneration.”

The need to attract the “highest calibre” people to run the board doesn’t seem to apply to the “members” who actually control the company.

They’re paid nothing.

♦♦♦

THERE’S ANOTHER UK business which is directly comparable to Glas Cymru — Scottish Water, owned by the Scottish Government.

Water was never privatised in Scotland.

Scottish Water, the result of the merger of three local authorities in 2002, is much bigger than Welsh Water.

Its revenue of £1.1 billion outstrips Glas Cymru’s £717 million.

So you might expect its non-executive directors to be paid more.

Not a bit of it.

Scottish Water’s non-executive salaries are decided by First Minister Alex Salmond and his cabinet.

The average basic fee for a non-executive director in 2013 was £22,000.

That’s less than half of the £57,000 Menna Richards currently receives at Glas Cymru.

And Scottish Water doesn’t seem to have any trouble finding “high calibre” people to take these jobs.

After Menna Richards  took up the Glas Cymru post, the Western Mail newspaper published a letter from a Glynneath reader called Jack Kearns:

“She follows Geraint Talfan Davies who preceded her as controller of BBC Wales,” he wrote, “so could it be whoever replaces Menna Richards will be assured of a long and high-salary future with BBC Wales and then Welsh Water?”

RHODRI TALFAN DAVIES There is speculation that the current BBC Wales Director Rhodri Talfan Davies will follow in the footsteps of both his father and Menna Richards and join the board of Glas Cymru in the years to come. We asked him if this was on the cards — he did not reply. Photo: BBC Wales

RHODRI TALFAN DAVIES
THERE’S ALREADY speculation that the current BBC Wales Director, Rhodri Talfan Davies, will follow in the footsteps of both his father and Menna Richards and join the board of Glas Cymru in the years to come. We asked him if this was on the cards — he did not reply.
Photo: BBC Wales

Kearns’ letter was published before it was announced that Rhodri Talfan Davies would replace Menna Richards as BBC Wales Director.

We asked Rhodri Talfan Davies if he had any plans to follow his father onto the Glas Cymru board.

This was one of a raft of questions we put to the BBC Wales press office on June 2.

No answers were forthcoming.

We emailed Geraint Talfan Davies for a response.

We also asked Menna Richards to comment.

Neither replied by the time this article was posted.

♦♦♦

THE TALFAN Davies clan aren’t the only family to have prospered at the BBC.

Relatives of Menna Richards have also done well.

In the period she was Director of BBC Wales, her sister Ceri Wyn Richards won more than a million pounds worth of commissions from the broadcaster.

Ceri Wyn Richards is a former BBC Wales staffer who once held the post of Editor, Radio Cymru.

In the early 2000s she and her husband, producer Mark Jones, set up an independent company called Torpedo Limited.

For eight years the company waxed prosperous on the back of commissions from BBC Wales.

As a small company, Torpedo did not have to declare the salaries of its two directors in its annual accounts.

But its balance sheet was healthy — and the company, which was paid in advance by BBC Wales, always reported “cash in hand and at the bank” of between £100,000 and £260,000 throughout the decade.

For the first four years of her time as Director, the BBC did not declare Menna Richards’ interest in Torpedo or the amount of work the Corporation was awarding her sister’s company.

In 2005-06, however, the BBC’s annual report and accounts began listing the amount of work the company was being awarded.

The figures were surprisingly high:

— in 2005-06, Torpedo received £324,000 worth of work

— in 2006-07, the figure rose to £360,000

— in 2007-08, contracts dipped to £321,000

— in 2008-09, the amount declined to £147,000.

The reason the figure fell in that year was that there was a crisis at Torpedo at the end of 2008.

The marriage between Ceri Wyn Richards and Mark Jones hit the rocks — and the partnership that created Torpedo foundered.

In the four-year period 2005-9, the company earned £1,153,000 — making it one of the most successful Welsh broadcasting independents.

We asked BBC Wales for the figures for the period 2001 to 2004.

Again, there was no response.

In December 2008 a new company, Parrog Limited, was registered at an address in Whitchurch, Cardiff.

This was the home of Menna Richards and her husband Patrick Hannan.

A widely respected BBC journalist, Hannan signed the documents which set up the company.

For the first six months of 2009, he was the sole director and holder of the company’s only share.

In June 2009, Ceri Wyn Richards also became a director of the company.

The following month, Patrick Hannan resigned.

(Diagnosed with cancer, he was to die in October 2009 at the age of 68).

In the summer of 2009, an anonymous letter was sent to national newspapers in London drawing attention to the links between Menna Richards and her sister’s companies.

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ON THE surface, the Parrog affair caused hardly any ripples at the BBC. Behind the scenes, however, there were reports of considerable unease in London about the Director’s close ties with the company. Some observers believe the issue may have played a part in Menna Richards’ ultimate decision to leave the Corporation in 2010…

It also pointed out that Menna Richards’ husband was a director  of Parrog and that the company’s registered office was their home.

In August 2009 Jenny Rathbone, a Labour Parliamentary candidate for one of the Cardiff constituencies, learnt of the allegations.

Rathbone, a former producer of the BBC 2 Money Programme and a Labour councillor in the London borough of Islington, wrote to BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons.

Four days later, he wrote back to say the matter was an “operational” issue — he’d passed her letter on to deputy Director-General Mark Byford.

The next day Rathbone received a reply from the BBC’s Chief Operating Officer, Caroline Thomson.

She wrote:

“I can reassure you that Menna Richards has declared all business relationships between the BBC and members of her family in line with … stringent conflict of interest policies.”

“I am satisfied that she has had no involvement in the management of either Torpedo Ltd or Parrog Ltd, and has no role in the commissioning of any independent production companies.

Thomson added that the “BBC will be responding to your letter more fully in due course.”

Rathbone — currently a Labour member of the National Assembly in Cardiff — doesn’t remember receiving a second letter.

The BBC’s accounts for the year 2009-2010 made no mention of either Menna Richards — who had served throughout the year — or the value of any commissions obtained by Parrog.

In November 2010 Menna Richards announced that she was stepping down as Director and eventually left in February 2011.

Again, the BBC accounts for 2010-2011 did not mention her or Parrog.

Parrog’s own accounts indicate that, in the four years between 2009 and 2013, the amount of work does not seem to have reached the levels Torpedo achieved.

The company’s cash balances ranged from £67,000 to £100,000.

We asked BBC Wales for details of commissions the company received from the Corporation.

Once again, the press office failed to provide a response.

♦♦♦

THE PROFESSIONAL relationship between Menna Richards and Geraint Talfan Davies began at HTV Wales in the 1980s.

After eight years at BBC Wales, Menna Richards moved to HTV Wales in 1983 to become a journalist and presenter on the Welsh language current affairs programme Y Byd Ar Bedwar.

At the time Geraint Talfan Davies was HTV Wales’ Assistant Controller of Programmes.

His uncle Sir Alun Talfan Davies was coming to the end of his term as chairman of HTV’s Welsh board.

Menna Richards’ managerial career did not begin until Geraint Talfan Davies had left HTV.

In 1987 Talfan Davies moved to Newcastle to take up the post of Director of Programmes at Tyne Tees TV.

By 1990, he was back in Cardiff 1990 as Director — at the time the title was Controller —  of BBC Wales.

A year later Menna Richards began to climb the managerial ladder at HTV Wales.

First she was appointed Controller of Factual and General programmes, then in 1993 she became Director of Programmes.

By the mid 1990s she was emerging as a powerful figure in Welsh broadcasting — and a potential successor to Geraint Talfan Davies as head of BBC Wales.

In 1996 there was a revealing internal argument at HTV Wales which suggests she may have begun positioning herself as a candidate for the top job at BBC Wales.

Bruce Kennedy, a former editor of the channel’s Wales This Week current affairs series, was in charge of commissioning programmes from the independent sector.

He decided to make a series about the scandal-torn Welsh Development Agency (WDA) to coincide with its 21st anniversary in 1997.

From 1988 to 1993, the Agency’s chairman had been the charismatic but controversial self-made businessman, Dr Gwyn Jones.

In the late 1980s Jones outflanked the traditional Welsh establishment by persuading Welsh Secretary Peter Walker to appoint him to head the Agency.

Within months, he increased the number of days he was working from two and a half to four days a week.

He became a favourite of Margaret Thatcher — when she made one of her few visits to Wales in 1989, she extolled Jones’ virtues: “I just want to say what a marvellous chap they’ve got at the Welsh Development Agency.”

DR GWYN JONES WHEN THE self-proclaimed millionaire was appointed chairman of the Welsh Development Agency in 1989, he was in need of some hard cash. He persuaded the Agency to buy his Jaguar for £26,000 and later lied to Parliament about the reasons why it was a good deal for the quango. In the 2000s his career declined — he is now Director of Essex University Business School. Photo: Essex University

DR GWYN JONES
WHEN THE self-proclaimed millionaire was appointed chairman of the Welsh Development Agency in 1988, he was in need of some hard cash. He persuaded the Agency to buy his Jaguar for £26,000 and later lied to Parliament about the reasons why it was a good deal for the quango. In the 2000s his career declined — he’s now Director of Essex University’s Business School.
Photo: Essex University

By 1992, he had been appointed the BBC’s National Governor for Wales.

He also used the patronage of senior Tories as a springboard to more powerful posts.

One of his contacts was the merchant banker and freemason Sir Michael Richardson, a personal friend of Margaret Thatcher.

Vice-chairman of the powerful N M Rothschild merchant bank, Richardson secured Jones a series of profitable directorships.

In 1992 Jones also became a director of Tesco — and stayed until 1998.

But as he was beginning his rise through the ranks of corporate Britain, turmoil erupted at the WDA.

Jones’ abrasive style provoked conflict with senior staff — one was paid off with a controversial payoff.

He also made jaw-dropping appointments — one of them a conman who Jones hired as the agency’s marketing director without checking his CV.

The crook was later gaoled.

There were also scandals about unauthorised perks and Jones was accused of obtaining an Agency grant for one scheme and then using it for another.

In December 1992 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) called in Jones and other officials.

Days before the hearing, Jones announced he would leave the Agency in 1993.

The PAC report was damning of the Agency and its political masters at the Welsh Office — it was:

“.. unacceptable that the Welsh Office took no action against anyone in the top echelons of the Agency who presided over a catalogue of serious and inexcusable breaches of expected standards …”

It was this back story which persuaded Bruce Kennedy that a series about the history of the Agency would be a worthwhile project.

He asked Paddy French, then an independent TV producer and currently the editor of Rebecca Television, to carry out the research.

At the time, French did not realise the series would itself become a pawn in a political intrigue …

♦♦♦

THE RESEARCH for the series began at the end of 1995.

French spent several weeks going through the history of the WDA.

Concerned that the series would be stale and academic, he felt it needed a dramatic revelation to bring it alive.

He decided that the most promising line of attack lay in the curious affair of Dr Jones’ Jaguar.

The WDA had authorised a dealer to buy the Jaguar off Jones in March 1989 for £26,000 — the market rate.

The Agency then signed a new lease with the dealer for the Jaguar to become the chairman’s car.

All costs were paid by the Agency.

Jones insisted the deal was a good one for the WDA.

When the Public Affairs Committee grilled him about it, in 1996, he made a remarkable claim.

He insisted that it was cheaper for the Agency to buy the car than to continue paying him mileage.

He told the Committee:

” … when it became clear how many days and how much travel I was doing — and that was working out something like 60,000 miles a year, which I have maintained for the period of my chairmanship — in a discussion it was put to me that it would be financially beneficial to the Agency if I went on to a different car scheme.”

Committee member Alan Williams, MP for Swansea West, was not persuaded:

“Really, it was an act of generosity on your part to the WDA rather than the other way around. Is that it?”

ALAN WILLIAMS THE MP didn't believe  Dr Gwyn Jones was telling the truth when the WDA chairman appeared before the Publis Accounts Committee in 1992. Photo: PA

ALAN WILLIAMS
THE LABOUR MP for Swansea West didn’t believe Dr Gwyn Jones was telling the truth when the WDA chairman appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in 1992.  Photo: PA

Jones replied:

“The arithmetic was such that it would be a lesser cost to the Agency than paying me for 60,000 miles per year at 34.4 pence a mile.”

French was also sceptical.

“Actually, Jones’ own arithmetic completely undermined his own argument,” he said.

“He was claiming he travelled 60,000 miles a year on Agency business.”

“Given the quality of the road system in Wales, the average speed can’t have been more than 50 miles an hour.”

“Divide 60,000 by 50 miles an hour and you get 1,200 hours behind the wheel.”

“Assume a 7 hour day and Jones would have been on the road  for 171 days a year — at a time when he was only paid for two and a half days a week.”

“It was a commonly held view in Wales at the time,” noted French, “that this level of mileage was physically impossible.”

“I felt that Jones’ claim was a serious hostage to fortune.”

“If the Jaguar could be located, its records were likely to show that he had lied to Parliament — a very serious offence.”

♦♦♦

IT TOOK several months to track down the Jaguar.

It had been bought by a relative of BBC presenter Vincent Kane.

The service log showed that in June 1989 — three months after Jones sold it — the Jaguar had only 14,267 miles on the clock.

“The evidence was overwhelming — Jones had lied to Parliament,” said French.

“This was the dramatic revelation the HTV series needed to bring it bang up to date.”

In July 1996 filming started — until a dramatic call from Cardiff intervened.

“The film crew, Bruce Kennedy and I were having lunch in a pub in London when Menna Richards rang,” French remembers.

“Menna asked Bruce Kennedy what was going on and he told her that shooting had started on the series.”

“She told him that filming was to stop — he was to return to Cardiff immediately.”

Shortly afterwards, the new chairman of the WDA, David Rowe-Beddoe, asked to meet the team responsible for the series.

It took place in Rowe-Beddoe’s office at the WDA’s HQ in Cardiff and was attended by Kennedy, French and HTV’s head of news and current affairs, Elis Owen.

DAVID ROWE-BEDDOE ANOTHER BUSINESSMAN who supported the Tories, David Rowe-Bedoe — seen here at the official opening of the Wales Millennium Centre in 19xx — was opposed to HTV Wales broadcasting a series about the Welsh Development Agency

DAVID ROWE-BEDDOE
ANOTHER BUSINESSMAN who supported the Tories, David Rowe-Beddoe — seen here at the official opening of the Wales Millennium Centre — took over from Dr Gwyn Jones as WDA chairman. He was opposed to HTV Wales broadcasting a series about the troubled history of the Agency.                                                                                                         Photo: PA

Rowe-Beddoe tried to persuade them the series should not be made.

The three journalists insisted the programmes were in the public interest.

The next day Bruce Kennedy met with Menna Richards.

Richards said she wasn’t persuaded the series was editorially sound.

There was, she said, nothing new in it, it was boring and she even had her doubts about the Jaguar story.

In a memo written a week later, Kennedy said he was “surprised” and “unprepared” at her tone.

He added:

“I am concerned at the growing suggestion that in some way we (notably me) are trying to keep you ignorant of the true nature of the WDA programme.”

“There seems to be a suggestion that the research is not up to the standard required to substantiate some of the points we are making.”

“All I can say is that the research I’ve seen Paddy French conduct is second to none.”

“I think the research Elis and I have conducted must stand for you to judge.”

Five days after this memo was sent, Menna Richards axed the series.

No attempt was made to use the new material about the Jaguar in any other programme.

Bruce Kennedy has never believed that censorship was the reason for Menna Richards’ decision.

For him, it was simply a difference of editorial opinions.

He left HTV Wales shortly afterwards.

French, though, was not convinced that it was just a matter of editorial judgement.

“There are two reasons why I felt outside factors may have played a part,” he said.

“The first is that I believe that Menna Richards was building up a formidable CV as a candidate to take over as Controller of BBC Wales from Geraint Talfan Davies.

“The only glaring gap in her CV was that senior BBC executives are expected to have had wider experience than just broadcasting.”

“Up to that point, Menna Richards’ career was entirely in broadcasting.”

“She needed a stint as a director of another, unrelated public body.”

“And to land such an appointment, she needed the support of the business establishment, including people like David Rowe-Beddoe.”

“A programme critical of the WDA was likely to antagonise that community.”

(The gap in her CV was later plugged when she was appointed a director of the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, serving until the quango was wound up in 2000.)

“The second reason was that Gwyn Jones was still the BBC’s National Governor for Wales.”

“It would have been obvious to Menna Richards that the Corporation would prefer to avoid the embarrassment of a programme that exposed its National Governor for Wales as a man who had lied to Parliament.”

We asked Menna Richards to comment.

She didn’t reply.

But that was far from the end of the story.

Within months of the decision to axe the WDA series, Menna Richards abruptly reversed her decision — and cleared the decks for an HTV broadside against Dr Jones.

♦♦♦

IN THE autumn of 1996 it was widely assumed Dr Gwyn Jones would not seek another term as National Governor for Wales. 

His reputation had been damaged by the Public Accounts Committee and it was assumed he would move on to pastures new when his term ended in December.

However, Jones began to indicate that he thought differently.

The position of National Governor for Wales gave him a seat on the BBC’s UK Board of Governors and was an immensely influential platform.

Word began to circulate in Cardiff that he was canvassing for a second term.

“This really put the cat among the pigeons,” recalls French.

“A second term for Jones would have been a serious blow to Menna Richards’ chances of becoming BBC Wales Controller.”

“HTV had made several highly critical programmes about his chairmanship of the WDA and there was a danger he would not support Menna Richards.”

Inside BBC Wales Jones was not popular among many senior executives and journalists.

In one Broadcasting Council for Wales meeting he had openly attacked the Corporation’s own Week In Week Out series over a programme critical of a WDA land deal.

Many felt this was an attempt to intimidate programme-makers.

Behind the scenes, a secret campaign began to de-rail his campaign.

Part of this campaign was the resurrection of the Jaguar story.

“Out of the blue, HTV Wales suddenly decided that it was time to prepare a profile of the man now seeking a second term at BBC Wales,” said Paddy French.

“It was decided the channel’s current affairs strand, Wales This Week, would rush out a programme — the core of which was the allegation that Jones lied to Parliament over the Jaguar affair.”

“An issue which Menna Richards decided wasn’t newsworthy back in July, was now a matter of vital public interest,” added French.

MENNA RICHARDS WITHIN MONTHS of deciding that a series about the WDA should be axed, Menna Richards authorised an emergency Wales This Week programme about the controversial career of Dr Gwyn Jones' time at the Agency. At its heart, his lies to Parliament about the Jaguar ...  Photo: PA

MENNA RICHARDS, OBE
WITHIN MONTHS of deciding that a series about the WDA should be axed, Menna Richards authorised an emergency Wales This Week programme about the controversial career of Dr Gwyn Jones’ time at the Agency. At its heart, his lies to Parliament about the controversial sale of his Jaguar …
Photo: PA

Menna Richards kept a close eye on the programme — she asked to see a rough version several days before screening.

Jones heard about the programme and wrote to HTV Group chairman, Louis Sherwood, in early December.

Jones pointed out that the last time Wales This Week examined his stewardship of the Agency, he’d had to instruct the libel lawyer Peter Carter Ruck.

The programme went ahead.

The schedule was so tight that the commentary wasn’t laid down until minutes before transmission.

“It was a fraught session,” recalls French, who’d been brought in to help with the production.

“Elis Owen, head of news and current affairs, was in charge — and HTV had a libel barrister on hand to make sure the script was safe.”

The programme was broadcast two weeks before Christmas 1996.

“By then the Welsh establishment had made sure the corridors of power in London were informed about what was coming,” said Paddy French.

“Dr Gwyn Jones — who could also see which way the wind was blowing — decided not to seek a second term as Governor.”

♦♦♦

THE REST is history.

Geraint Talfan Davies left BBC Wales at the end of 1999.

With a Labour government in power, and the Tory grip on the Welsh establishment broken, Menna Richards slipped effortlessly into his shoes…

♦♦♦

COMING UP

GLAS CYMRU, the company that owns Welsh Water, claims it’s run solely for the benefit of consumers. But a Rebecca Television investigation reveals customers have been cheated of £100 million in the last four years. The Great Welsh Water Robbery shows that it’s the executives who control the company — and have become millionaires as a result.

♦♦♦

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CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.


GORDON ANGLESEA RE-BAILED

April 29, 2014

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POLICE BAIL for former North Wales Police superintendent Gordon Anglesea has been extended.

Anglesea was the 18th person to be arrested as part of Operation Pallial  — the re-investigation of historical child abuse allegations in North Wales — in December last year.

At that time he was bailed to appear at a police station this month.

A spokesman for the National Crime Agency, which runs Operation Pallial, told Rebecca Television yesterday that Anglesea answered bail on April 17.

He was then re-bailed until early September.

GORDON ANGLESEA The former North Wales Police superintendent has had his bailed extended until September.  Picture: © Daily Mirror

GORDON ANGLESEA
The former North Wales Police superintendent has had his bail extended until September.
Picture: © Daily Mirror

COMING UP

IT’S ONE of the greatest gravy trains in Welsh history. Glas Cymru — the not-for-profit company which owns Welsh Water — claims its sole concern is the welfare of its customers. But it also takes good care of its directors — paying them mouth-watering sums of money …

♦♦♦

DONATIONS  If you would like to support the work of Rebecca Television, you can do so by clicking on the DONATE button.

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CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.


THE HOUSE OF PICKERING

April 23, 2014


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DAVID PICKERING is one of the most powerful men in Welsh rugby.

As chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union, the former international plays a key role in the running of an enterprise with an annual turnover of £61 million pounds.

But the performance of many of the other businesses he’s been involved with has been disastrous.

A raft of companies have gone bust — costing the public purse more than £4 million in unpaid taxes.

He also has personal county court judgments against him for unpaid debts.

One creditor has even taken a charge against his Cardiff home.

But Pickering has a new game plan.

He’s embarked on a career as a developer in West Wales with a reported half-share in a major industrial estate.

But a Rebecca Television investigation reveals that all is not what it seems…

♦♦♦

ONE OF David Pickering’s oldest companies is about to go under.

Stradey Safety Limited — which supplied workwear and protective equipment to industry for nearly 30 years — appears to have stopped trading.

Pickering owns all the shares in the company and he and his wife Justine are the only directors.

Stradey has failed to file accounts with Companies House and dissolution proceedings have begun.

The last set of accounts — for 2011 — showed the business made a profit that year.

But this simply shaved a small amount off the company’s long-term losses.

The balance sheet showed the firm was worthless — its accumulated debts amounted to £142,000.

DAVID PICKERING The WRU chairman instructed solicitors to take action against Rebecca television.as chairman of the WRU

DAVID PICKERING
One of the men responsible for running the WRU, Pickering has been the subject of many county court judgments ordering him to settle unpaid debts. Photo: PA

The business has often had difficulty paying its way.

A survey carried out by ITV Wales in 2006 showed seven unpaid county court judgments against the company — then known as Pickering Safety Products — totaling nearly £15,000.

When Rebecca Television did a similar survey last month, we found two further judgments.

In May last year, Stradey Safety was ordered by Northampton County Court to pay a debt of £4,800.

The sum was paid two months later.

But by then the same court had told the firm to pay an even larger bill — nearly £28,000.

This wasn’t satisfied until January of this year.

The end of Stradey Safety is the latest chapter in the collapse of a business empire in which David Pickering and his wider family were shareholders.

♦♦♦ 

THE CORE of the business was a string of engineering companies mainly serving the Welsh steel industry. 

These began to fail in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The first to go was a family-owned smelting company called Weldwell Ltd.

This had been a substantial business — in 1994 it had a £1 million turnover.

But profits were small and the company was worth just £14,000.

In the years that followed the position worsened.

In February 1997 HM Customs & Excise obtained a High Court order to wind up the company because of unpaid VAT bills.

David Pickering was a director at the time and held a small personal shareholding.

The amount owed to the HM Customs & Excise was never declared.

After this there was a period of stability in the remaining companies.

And Pickering’s rugby career was flourishing.

In 1998 had been appointed manager of the Wales team under Graham Henry.

He stepped down in 2002 but, in 2003, succeeded Glanmor Griffiths as WRU chairman — a post he holds to this day.

But then in June 2004 disaster struck — two more of the family’s companies went bust.

David Pickering had resigned as a director the previous year and was not involved in their management.

R & R Developments Ltd, a general engineering firm, failed with debts of £2.1 million.

The public purse took a £690,000 hit in unpaid taxes — VAT and employee PAYE and national insurance.

Another company, R & R Industrial Ltd, which supplied labour and engineering services, went down owing £700,000 in unpaid taxes.

Thirteen months later, in July 2005, another five companies collapsed.

Again, Pickering had resigned as a director in the two years before the crash.

And he wasn’t involved in day-to-day management.

PF (Wales) Ltd, a company which supplied labour to the steel industry, crashed with debts of £1.2 million.

Most of this — £800,000 — was taken up with unpaid PAYE and national insurance payments for the 100 employees.

PORT TALBOT The decline of steelmaking in Wales was  a major factor in the collapse of the Pickering family businesses. Picture: PA

PORT TALBOT
The decline of steelmaking in south Wales was a major factor in the collapse of the Pickering family engineering businesses.
Picture: PA

There was a further £200,000 owed in VAT.

R & R Wales Ltd sank with a deficiency of £1.8 million.

The Inland Revenue lost £1.1 million in PAYE and national insurance contributions.

Another £400,000 was owed in VAT.

A further three companies — R & R Roll Developments Ltd , Pontardawe Foundry & Engineering Ltd and BHL Rolls Manufacturing Ltd — also collapsed with combined debts of £1.8 million.

Once again, the public purse was a major loser — £365,000 was owed in PAYE, national insurance and VAT.

By the time the dust settled, the cost to the taxpayer of the crashes of 2004 and 2005 was £4.2 million.

Little of these events ever appeared in the Welsh media.

It wasn’t until the following year that journalists began to examine the business record of these companies …

♦♦♦

IT started with a tip-off in April 2006

ITV Wales News chief reporter Andy Collinson was told David Pickering had county court judgments against him for unpaid bills.

It was a sensitive time for the WRU chairman — a motion of no confidence had been tabled against the committee which controlled the union.

Collinson went to see Paddy French, then a reporter with the Wales This Week current affairs programme and now editor of Rebecca Television.

The story has already been told in the article A Licence To Censor.

This is the relevant extract:

French told him that if the debts were personal, judgments would be kept by the Registry of County Court Judgments in London.

For a small fee, it was possible to search for decisions against any person in England and Wales.

French also suggested that, while he was doing these searches, he should include the companies in which Pickering had an interest.

At the same time, Wales This Week would carry out a financial analysis of Pickering’s companies.

Most of these were engineering companies involved in the Welsh steel industry.

By early May, the results of both searches were in.

Pickering had two judgments against him personally. 

PICKERING TICKET

At Northampton County Court he had been ordered to pay a debt of £1,992 in September 2004. 

In March 2006 Southampton County Court ordered him to repay credit card debts of £17,699 — to Lloyds Bank.

French’s analysis of the clutch of engineering businesses in which Pickering was involved found they were also in trouble.

A proposed Wales This Week programme on Pickering’s business affairs was scrapped on the orders of ITV Wales managing director Elis Owen.

♦♦♦ 

DAVID PICKERING survived the motion of no confidence in 2006.

But the two remaining engineering businesses he was involved in were lame ducks.

He was no longer a director and was not involved in management.

Both soon went out of business.

In October 2006 R & R Group Ltd was dissolved.

The last set of accounts, in July 2003, showed accumulated losses of more than £400,000.

It was worthless.

The same was true of R & R Refractories Ltd, a company which supplied fire bricks for blast furnaces.

The last accounts, in December 2002, revealed accumulated losses of £122,000.

It was dissolved in April 2007.

There was no cost to the public purse in the demise of these companies.

Within two years, however, David Pickering had reinvented himself with a dramatic, if mysterious, new venture …

♦♦♦

IN MAY 2009 the Western Mail revealed that David Pickering had launched a new career — as a property developer.

Earlier that year Carmarthenshire County Council had bought the redundant former Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech, near Llanelli for £750,000.

The council immediately sold the 37 acre estate to an unnamed buyer for £845,000.

It wasn’t until the Western Mail article that the identity of the purchaser was revealed.

The paper reported that David Pickering “has come forward to reveal that he and partner Robert Lovering” are behind a business called R & A Properties.

(Lovering owns a telecoms company called European Telecom Solutions, based at Briton Ferry.)

Anyone reading the Western Mail article could be forgiven for believing that R & A Properties owned the site.

R & A Properties is not registered with Companies House.

Pickering told Western Mail chief reporter Martin Shipton:

“I know some people will find it strange that R & A is not a limited company but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers.”

STRADEY PARK  The former Royal Navy depot at Llangennech, Llanelli — a newspaper article in 2009 gave the impression that Pickering was one of the owners of the site. But Rebecca Television has discovered his name does not appear on the Land Registry deeds. Photo: Rebecca Television

STRADEY PARK
The former Royal Navy depot at Llangennech, Llanelli now renamed the Stradey Park Business Centre. A newspaper article in 2009 gave the impression that Pickering was one of the owners of the site. But Rebecca Television has discovered his name does not appear on the Land Registry deeds.
Photo: Rebecca Television

But R & A Properties are not the owners of the site.

Land Registry records show that it is Robert Lovering who owns the entire 37 acres.

David Pickering’s stake is zero.

Carmarthenshire County Council told Rebecca Television that the site was sold to Lovering in two parcels — one for £281,452, the other for £562,905.

Originally, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was planning to put the site up for sale once a valid planning issues were sorted.

Rebecca Television understands that another developer had contacted agents acting for the MoD and was talking about an offer of more than £2 million for the site.

Our investigation into this deal continues.

♦♦♦

IT’S NOT just in his family’s engineering firms that David Pickering has had financial problems.

He’s got others closer to home.

Stradey Safety Ltd isn’t the only company he owned and controlled that’s been in trouble.

He and his wife, television presenter Justine, were directors of Positive Publicity Ltd, which was dissolved in August 2006.

The last accounts for the company, in May 2003, show that it was worthless — with accumulated losses of more than £40,000.

The previous year the company was taken to Swansea County Court and ordered to pay a £1,700 bill.

Pickering also has a long history of county court judgments against him personally.

As we have already reported, he had two in the period 2004-2006.

At Northampton County Court he had been ordered to pay a debt of £1,992 in September 2004. 

In March 2006 Southampton County Court ordered him to repay credit card debts of £17,699 — to Lloyds Bank.

The Lloyds debt was paid a few months later.

In May 2011 another judgment was registered — for a debt of just £664 — at Staines county court.

This was repaid four months later.

By then he had another judgment against him — a debt of £703 — at Milton Keynes county court.

This debt has also been satisfied.

But a substantial debt remains unpaid.

In July 2009 Lloyds TSB obtained judgment against him for an unpaid bill of £10,232.

The bank has taken him to court — and secured the debt against his Cardiff home.

♦♦♦

PICKERING LIVES in a neo-Georgian house in the exclusive Queen Anne Square development on the edge of Cathays Park in central Cardiff. 

He bought the property in February 2003 for £325,000 — selling his former home in the Gower, Llanmadoc House in Llanmadoc, for £270,000 later the same year.

The Queen Anne Square property is leasehold only.

QUEEN ANNE SQUARE The exclusive Queen Anne Square development in the centre of Cardiff where David Pickering, his wife Justine and their four girls live.  In June 2007 the Western Mail reported that the property — "the ultimate in rugby memorabilia" — was up for sale. The paper reported that "the house has six bedrooms and two bathrooms — room for all the children, the family's Australian au pair and visitors". The asking price was £875,000 but the detached house was never sold.  Picture: Rebecca Television

QUEEN ANNE SQUARE
The exclusive Queen Anne Square development in the centre of Cardiff where David Pickering, his wife Justine and their four daughters live. In June 2007 the Western Mail reported that the property — “the ultimate in rugby memorabilia” — was up for sale. The paper reported that “the house has six bedrooms and two bathrooms — room for all the children, the family’s Australian au pair and visitors”. The asking price was £875,000 but the detached property was never sold.
Photo: Rebecca Television

Pickering has a 76 year lease in 1960 granted by Western Ground Rents.

This means that in just 23 years Western Ground Rents will have the right to take possession of the house — for nothing.

Experts have told Rebecca Television that it will cost a small fortune to purchase the freehold.

Pickering has a mortgage on the property with the Swansea Building Society.

The amount isn’t specified

And now there’s another burden attached to the building — the £10,232 debt to Lloyds TSB.

After obtaining its judgment against Pickering in July 2009, Lloyds TSB went to Norwich county court and obtained an “interim charging order” on the property.

♦♦♦

DAVID PICKERING is facing a challenge as chairman from former WRU chief executive David Moffett.

Moffett has criticised Pickering and chief executive Roger Lewis over their management of the WRU.

DAVID MOFFETT The former WRU chief executive believes he has the backing of enough clubs to call an EGM. He plans to oust David Pickering as chairman.   Photo: PA

DAVID MOFFETT
The former WRU chief executive believes he has the backing of enough clubs to call an EGM. He plans to oust David Pickering as chairman.
Photo: PA

We emailed to David Pickering’s legal advisers last week.

His lawyer — WRU secretary Gareth Williams — asked for a draft of this article.

We told him this was not Rebecca Television policy.

Williams said:

“Mr Pickering is a high net worth individual whose lifestyle is entirely appropriate to the income he receives.”

He added: “… there is no public interest in the publication of details of my client’s private financial affairs”.

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COMING UP

IT’S ONE of the greatest gravy trains in Welsh history. Glas Cymru — the not-for-profit company which owns Welsh Water — claims its sole concern is the welfare of its customers. But it also takes good care of its directors — paying them mouth-watering sums of money …

♦♦♦

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MIRROR CONFIRMS GORDON ANGLESEA ARREST

January 24, 2014

rebecca_logo_04WEDNESDAY’S DAILY MIRROR carried an article confirming the arrest of former North Wales Police superintendent Gordon Anglesea.

A reporter from the paper spoke to the retired police officer outside his home on Monday (Jan 20).

He said “I have no comment to make”.

The Daily Mirror story was marked “Exclusive” but was in fact largely based on the Rebecca Television (RTV) article published last week.

The Daily Post in North Wales, which belongs to the same group, made the story its lead on Wednesday (Jan 22).

The RTV story was not acknowledged by either title.

The Daily Mirror later accepted that much of the article was lifted from the Rebecca Television piece — and has agreed to make a donation to the website.

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Keep up to date with developments on Rebecca Television investigations by clicking on the “follow blog by email” button on the right hand side of the home page.

Your email address will only be used to alert you to newly published articles…

MIRROR "EXCLUSIVE" The Mirror article published on Wednesday. The paper later accepted that much of the article was lifted from the Rebecca Television piece — and has agreed to make a donation to the website.

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GORDON ANGLESEA ARRESTED

January 16, 2014

rebecca_logo_04

RETIRED NORTH Wales Police superintendent Gordon Anglesea has been arrested on suspicion of historic physical and sexual assaults against children.

Anglesea was detained at his Colwyn Bay home in December by officers of the National Crime Agency.

He was the 18th person to be arrested as part of Operation Pallial, based at North Wales Police headquarters.

 Operation Pallial was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2012.

 His decision followed the BBC Newsnight programme which falsely implied that Tory peer Lord McAlpine had abused children in North Wales care homes.

GORDON ANGLESEA The retired police superintendent arrested on suspicion of historic sexual and physical abuse of children in North Wales. Picture: © Daily Mirror

GORDON ANGLESEA
The retired police superintendent arrested on suspicion of historic sexual and physical abuse of children in North Wales.
Picture: © Daily Mirror

ON 12 DECEMBER officers from the National Crime Agency knocked on the door of a house in a quiet suburban street in Old Colwyn on the North Wales coast.

Inside the property they arrested a 76-year-old man and later took him to a police station in Cheshire.

The detectives were part of the Agency’s Operation Pallial team.

They questioned the arrested man about allegations of child abuse dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Seven men have alleged that they were sexually or physically abused by the retired police officer in the period 1975 to 1983 when they were between 8 and 16 years of age.

The following day the National Crime Agency, which is in charge of Operation Pallial, said the pensioner had been released on police bail until mid-April.

The Agency would not reveal his identity.

Rebecca Television understands it is Gordon Anglesea.

Between 1975 to 1983 he was a North Wales Police Inspector based in Wrexham.

He served as a policeman for more than 34 years and reached the rank of Superintendent by the time he retired in 1991.

Anglesea is a Rotarian and a Freemason.

Shortly after his arrest last December, he informed his local Rhos on Sea Rotary Club that he had been detained.

Six days after the arrest, on December 20, Rebecca Television rang John Roberts, secretary of the Rhos club.

We told him we were planning to name Anglesea.

Roberts replied that Anglesea had not resigned.

Roberts said the retired police officer had applied for leave of absence and that the request would be considered at the club’s January meeting.

At that meeting, which took place on January 7, Anglesea was given leave of absence until April.

He is a long-standing Rotarian, one of 51,000 members in Britain and Ireland.

He has been President of the Rhos on Sea club on three occasions — 1989-90, 1990-91 and 2007-8.

In 2010 he was the club official in charge of “Youth Service”.

A spokeswoman for Rotary International told Rebecca Television that “while there was a legal process under way, the organisation could not comment.”

nwpolicehq_001

NORTH WALES POLICE
Operation Pallial operated out of the North Wales Police headquarters in Colwyn Bay until it moved to undisclosed National Crime Agency premises.
Picture: Rebecca Television

Anglesea is also a Freemason of more than 30 years standing.

There are 250,000 masons in England and Wales — outnumbering Rotarians 5 to 1.

In 1976 Anglesea joined a masonic lodge in Colwyn Bay.

In 1982 he became a member of Wrexham’s Berwyn lodge.

He left in 1984 to join a new Wrexham lodge called Pegasus becoming its Master in 1990.

The secretary of the North Wales Province of Freemasonry, Peter Sorahan, said:

“In view of the fact that Operation Pallial is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate for me to comment.”

“However”, he added, “I can assure you that if requested by the Police to do so, the Province of North Wales will provide full assistance with their inquiries.”

Masonic HQ, the United Grand Lodge of England based in London, also confirmed it would assist the police if asked.

On January 8 Rebecca Television wrote to Gordon Anglesea informing him that the website intended to reveal that he was the man arrested on December 12.

We asked for a comment.

Royal Mail confirmed delivery of the letter.

There was no reply.

Operation Pallial can be contacted on 0800 118 1199 or by email at operationpallial@nca.x.gsi.gov.uk.


© 
Rebecca Television 2014

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SILENT TO THE GRAVE

December 16, 2013

rebecca_logo_04JUST AFTER the report of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal was published in 2000, chairman Sir Ronald Waterhouse was told it was seriously flawed.

The retired High Court judge was informed by television journalist Paddy French of allegations that a key witness had been prevented from giving evidence before the Tribunal.

Sir Ronald insisted that the meeting with the journalist — and the correspondence that followed — remain a secret.

It was only with his death in May 2011 that the story of an extraordinary encounter can finally be told.

(This article was originally published in December 2012.)

SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE The retired High Court judge chaired the £14 million North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal. In 2000 he was told of serious allegations that the Tribunal had failed to do its job properly. Whatever he felt about those allegations, he took them to his grave ...

SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE
The retired High Court judge chaired the £14 million North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal. In 2000 he was told of serious allegations that the Tribunal had failed to do its job properly. Whatever he felt about those allegations, he took to his grave …

IN OCTOBER 2000 Sir Ronald Waterhouse agreed to meet Paddy French, then a journalist with the Wales This Week current affairs programme at HTV in Cardiff.

French had asked for an off-the-record briefing from the retired judge but did not specify the issues he wanted to talk about.

The meeting took place at Sir Ronald’s home in the village of Walford near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.

Sir Ronald agreed to the discussion, as he put it later, because he wanted “to ease your labours as far as possible in a friendly fashion by providing answers to any queries that you had that could be dealt with quickly.”

But French had not come for a friendly chat — instead over the course of the three-hour meeting he delivered a detailed critique of the work of the Tribunal.

The following year French sent Sir Ronald a long letter summarising the conversation.

Sir Ronald replied the next day.

This article is based on this correspondence.

"Dear Mr French, Thank you for your letter and for sending me the video, which I have watched with great interest ..."  The video was a copy of the 1997 Wales This Week programme that was censored by Tribunal staff. Illustration: Rebecca Television

“Dear Mr French, Thank you for your letter and for sending me the video, which I have watched with great interest …”
The video was a copy of the 1997 Wales This Week programme which was censored by Tribunal staff.
Illustration: Rebecca Television

French had attended the launch of the Tribunal’s report — “Lost in Care” — in February 2000 to report on the event for a Wales This Week special that was broadcast the same evening.

When he had time to read the 937 pages of the report in the days that followed, the television journalist realised a key witness had not been heard.

Three years earlier, when he was an independent television producer, French had been asked by Wales This Week to carry out a financial investigation into the affairs of the privately-owned Bryn Alyn Community in Wrexham.

Its owner John Allen had been gaoled in 1995 for six years for indecently assaulting six boys in his care.

In the course of the investigation, the team tracked down Des Frost, John Allen’s accountant and joint number two.

The story of Des Frost will be familiar to readers — it has already been told in greater detail in the article Silent Witness.

As well as information about the Community’s shambolic financial affairs, Frost also dropped a bombshell.

He told reporters he had reported allegations that John Allen had abused six boys at the home in 1980 — more than ten years before Allen was arrested.

“What he was saying was significant,” says French.

“If it was true and he had reported his suspicions, then Allen could have been brought to justice a full decade before he was gaoled.”

“And a high-profile trial in the early 1980s might have triggered a wider police inquiry.”

Frost had not been interviewed by the Tribunal, which had already begun hearing witnesses in public.

When the Tribunal learnt Wales This Week had interviewed Frost, lawyers threatened programme-makers with contempt proceedings if they broadcast any allegations.

The section of Des Frost’s interview dealing with these allegations was removed from the programme when it was broadcast in 1997.

But when Lost in Care was published in 2000, there was no mention of Des Frost and his allegations.

“I found the disappearance of Frost from the Tribunal  hard to believe,” says French.

Wales This Week had been prevented from telling viewers about the 1980 allegations because it would interfere with the Tribunal’s hearings.”

“We thought that the Tribunal warned us off telling viewers about the allegations because they intended to hear Frost’s evidence.”

“Yet Frost was never called.”

“One of the key conclusions of “Lost in Care” was that the North Wales Police could not be criticised for the way it had handled allegations of abuse.”

“But if Frost was telling the truth and he did report his suspicions, then that conclusion has to be suspect.”

“After the publication of Lost in Care in 2000, I suggested to the Wales This Week team that we should make a programme about Frost but there was little enthusiasm.”

“It was never openly stated, but the Waterhouse report had been a vindication of many of the programmes Wales This Week had made and there was little appetite in making a programme that undermined it.”

DES FROST The former children's home executive claimed he reported allegations of abuse against his boss more than a decade before detectives began to investigate.

DES FROST
The former children’s home executive claimed he reported allegations of abuse against his boss more than a decade before detectives began to investigate.

French began to investigate on his own account.

He spent many hours trawling through the transcripts of the Tribunal at the Cardiff offices of the Wales Office.

By the time he asked Sir Ronald for a meeting, his analysis of shortcomings had widened well beyond Frost and formed the basis of the series of articles that later became The Case of the Flawed Tribunal.

But Frost remained one of the major subjects of the meeting which took place between Sir Ronald and French in October 2000.

After French had laid out his account of Frost, Sir Ronald went out to make a pot of tea.

As the kettle was boiling, he came back and said he wanted to go on the record.

This is the account that French included in the five-page letter he later sent to Sir Ronald on 8 August 2001:

“Obviously our conversation was off the record — although you did go on the record to comment on the allegations made by Des Frost, accountant to the Bryn Alyn Community, that he had gone to the police in 1980.”

“Your position was that the inquiry had the local policeman’s statement: there was no indication Frost knew any more and that there was nothing he could add to the knowledge already gathered by the Tribunal team”.

Sir Ronald received this letter the next morning and his reply was posted that same day.

He was emphatic:

“I am afraid I must insist that the whole of this letter and our previous discussion shall remain confidential.”

"I am afraid

“I am afraid I must insist that the whole of this letter and our previous discussion shall remain confidential.”   Illustration: Rebecca Television

In his reply, Sir Ronald made no comment about going on the record.

“What is significant,” says French, “is that he didn’t deny making the remarks”.

“And it’s not surprising he didn’t want them published,” adds French.

“It was an inadequate response: Wales This Week had broadcast the fact that Des Frost had gone to the police and I am certain that Tribunal staff were well aware of it.”

♦♦♦

THE OTHER major topics of the conversation in October 2000 were Gordon Anglesea and freemasonry.

The background to the discussion is detailed in the articles The Trials of Gordon Anglesea and A Mason-Free Zone?.

Gordon Anglesea is the retired North Wales Police superintendent who was falsely accused of abusing children at the Bryn Estyn home near Wrexham by two newspapers, the magazine Private Eye and HTV in the early 1990s.

In 1994 he won a major libel action with the quartet — he agreed £375,000 in damages and the legal costs took the bill to over £3 million.

Gordon Anglesea had been questioned about suspected child abuse in the major police investigation which took place between 1991 and 1993.

When the Tribunal began its hearings in 1997, one of the most dramatic moments came when the barrister for the North Wales Police revealed that the file sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) included a recommendation that the former police officer should be prosecuted.

The CPS decided against prosecution.

GORDON ANGLESEA The retired police superintendent won a major libel case.

GORDON ANGLESEA
The retired police superintendent won a major libel case in the 1990s against media organisations who wrongly accused him of abusing young boys at the Bryn Estyn children’s home near Wrexham.
Photo: Rebecca Television

In his letter, Sir Ronald comments on this:

“It is correct that in relation to most individuals investigated the police did not make a recommendation to the CPS either way: the file of evidence was submitted without a recommendation in those cases.”

The defence in the libel action was unaware that North Wales Police had recommended prosecution.

Sir Ronald continues:

“I am not surprised that the police recommendation in respect of Anglesea did not emerge at the civil trial [i.e. the libel proceedings] and it seems to have been assumed that they had not recommended a prosecution.”

He then adds:

“If a sub-poena had been issued in respect of the relevant documents, Crown privilege would have been claimed (i.e. immunity from production) and it is highly doubtful whether the trial judge would have ordered that they should be produced because the issue before the jury was whether the defendants had proved that Anglesea was guilty of child abuse: to that issue the police recommendation was irrelevant in law and might well have prejudiced the jury against him.”

Gordon Anglesea is a freemason and there was a long discussion between French and Sir Ronald about the brotherhood, in particular the relationship between the police officer and the Grand Master of the North Wales Province, Lord Kenyon.

Sir Ronald’s attitude was summed up in his comment:

“I am rather sad now that you are pursuing tedious freemasons and the unhappy deceased Lord Kenyon.”

Sir Ronald said that he himself asked most of the questions about freemasonry — the barristers did not seem to be interested.

(Rebecca Television wrote to most of the leading barristers to ask if they were, or ever had been, freemasons.

None answered.)

One of the things that surprised French was that Sir Ronald was unaware that Lord Kenyon had his own masonic lodge, called Kenyon, based at his home in Gredington near Whitchurch.

Sir Ronald was also blissfully unaware that there was a police lodge in North Wales — Custodes Pacis, based in Llandudno.

French also told him the story of journalist Mark Brittain’s dealings in 1995 with Michael Argent, then chief constable of North Wales Police, over this lodge.

When Brittain met Argent, Argent denied the existence of a police lodge.

So Brittain sent him a photocopy of the lodge’s entry in the masonic yearbook.

Argent replies that, yes, Custodes Pacis does exist — but that the members are all long-retired officers.

Not so, counters Brittain, insisting there are serving members as well.

Argent now comes clean: there are four serving officers in the lodge.

In 1997 Brittain wrote to the clerk of the police authority, Leon Gibson, who was also chief executive of Anglesey County Council.

Gibson, who would not tell Rebecca Television if he is a freemason, replied to Brttain saying that the chief constable had been told by “colleagues” that the lodge did not exist.

In his letter to Sir Ronald, French said:

“You speculated that Argent’s denial may have been based on a desire to keep the existence of the lodge a secret from the Tribunal.’

French asks:

“Will you allow me to say so?”

On this, Sir Ronald was silent.

In his letter French also raises an anecdote that features in Lost In Care.

It was alleged that Kenyon had said he was determined that Gordon Anglesea would be promoted to Superintendent before his retirement.

LORD KENYON  Lloyd Tyrell-Kenyon, the fifth Baron Kenyon, was Grand Master of the Masonic Province of North Wales in the 1980s. The North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal was unaware that a masonic lodge met at his home or that he officiated over the opening of a police lodge in 1984.

LORD KENYON
Lloyd Tyrell-Kenyon, the fifth Baron Kenyon, was Grand Master of the Masonic Province of North Wales in the 1980s. The North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal was unaware that a masonic lodge met at his home or that he officiated over the opening of a police lodge in 1984.

This, the allegation went, was in return for Gordon Anglesea’s alleged light treatment of Kenyon’s son when he was in trouble with the police.

Police could find no evidence to support the allegation of preferential treatment of Kenyon’s son.

The Tribunal concluded that the story was a “malicious rumour.”

But there is evidence that Lord Kenyon did attend a police function and expressed surprise that Gordon Anglesea had not been promoted.

The Tribunal should have known about it because its own witness interviewing team had been to see the source of it — retired Police Federation official Harry Templeton.

But Templeton’s evidence was never heard by the Tribunal.

Once again, Sir Ronald was silent on this point when he replied, insisting that  he was “ … fully satisfied on the evidence available to me that neither freemasonry nor Lord Kenyon had any influence on the fate of Anglesea or anyone else in relation to child abuse.”

During the meeting with French, there was also a discussion about the role of Gerard Elias, QC as lead counsel for the Inquiry.

Elias is a member of one of the most powerful lodges in South Wales, Dinas Llandaf.

Sir Ronald did not accept that Elias was a prominent freemason:

“He is, of course, prominent in other respects but not as a freemason. He gave the Tribunal full details of his desultory membership and of his non-relationship with Gwilym Jones.”

Tory MP Gwilym Jones, also a member of Dinas Llandaf, was a Welsh Office minister when the Tribunal was established in 1996.

When Rebecca Television published The Case of the Flawed Tribunal in 2011 and 2012, the only comment carried from Sir Ronald was the one he insisted on in a later letter he wrote in April 2002:

“As far as I am concerned, I am content that you should say that you had put to me the substance of your research but that I had stated that the Tribunal had said all that it could properly say on the evidence before it in its report and that it would be both unwise and inappropriate for me to comment further.”

The Welsh Assembly Member met Sir Ronald Waterhouse at a function in 2006.

MARK ISHERWOOD
Welsh Assembly member Mark Isherwood met Sir Ronald Waterhouse at a function at the Welsh Senedd building in 2006: “He told me quite clearly that he now accepted that documentation had been withheld from the Tribunal which he chaired.” Photo: Mark Isherwood

French accepted the retired judge’s conditions.

“I agreed because I suspected he was the only person who could really help with this inquiry,” said French.

“I hoped that he would have made an entry in his diary or have left a detailed note for me after he died.”

“Sadly, when I contacted his widow after a decent interval had elapsed, she told me there was no such entry or note.”

Whatever he knew and whatever he felt, Sir Ronald Waterhouse took to the grave.

ragout_01

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2012 & 2013

DONATIONS  If you would like to support the work of Rebecca Television, you can do so by clicking on the DONATE button.

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CORRECTIONS  Please let us know if there are any mistakes in this article — they’ll be corrected as soon as possible.

RIGHT OF REPLY  If you have been mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let us have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory we’ll add it to the article.

 


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