THE END OF THE MR & MRS WILLIAMS SHOW

June 27, 2018

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BROADCASTING WATCHDOG Ofcom has appointed a new Director of its Wales office.

Eleanor Marks, a senior career servant in the Welsh government, takes up the post in September.

A Welsh-speaker, Marks was previously the government’s Director of Communities and Tackling Poverty and also worked for HM Revenue & Customs.

The appointment means Ofcom Wales will not become a family affair.

When Rhodri Williams stepped down in March as Director, there was speculation he would be replaced by his wife, Elinor.

As Regulatory Affairs Manager, she was the effective number 2 — and had stepped into Rhodri Williams shoes when he was seconded to Ofcom London in 2012.

The couple were married in 2017 but for an unknown number of years before that had been conducting a secret affair.

Rhodri Williams

MR WILLIAMS …
MYSTERY SURROUNDS the sudden departure of Rhodri Williams as Ofcom’s £120,000-a-year Wales Director. The 62-year-old had been in the post for 14 years. Controversy has dogged his career in the media. He was gaoled in the 1970s for his part in the campaign for a Welsh language television channel. He was one of the founders of the independent production company Tinopolis but was dramatically dismissed in 2001. It was during this period that he earned his nickname “Billions”. A full account of his early career can be found in the articles A Man Of Conviction? and A Licence To Censor. In the latter piece Rebecca editor Paddy French makes a declaration of interest.
Photo: Ofcom

The appointment of a career civil servant marks an attempt by Ofcom to bring to a close a turbulent period in its Welsh operations.

♦♦♦

IT BEGAN in March 2017 when it was revealed that a valuable contract had been awarded to the lobbying firm Deryn without going out to contract.

Initially, Ofcom defended the contract.

But when Assembly AM Neil McEvoy intervened and demanded a formal investigation, Ofcom backtracked.

In October 2017 the watchdog admitted that its tendering procedures had been broken.

It added that several unnamed staff members would be given “further training”.

Ofcom would not say if Mr and Mrs Williams were the staff members involved.

Nor would Ofcom confirm or deny that Rhodri Williams’ decision to leave the organisation had anything to do with the scandal.

Then, in March this year, Rebecca published The Mistress Of The Man From Ofcom revealing for the first time that Rhodri Williams and his wife had been involved in a long-standing relationship.

The affair raised the issue of patronage at Ofcom Wales.

It is not known when their liaison actually began but Rebecca discovered they first met back in the 1990s.

Her career path has partly followed his.

She joined the Welsh Language Board in 2003 when he was chairman.

She joined Ofcom in 2007 as Communications Manager when he was Director.

Ofcom declined to say if Rhodri Williams had been involved in her initial appointment or her later promotion to Regulatory Affairs Manager in 2011.

On May 9 Rebecca published another article — Update: The Mistress Of The Man From Ofcom — on the search for a new Director.

ElinorWilliams

… MRS WILLIAMS
OFCOM’S DECISION to appoint a civil servant marks the end of the Mr and Mrs Williams show. In normal circumstances, Elinor Williams would have been a favoured candidate: a reorganisation in 2011 saw her become the No 2 at Ofcom Wales and the following year she stepped in as Director while Rhodri Williams worked in London. The departure of her husband and the scandal surrounding the Deryn contract appear to have persuaded Ofcom to choose an outside candidate.
Photo: Ofcom

We asked why Ofcom’s Welsh page still showed Rhodri Williams as Director when the watchdog had said he would leave at the end of March.

Ofcom then amended the page.

Northern Ireland Director Jonathan Rose was now shown to be also acting as temporary head of the Welsh operation.

But the entry for Elinor Williams had been changed: her photo had disappeared and her title had been altered.

Instead of Regulatory Affairs Manager, she was now described as Principal, Regulatory Affairs.

Ofcom declined to explain why her title had changed — or if it involved a pay rise.

The watchdog also altered the entry for a new member of staff, Lloyd Watkins.

Rebecca had asked if  Rhodri Williams had been involved in his  appointment to the apparently new position of Regulatory Affairs Advisor in January.

Ofcom declined to answer.

Watkins’ web page entry originally made it clear he had  worked for various Labour organisations and Assembly Members.

The new entry saw all his Labour Party connections removed.

♦♦♦

IT IS NOT known if Elinor Williams applied for the job of Director.

The decision to appoint someone else has headed off another potential embarrassment for Ofcom.

The Welsh Assembly AM Neil McEvoy has been keeping a close eye on the appointment process.

He told Rebecca:

“I’m pleased that Ofcom Wales is now moving forward after a very embarrassing situation.”

“Ofcom is a competition regulator, so to be exposed awarding contracts without any competition was bringing the organisation into disrepute.”

“It looked worse still when the contract was awarded to a controversial lobbying firm who had two of its directors sitting on Ofcom’s Advisory Board for Wales.”

“Unfortunately, there’s a real jobs for the boys and girls culture in Cardiff Bay that means too often the best people don’t get the best jobs.”

“We need competition regulators like Ofcom to work to end that practice, not take part in it.”

“I hope with a new Director in place they can have a fresh start and fight for equal opportunity in Wales, where every person and company has a fair go.”

“I’ll be watching very closely.”

♦♦♦ 

Published: 27 June 2018

© Rebecca

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COMING
THE DEATH OF CARL SARGEANT
LAST NOVEMBER Labour Cabinet minister Carl Sargeant hanged himself. His suicide followed allegations that he had sexually harassed women. Rebecca investigates these allegations and charts the attempts by Carwyn Jones and the Welsh Labour establishment to cover up their role in the affair.

♦♦♦

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UPDATE: THE MISTRESS OF THE MAN FROM OFCOM

May 9, 2018

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RHODRI WILLIAMS left his post as Director of the Wales Office of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom on March 31.

No reason has been given for his decision to give up the job — which pays more than £120,000 a year — at the age of 62.

Ofcom remains tight-lipped about the issue.

The watchdog would not say if the move was connected to the scandal surrounding a controversial contract.

The contract was awarded to the political lobbying firm Deryn — which includes leading figures from both Labour and Plaid Cymru — without going out to tender.

Initially, Ofcom defended it.

But it later admitted the Cardiff Office had broken its own procurement rules  — and announced that several “colleagues” would be given “further training”.

The regulator declined to say if Rhodri Williams was one of these.

Ofcom also declined to say if Elinor Wiliiams, the number 2 at the Cardiff Bay office, was another.

Ofcom also declines to comment on speculation that Elinor Williiams — the wife of Rhodri Williams — will replace him as Director.

This article updates the article published on March 6 — The Mistress Of The Man From Ofcom.

♦♦♦

RHODRI WILLIAMS quietly cleared his office at Ofcom Wales at the end of March.

There was no press release announcing his departure — and the regulator was silent about who would hold the post while a successor was sought.

The obvious candidate is the Wales Office No 2, Elinor Williams, the Regulatory Affairs Manager.

She married Rhodri Williams last year — before that she’d been his mistress for many years.

(In 2012, when Rhodri Williams moved to London to become temporary Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs, Elinor Williams stepped in as acting Director Wales.

Rhodri Williams

RHODRI WILLIAMS
RHODRI WILLIAMS leaves Ofcom in unexplained circumstances. The watchdog would not give any reason for his departure and simply said: “ … we wish him all the best for the future.” Williams has at least four pensions to fall back on but with extensive links to the Labour Party it’s unlikely his career in the public sector is over. He has a chequered past: gaoled in the 1970s for his part in the campaign to create a Welsh TV channel, he later tried to become a media tycoon in the 1990s. It was in this period he acquired the nickname “billions”. He was forced to leave the independent production company Tinopolis in 2001 after he was accused of diverting a valuable contract to a rival business. His career is explored in the article A Man Of Conviction? and Rebecca editor Paddy French makes a declaration of interest in A Licence To Censor.
Photo: Ofcom

On that occasion, here was no formal appointment process.

The post was “back-filled”, as Ofcom put it, with Elinor Williams taking control of the Cardiff office.) 

On April 3 the Ofcom Wales website was still showing Rhodri Williams as Director and Elinor Williams as his No 2.

Rebecca asked Ofcom what was happening.

The next day the watchdog told us the page had been amended.

This now stated that Ofcom’s Northern Ireland Director Jonathan Rose was the acting Wales Director.

But the entry for Elinor Williams had been altered.

Her picture had vanished — and her job title had changed.

Previously, she was Regulatory Affairs Manager.

This is in line with the practice in both the Scotland and Northern Ireland offices.

On April 4 the website listed her title as Principal, Regulatory Affairs.

When we queried this, Ofcom would only say that Elinor Williams had been appointed to “Principal” level back in 2013.

A spokesman added:

“Rhodri Williams was not a member of the promotion panel nor did he provide a reference.”

We asked Ofcom if the change in her title was accompanied by an increase in salary.

The regulator told us:

“We don’t disclose such personal information.”

♦♦♦

OFCOM HAS declined to answer further questions about the relationship between Rhodri Williams and Elinor Williams — and about the controversial Deryn contract. 

In March Rebecca submitted a Freedom of Information request on these issues.

We asked if Rhodri Williams was involved when Elinor Williams first joined Ofcom as Communications Manager in November 2007.

Ofcom said:

“We apply retention and deletion procedures to the information Ofcom holds in order to comply with relevant data protection laws and therefore, we no longer hold any information related to this appointment.”

Ofcom also declined to give details of Rhodri Williams’ severance package:

ElinorWilliams

HEIR APPARENT?
ELINOR WILLIAMS, the current No 2 at Ofcom Wales, is the best placed candidate to succeed her husband Rhodri Williams. After joining the watchdog as communications manager in 2007, she was the main beneficiary of a major reorganisation in 2011. Hywel Wiliam, the head of broadcasting and telecommunications, left the regulator after his post was axed. Elinor Williams was promoted to the new post of Regulatory Affairs Manager. In 2012 she replaced Rhodri Williams as acting Director when he was seconded to Ofcom HQ in London. In 2013 her post was regraded to principal level — attracting a salary in the range £60-£120,000.
Photo: Ofcom

“We are unable to provide any information concerning the arrangements under which Rhodri Williams left Ofcom as its disclosure would contravene data protection principles …”

Ofcom also declined to answer questions about the controversial Deryn contract.

This was awarded in February 2016 to provide the Cardiff office with “monitoring of proceedings, debates and Government announcements in Wales and UK-wide.”

It did not go out to competitive tender.

Two board members of Deryn — former Plaid Cymru Director of Strategy Nerys Evans and former Labour Party spin doctor Huw Roberts — were also serving on Ofcom’s advisory committee for Wales.

The contract did not become public until February 2017 when Western Mail journalist Martin Shipton and Plaid Cymru politician Neil McEvoy started to ask questions.

Initially, Ofcom defended the contract because Deryn were “able to provide a bespoke service tailored to suit the specific needs of Ofcom in Wales …”

But Ofcom axed the contract and carried out an internal review.

In October 2017 the review found that “the way the contract was awarded was not consistent with Ofcom’s required processes and a competitive procurement should have been undertaken.”

It added that several members of staff — unnamed — were to receive “further training”.

Rebecca asked if Ofcom HQ in London was consulted about the contract.

Ofcom didn’t answer the question.

The watchdog also declined to reveal the value of the contract.

“Releasing the fees paid for this work would, or would be likely to, prejudice Deryn’s commercial interests and would, or would be likely prejudice, the commercial interests of Ofcom.”

“It would prejudice Ofcom’s bargaining position in any future contract negotiations for similar monitoring services.”

Ofcom did add:

“We would like to highlight that the value of the contract is not significant.“

Rebecca has appealed the decision.

We noted that the Deryn contract was:

” — a one-off negotiation which took place without any competitive tender

— as such, any prices cannot impact — practically or theoretically — either Deryn’s or Ofcom’s commercial interests

— all other later contracts would be subject to competitive tender and the price paid for the Deryn contract would be seen to be clearly irrelevant to all bidders.

The reason for Ofcom’s decision [not to release the value of the contract] …  is to spare both Deryn and itself the embarrassment of having been caught out in a clandestine ‘sweetheart deal’.”   

The fact that two Deryn board members — Huw Roberts and Nerys Evans — were, at the same time, … members of the Advisory Committee for Wales only deepens suspicion.”

Ofcom did reveal that Huw Roberts and Nerys Evans were paid £3,000 a year while they were members of the Advisory Committee.

♦♦♦

IN JANUARY Ofcom Wales welcomed a new member of staff. 

Lloyd Watkins joined the organisation as its Regulatory Affairs Advisor in January 2018.

Ofcom included a biography on its Wales page.

“Before joining Ofcom, Lloyd worked in a variety of roles; most recently as a campaign officer for Bridgend Labour Party at the Pencoed Labour Constituency Office and for various Assembly Members …”

Rebecca asked Ofcom if this post had been advertised, the relevant salary and Lloyd Watkins’ regulatory experience.

Ofcom declined to answer these questions.

We also asked if Rhodri Williams — a Labour supporter — had been involved in the process.

We added that Lloyd Watkins’ CV:

“ … does make it clear that he has worked extensively for the Labour Party. 

“This appointment is likely to provoke comments to the effect that this is a political appointment to favour the Labour Party.”

“How does Ofcom respond to that charge?”

An Ofcom spokesman said:

“I am concerned that you will suggest, wrongly, that we have made a political appointment.”

cathy-owens-deryn

CATHY OWENS
FORMER LABOUR spin doctor Cathy Owens is the major shareholder in the political lobbying firm Deryn Consulting. She formed the company in 2011 after a period working as Rhodri Morgan’s media adviser. Civil servants complained about her abrasive style and she stepped down shortly after she accidentally left a message on Western Mail reporter Martin Shipton’s mobile phone describing journalists as “bastards”.

He added that Rebecca was:

“… making unsubstantiated claims regarding the appointment of Lloyd Watkins, who is a junior colleague on a fixed-term 12 month contract covering a maternity leave.”

“If you do plan to make such accusations, I will need a right of reply before [Ofcom’s emphasis] you publish given the seriousness of such an allegation.”

Ofcom declined to answer any of our questions about the appointment process.

We asked again but all the spokesman would say was:

“Ofcom is scrupulously impartial, and our track record shows that.”

“We make all our decisions without fear or favour, and free from any political influence.”

“All Ofcom appointments are made on their merits and any suggestion to the contrary is completely inaccurate.”

On April 4, Lloyd Watkins’ Ofcom Wales biography was amended.

His previous employment with the Labour Party had been removed.

♦♦♦

LAST WEEK Rebecca continued to press Ofcom to reveal more information about Elinor Williams and the appointment of Lloyd Watkins.

We submitted a request that the regulator answer a further 13 questions.

The same day the watchdog’s director of communications Chris Wynn wrote to say:

“I regret to say that I have taken the view that this request … is unreasonable.”

“You are of course welcome to submit your questions via FOI [Freedom of Information] where we will happily respond in line with our normal procedures.

“I would also like to put on record that you do not make unsubstantiated allegations against Ofcom members of staff and that you approach your article fairly and accurately within the boundaries of what you know to be facts, and not supposition.”

“Until now, I have helped you as much as possible but this now goes beyond what I believe is acceptable.”

However, when Rebecca made it clear this article would include the appointment of Lloyd Watkins, Chris Wynn told us:

“The post was advertised externally.”

This was one of the questions he’d previously told us were “unreasonable.”

Meanwhile, Ofcom is not saying when — or even if — a new Director Wales will be announced …

♦♦♦ 

Published: 9 May 2018
© Rebecca 2018

♦♦♦ 

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THE MISTRESS OF THE MAN FROM OFCOM

March 6, 2018

rebecca_logo_04THE WALES Director of broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, Rhodri Williams, is to step down.

It follows a turbulent time for the Cardiff office of the main UK communications regulator.

Last October Ofcom in London admitted that a controversial contract — awarded by the Cardiff office to the Welsh lobbying firm Deryn Consulting — had broken its procurement rules.

The contract was awarded in February 2016 without going out to tender.

We asked Ofcom if the contract was a factor in Rodri Williams’ decision to step down.

It did not answer the question.

A spokesman told Rebecca yesterday:

“Rhodri decided to leave Ofcom after 14 years.”

“He will leave Ofcom this month and we wish him all the best for the future.”

The clear favourite to replace Rhodri Williams is his deputy, Regulatory Affairs Manager Elinor Williams.

She is also his wife — and, before that, his mistress.

Her marriage to civil servant Geraint Williams collapsed in 2013.

Rhodri Williams’ marriage broke up shortly afterwards.

Rhodri and Elinor were married last year.

Rebecca does not investigate personal affairs — unless the relationship raises issues of public patronage.

Rhodri Williams

RHODRI “BILLIONS” WILLIAMS
RHODRI WILLIAMS is a poacher turned gamekeeper. Gaoled in the 1970s for his part in the campaign to create a Welsh TV channel, he tried to become a media tycoon in the 1990s. This is where the nickname “billions” comes from. He was one of the founders of Tinopolis, the Llanelli-based independent production company, but was dramatically dismissed in 2001. He was accused of diverting a valuable contract to a rival. Rebecca has investigated his career in the article A Man Of Conviction? Rebecca editor Paddy French has declared an interest in the coverage of Rhodri Williams — see the article A Licence To Censor for more details.
Photo: Ofcom

The couple met in the 1990s and Elinor Williams went on to work for public bodies controlled by Rhodri Williams.

She joined the Welsh Language Board in 2003 when he was Chairman.

She joined Ofcom Wales in 2007 when he was Director.

She stood in as Director when Rhodri Williams was seconded to London.

Her experience — and her personal connections — may deter qualified candidates from applying for the Director post.

Ofcom told us:

“We can confirm that appropriate measures are in place to ensure that any potential conflicts of interest are avoided.”

(After this article was posted, Ofcom also asked us to add the following statement:

“We are conducting an open and transparent recruitment process to appoint a Director for Wales.”)

♦♦♦

IN FEBRUARY 2016 Ofcom Wales negotiated a contract with the high-powered lobbying firm Deryn Consulting.

Formed in 2011, the company is owned by Cathy Owens, a former advisor to the late Rhodri Morgan, and former Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Nerys Evans.

The contract was to provide the Cardiff office with “monitoring of proceedings, debates and Government announcement in Wales and UK-wide.”

The existence of the contract — which did not go out to tender — did not emerge until a year later.

Journalists began investigating and Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Neil McEvoy started to ask questions.

In February 2017 Western Mail chief reporter Martin Shipton published an article about the affair.

Team-Deryn-June-2016

POWER BROKERS
DERYN CONSULTING is a powerful lobbying business. Formed in 2011, it’s owned by Cathy Owens (pictured, far right), a former adviser to Rhodri Morgan, and ex-Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Nerys Evans (on the left). Owens has a reputation as an abrasive character: once describing journalists as “bastards”. Nerys Evans is a former Plaid Cymru Director of Strategy. Chairman Huw Roberts, the only man in the picture, worked for BBC Wales and ITN in London. He was also a spin doctor to former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies.
Photo: Deryn

The piece revealed that Nerys Evans and Deryn chairman Huw Roberts were also members of Ofcom’s advisory committee for Wales.

Ofcom defended the awarding of the contract without going out to tender.

Deryn were:

“able to provide a bespoke service tailored to suit the specific needs of Ofcom in Wales: so, for example, monitoring of National Assembly for Wales committees is provided immediately after committee sessions.”

Ofcom declined to reveal the value of the contract.

Assembly Member Neil McEvoy was not impressed.

He told the Western Mail:

“There are well-established rules for public procurement of goods and services.”

“But they’ve awarded a contract to Deryn, without any competition …”

“It’s impossible to know whether Deryn offered the public value for money since no other companies were able to bid for the contract, even though there is no shortage of such companies.”

“Overall, this is highly damaging to Ofcom’s reputation.”

“The person on the street is getting tired of the cosiness and the constant stitch-ups amongst the Welsh political elite.”

He asked Ofcom to investigate.

Ofcom moved quickly to scotch the scandal.

It immediately — but secretly — axed the contract and in October last year partially abandoned its defence of the process.

Ofcom’s Director of Corporate Services, Alison Crosland, wrote to Neil McEvoy to say she had reviewed how the contract was awarded.

“This concluded that the way the contract was awarded was not consistent with Ofcom’s required processes and a competitive procurement should have been undertaken.”

But she decided that patronage had played no part in the decision:

“The review concluded that the decision to procure the service was  based on its usefulness, and the fact that employees of the supplier hold positions on the Advisory Committee had no bearing on the decision.”

Neil smiling lrg

NEIL McEVOY
THE OUTSPOKEN Assembly Member was expelled from Plaid Cymru in January following a spate of complaints. One of these came from Deryn directors Cathy Owens and Nerys Evans who accused McEvoy of bullying and intimidation. Nerys Evans, a former senior Plaid Cymru politician, said McEvoy “has sought to undermine and harm my reputation, and that of my company, Deryn, by a campaign of bullying and smears.” McEvoy claims some of the complaints against him were orchestrated by Deryn because he’s critical of the company.

“As a result of these findings,” she added, “those colleagues [responsible for the contract] will receive further training to ensure that procurement policies and procedures are followed properly in future.”

Rebecca understands “those colleagues” included Rhodri Williams and Elinor Williams.

The Ofcom contract was important to Deryn.

Shortly after the Ofcom contract was awarded in February 2016, Cathy Owens claimed “it’s been a spectacular few months for Deryn …”

2016 also proved successful financially.

Deryn was able to declare a dividend.

Cathy Owens received £78,000 and Nerys Evans £47,000 on top of their undisclosed salaries.

We approached Deryn for a comment but there was no reply by the time this article went to press.

♦♦♦

IT’S NOT known when the affair between Rhodri Williams and Elinor Williams began.

It’s been common knowledge in Cardiff and London for many years.

They were known as “Mr and Mrs Williams” because her married name was also Williams.

He is 61, she’s 46.

They first met in the 1990s.

In 1994 he was editor of the S4C programme Heno when it covered a talent competition held by the Welsh-language magazine Golwg.

Golwg was looking for amateur models and one of the contestants was Elinor Williams.

In October 2003 — by now married to civil servant Geraint Williams — she was appointed Director of Marketing and Communications of the Welsh Language Board.

ElinorWilliams

REGULATORY AFFAIRS
ELINOR WILLIAMS is a highly qualified candidate for the post of Director, Ofcom Wales. She joined Ofcom first as Communications Manager and then as Regulatory Affairs Manager. She held the post of Director, Ofcom Wales in 2012 when future husband Rhodri Williams was in London as acting head of UK Government and Regulatory Affairs.
Photo: Ofcom

Rhodri Williams — then chairman of the Welsh Language Board — said:

“We are delighted that Elinor will be joining us at the board.”

Two months later, he was offered the post of Director, Ofcom Wales.

The salary was between £80,000 and £110,000.

(His then wife, Siân Helen, is a close friend of former Labour Assembly Member Delyth Evans.

Delyth Evans’ partner is Ed Richards, who had been a media policy editor advisor to Tony Blair

Richards was appointed deputy chief executive of Ofcom early in 2003 and later took the top job in 2005.

He was not involved in the appointment of Rhodri Williams.)

In 2007 Elinor Williams joined Ofcom as Communications Manager.

She was later promoted to Regulatory Affairs Manager.

Rebecca asked Ofcom if Rhodri Williams was involved in these appointments.

Ofcom told us:

“We do not discuss individual employee matters.”

In January 2012 Rhodri Williams moved to Ofcom’s London HQ to become acting UK Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs.

While he was away, Elinor Williams was promoted to acting Director of the Wales office.

There was no appointment process — Ofcom says the post was “back-filled”.

Applications for the post of Ofcom Director Wales, close on March 19.

♦♦♦

Note
You can read more on this subject in the article  — Update: The Mistress Of The Man From Ofcom — published on 9 May 9 2018.

Correction
This article was corrected on March 10. We stated that Elinor Williams was appointed Ofcom’s Regulatory Affairs Manager in 2007. In fact, that position was Communications Manager — she was later promoted to Regulatory Affairs Manager. Apologies for the error.

♦♦♦
Published: 6
 March 2018
© Rebecca
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COMING UP
THE SISTER OF THE WOMAN FROM AUNTIE
PATRONAGE AND NEPOTISM have long been features of broadcasting in Wales. The Rebecca investigation of BBC Wales — which already includes the articles The Son Of The Man From Uncle and In The Name Of The Father? — continues with a detailed analysis of the crisis that engulfed the Corporation between 2008 and 2011. The article examines the controversial relationship between former Director Menna Richards and her sister. The current regime — headed by Rhodri Talfan Davies, the son of former BBC boss Geraint Talfan Davies, and a family friend of Menna Richards — declines to answer questions on the affair …

♦♦♦

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NORTH WALES POLICE COVERED UP GORDON ANGLESEA’S LIES

December 12, 2017

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NORTH WALES POLICE deliberately with-held sensational evidence about Gordon Anglesea from the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal.

The force suppressed the fact that the retired police superintendent lied when he was questioned under caution about an alleged indecent assault.

That’s the revelation which emerges from the updated version of the Macur Review, headed by Lady Justice Macur, released on December 5.

The Review — launched in 2012 by then-Home Secretary Theresa May — examined the workings of the 1996-2000 North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse.

The case of Gordon Anglesea was central to the Tribunal’s hearings.

Anglesea’s name was removed — “redacted” is the technical term — from the Macur Review when it was published in March 2016 because he was due to stand trial on historic child abuse charges.

He was convicted at Mold Crown Court in October 2016 and died in prison shortly after he began a 12 year prison sentence.

The new version of the report — which follows a Rebecca campaign to have the redactions removed — adds to the growing body of evidence showing North Wales Police (NWP) was determined to  protect Anglesea.

It reveals that in 1997 a woman made an allegation that she had been indecently assaulted by Gordon Anglesea.

uISgKo6q_400x400

ALUN CAIRNS
THE WELSH secretary released the revised Macur Review — a report jointly commissioned by the Wales Office and the Ministry of Justice — in a statement to the House of Commons on December 5. For more than a year Rebecca has been calling for an unredacted copy of the report. In the days after Anglesea was convicted, we asked the Ministry of Justice if it would provide an updated version. A spokesman said no. In August this year we made a Freedom of Information request. This was refused – a refusal confirmed by an internal review which added that the information “was intended for future publication”. The Rebecca appeal to the Information Commissioner was being processed when the government decided to publish the amended report… 

The Review says that the woman — “an adult acquaintance of the family” — reported the matter to the North Wales Police.

The force submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service which decided there was “insufficient evidence” to prosecute.

The North Wales Police did not tell the Tribunal — still sitting at this point — about the allegation.

However, there were brief reports about the case in the national press which alerted the Tribunal.

The Macur Review notes that the Tribunal’s legal team wrote to the chairman, Sir Ronald Waterhouse:

“… we have requested sight of the NWP file in respect of the allegation of indecent assault …”

“The NWP’s legal representatives are concerned that this allegation (of indecent assault upon an adult) is entirely irrelevant to the issues before the Tribunal. “

“We believe that we should at least see the file, and unless you take a contrary view, we propose to insist upon its production to us.”

Lady Justice Macur notes that the words “justification needed” were written on the note.

She adds:

“ …  it does not appear that the matter was taken any further.”

The new version of the Macur Review makes it clear that North Wales Police deliberately covered-up a critical element of the case.

Lady Justice Macur reveals that Anglesea had “lied when first questioned under caution” about the alleged offence.

She notes:

“I regard the evidence that Gordon Anglesea had lied when first interviewed under caution about the allegation of indecent assault against an adult acquaintance of the family was relevant to the issue of his credibility.”

“Counsel to the Tribunal do not appear to have been made aware of this fact and would have been at a disadvantage in justifying their request for disclosure.”

“This information may have been significant in the Tribunal’s appraisal of his [Anglesea’s] credibility and would have been ‘fresh’ evidence to that which had been available in the libel trial.”

North Wales Police did not want this damaging piece of evidence to come out.

The force was covering up for Gordon Anglesea …

♦♦♦ 

THE REVIEW also reveals that other important information was kept from the Tribunal.

Lady Justice Macur reveals the existence of an internal memo written by government law officers in May 1993.

This noted that “ … enquiries have also been made concerning Anglesea’s behaviour in other areas of his life.”

This revealed:

“One or two minor items of gossip concerning him have been reported to the investigating officers. For example … seen him at a local homosexual club … not been confirmed.”

These inquiries also included his “domestic life” which “also failed to reveal any indication at all of any homosexual inclinations on his part …”

macur_lj1

LADY JUSTICE MACUR
THE JUDGE, who headed the four year £3 million Macur Review of the Waterhouse Tribunal, revealed an enormous amount of new information. Although much of it was critical of Tribunal chairman and fellow judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse she still decided there were no grounds to overturn his conclusions. Rebecca has challenged her verdict in two articles  — Bloody Whitewash and The £3m Whitewash.

This memo was never mentioned in any of the public hearings of the Tribunal.

Nor was the fact that it was common knowledge among police in Wrexham that Anglesea was having an affair with a young woman police constable (WPC) in the 1980s.

The Macur Review is also silent on this relationship.

The WPC made — but later withdrew — an allegation that Anglesea raped her during a night shift at Wrexham police headquarters.

Rebecca knows her name but is not revealing it — our investigation into this continues.

From 1979 Anglesea was in charge of the Bromfield division which covered outlying districts of Wrexham.

The WPC lived in this area and officers on patrol regularly saw Anglesea’s car outside her home.

The significance of this was to become clear in 1994 when Anglesea sued four media companies for libel.

They accused him of abusing three boys.

During the court case, Anglesea’s defence team portrayed him as a happily-married man.

Many North Wales Police officers will have known that this picture was false.

Yet these officers stood by and watched as the jury found for Anglesea by 10 votes to 2.

He walked away with £375,000 in damages.

♦♦♦ 

THE REVISED version of the Macur Review is also silent about another example of North Wales Police protecting Anglesea.

At the time the Review was established, in 2012, a new police investigation was launched — Operation Pallial, carried by the National Crime Agency on behalf of North Wales Police.

There was an agreement between Operation Pallial and the Macur Review “governing how the two teams would work in tandem”.

anglesea

GORDON ANGLESEA
FROM THE moment allegations of abuse surfaced about the police superintendent in the early 1990s, North Wales Police failed to investigate him properly. In the years that followed the force launched a sophisticated — and successful — operation to cover up its shortcomings. It wasn’t until an outside body — the newly-formed National Crime Agency — was called in that Anglesea was finally brought to book…  
Photo: Trinity Mirror

This means the Macur Review should have been aware of a highly significant incident which took place in April 2002.

Two North Wales Police detectives interviewed a man in Liverpool’s Walton Prison who gave them information about an alleged abuser with a distinctive birthmark.

This man — who can’t be named for legal reasons — gave evidence when Anglesea stood trial in the autumn of 2016.

The jury found his evidence convincing and convicted Anglesea of indecently assaulting him in the 1980s.

Back in 2002, North Wales Police detectives interviewed this prisoner as part of Operation Angel, an investigation into further allegations against already convicted child abuser John Allen.

Internal North Wales Police records show the prisoner handed detectives a piece of paper with the names of three of the men he said had abused him.

The third name on the list consisted of a Christian name: “Gordon”.

The witness noted that “Gordon” was “prim and proper dressed, birthmark on face …”

There followed an exchange of emails which reveal senior officers were aware “Gordon” could well be Anglesea.

One of these emails talked of “keeping quiet”.

A decision was taken not to investigate further.

None of this was known until the National Crime Agency (NCA) began investigating Anglesea in 2012 as part of Operation Pallial.

The NCA were concerned about the way North Wales Police had dealt with this matter and made an official complaint to the force.

Only the two officers who interviewed the prisoner — a detective sergeant and a detective constable — were investigated.

When Anglesea was convicted last October, North Wales Police told Rebecca:

“We can confirm that North Wales Police Professional Standards Department have received a complaint as a result of Operation Pallial that is being investigated.”

North Wales Police have now told us the investigation was “finalised” in October 2016:

“ … there was no case to answer for the two officers; one of whom had retired some time ago.”

 

♦♦♦ 

THE PROTECTION of Gordon Anglesea continued even after he started his 12 year prison sentence.

His conviction meant that his considerable police pension — perhaps as much as £25,000 a year, all fully funded by taxpayers — was potentially forfeit.

This decision was in the hands of the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, retired police inspector Arfon Jones.

arfon-jones

ARFON JONES 
THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for North Wales, Arfon Jones is a retired police officer who worked under Gordon Anglesea in the 1980s. He was a prosecution witness in Anglesea’s criminal trial in 2016. Anglesea claimed he rarely visited the Bryn Estyn children’s home but Arfon Jones told the court he often dropped his boss at the complex.  
Photo: Police & Crime Commissioner’s Office

Under the Police Pensions Regulations 2015 a former police officer can be stripped of his pension if the offences were

“ … committed in connection with the [officer’s] service as a member of a police force and in respect of which the Secretary of State for the Home Department has issued a forfeiture certificate.”

After Anglesea’s conviction, Arfon Jones “concluded this was a case where the forfeiture of pension was appropriate.”

However, he had not applied to the Home Office for a forfeiture certificate by the time Anglesea died in prison on 15 December 2016.

After Anglesea’s death — but without consulting the Home Office — he decided that his widow Sandra should receive half of his pension.

Jones noted:

“There is no precedent in law to with-hold that 50 per cent especially as the beneficiary has not been convicted of any offence.”

♦♦♦ 

NEXT
GORDON ANGLESEA & ARFON JONES: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
NORTH WALES Police Commissioner Arfon Jones has declined to answer Rebecca questions about his role in the Gordon Anglesea affair. Jones, a former North Wales Police inspector, won’t say why he allowed Anglesea’s widow to keep half of his pension without consulting the Home Office. Nor will he explain why his damning testimony against Anglesea in last autumn’s trial did not feature in the hearings of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal in 1996-97. And he won’t say if he made a statement when North Wales Police originally investigated abuse allegations against Anglesea in the early 1990s …

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The revised Macur Review can be found here.

2
Rebecca has published many articles about the North Wale Child Abuse Inquiry — see the Child Abuse and Gordon Anglesea pages for more details.

3
The paragraphs from the Macur Review which relate to this story are:
INDECENT ASSAULT 
7.18
I am aware that an allegation of a relatively minor indecent assault was made against Gordon Anglesea by an adult acquaintance of his family prior to the commencement of the Tribunal hearings. It appears that Counsel to the Tribunal was informed that “the CPS had decided to take no further action in the case on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal proceedings”, but apparently not of the fact that Gordon Anglesea had lied, on his own subsequent admission, when first interviewed under caution about the allegation. A note to the Chairman from Mr Gerard Elias QC and Mr Treverton-Jones indicates that, “we have requested sight of the NWP file in respect of the allegation of indecent assault …The NWP’s legal representatives are concerned that this allegation (of indecent assault upon an adult) is entirely irrelevant to the issues before the Tribunal. We believe that we should at least see the file, and unless you take a contrary view, we propose to insist upon its production to us.” However, a manuscript annotation reads “justification needed” and it does not appear that the matter was taken any further.
7.19
I wrote to the present Chief Constable of the NWP [Mark Polin] on 15 May 2015 in relation to this non disclosure. The Chief Constable responded indicating that there is no material in the possession of the NWP to indicate why the file was not disclosed, but that it is possible that the file’s relevance to the issue of credibility was overlooked. Having looked into the matter, the Chief Constable noted that Gordon Anglesea had been interviewed during the course of the investigation into the indecent assault and an advice file submitted to the CPS, who decided to take no further action.
7.31
I regard the evidence that Gordon Anglesea had lied when first interviewed under caution about the allegation of indecent assault against an adult acquaintance of the family was relevant to the issue of his credibility. Counsel to the Tribunal do not appear to have been made aware of this fact and would have been at a disadvantage in justifying their request for disclosure. It is likely that the NWP overlooked the issue of credibility in favour of considering whether the facts of the alleged offence constituted similar fact evidence. This information may have been significant in the Tribunal’s appraisal of his credibility and would have been ‘fresh’ evidence to that which had been available in the libel trial.
INTERNAL MEMO
5.39  

I have seen the further faxed memorandum from [name redacted] to the Legal Secretariat’s officials on 10 May 1993 dealing at greater length with issues of discrepancy and credibility. It concludes, “although not directly relevant, enquiries have also been made concerning Anglesea’s behaviour in other areas of his life. One or two minor items of gossip concerning him have been reported to the investigating officers. For example … seen him at a local homosexual club … not been confirmed … [enquiries into his] domestic life have also failed to reveal any indications at all of any homosexual inclinations on his part …” A background note briefing the AG [Attorney General] subsequently in July 1993 assessed Gordon Anglesea to be of heterosexual orientation.

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca 2017
Published: 12 December 2017

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THE GREAT WELSH WATER POVERTY RACKET

October 15, 2017

15 October 2017

rebecca_logo_04

WELSH WATER is increasing poverty in Wales.

Nearly 400,000 low-income customers are being failed.

They have lost more than £80 million since the not-for-profit company ended its “customer dividend” in 2010.

The company is also secretly adding an extra £4.90 to their bills this year.

This is to help pay for the company’s range of “social tariffs”.

A Rebecca investigation shows these policies mean:

— just one in seven of the eligible low-income customers are being helped

— Welsh Water is reducing its contribution to social tariffs

— the policies are justified by a bogus consultation exercise

— they help boost the bonus of chief executive Chris Jones.

First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay signed off the policy.

The water regulator, Ofwat, did nothing to prevent the company introducing a discriminatory pricing regime.

Rebecca exposes the great Welsh Water poverty racket.

♦♦♦ 

WELSH WATER’S strategy for dealing with poorer customers is simple.

Any household earning less than £15,000 a year can apply for its flagship HelpU social tariff which caps bills.

The scheme was introduced in 2015.

WELSH WATER LOGO

WELSH WATERGATE
THIS IS the third instalment of a Rebecca investigation that began in 2014. The first article — The Great Welsh Water Robbery — revealed the scale of directors’ pay. We compared Welsh Water’s salaries with the publicly-owned Scottish Water. Welsh Water, half the size of its Scottish cousin, is paying its directors twice as much. 
The piece also claimed that the company’s decision to end its “customer dividend” in 2010 cost consumers £250 million. 
The second instalment — The Great Welsh Water Conspiracy — revealed that water regulator Ofwat effectively fined the company £85 million for a £234 million overspend on its capital expenditure programme between 2010 and 2015. This was the money Rebecca claimed should have gone to customers in the form of reduced bills. 
The article also investigated the company’s use of the Cayman Islands tax haven to borrow money. It raised the possibility that some foreign companies were using the system to avoid paying UK tax.
Rebecca is independent and does not take advertising or sponsorship. Her only income comes from donations …

Originally, the threshold was £12,500 — close to the government’s “relative income poverty” level.

But the company raised the ceiling because:

“… there was a slow uptake of the tariff and analysis of the applications showed that there were a lot of customers who were not eligible as their income was over £12,500 but below £15,000.”

Customers accepted on the HelpU tariff have their bills capped at £190.

The average bill is £439.

By March 2017 the company claimed to have 66,000 customers either on this or one of its other social tariffs.

This is a major boost to low-income families — and Welsh Water is more generous than any of the privately-owned water companies.

But it is a fraction of the numbers who need help.

Welsh Water does not know how many of its 1,442,000 domestic customers are eligible for its social tariffs.

It has only recently commissioned research to try to pinpoint the exact number of vulnerable customers.

But Ofwat, the water regulator, has already done some of the work.

In a 2015 report it concluded that “affordability risks emerge when a household spends more than 3 per cent” of their income on water bills.

Ofwat calculated that nearly a third of Welsh Water’s 1.4 million customers — 32 per cent — were in this category.

This is 460,000 of the company’s domestic consumers.

The earnings of these 460,000 customers was less than £13,300 a year, according to Ofwat’s research.

This is well below Welsh Water’s own £15,000 eligibility figure for its flagship social tariff.

It is also close to the Welsh government’s poverty line.

The company’s says 66,000 of these customers were benefiting from its raft of social tariffs by March 2017.

It means that almost 400,000 are not.

To see what this means in practice, imagine a typical street of terraced houses.

Call it Water Street.

Seven of the households in the street earn less than £15,000 a year and are eligible for reduced bills.

But only one actually receives the social tariff.

This is because customers have to apply for the scheme.

cwmcarn_171014_01_a

WATER STREET
IN OUR fictional street of terraced houses, just one of the seven low-income households who qualify for Welsh Water’s main social tariff actually receive it. There’s also some doubt about the quality of Welsh Water’s figures: its claim that 66,000 customers benefit from the tariffs includes many thousands of consumers with small discounts that are self-funding. For example, customers paying their bills through the benefits system get a discount and the company gets it back because it saves the cost of chasing them for payment. Welsh Water declined to give Rebecca detailed figures for this article.
Photo: Rebecca (this picture of a street in the Valleys is used for illustrative purposes only)

Many are not aware of it — and some, especially pensioners, resent the idea that they’re poor.

So one low-income householder pays a maximum of  £190.

The other six are playing the full bill — on average £439 a year.

♦♦♦ 

UNTIL 2010 all low-income households benefited from Welsh Water’s “customer dividend”.

The company is a “not-for-profit” business which claims to operate solely for customers.

This allowed the company to hand back some of its profits to customers.

Between 2004 and 2010 more than £150 million was distributed equally to all consumers.

In 2010 every customer received a £22 rebate.

This was especially valuable to low-income customers.

But in 2010 the company abandoned the customer dividend and has never restored it.

In previous articles Rebecca has argued this was a mistake.

We estimate the company made more than £300 million in profits in the seven years since 2010.

The company used these profits to reduce its debt.

Rebecca says these profits should have been handed back to customers.

This would have meant that the 400,000 vulnerable customers who currently do not benefit from the social tariffs would have shared more than £83 million.

They would have shared this sum equally — over £200 over the seven years.

To go back to Water Street, our street of terraced houses.

This year only one will be on the social tariff — a reduced bill of £190.

But, with a restored customer dividend, the other six would also have received a reduction this year.

Each would have got £29.

♦♦♦

IT GETS worse.

In 2015 Welsh Water tried to reduce the cost of its social tariffs.

These were the only direct financial benefit any customer gained from the company’s operations.

Between 2010 and 2015 the cost of the scheme was borne by the company at a cost of £22 million.

But in 2015 the board of directors decided to force customers to shoulder some of the burden.

PA-8806261

PROTECTION RACKET
MENNA RICHARDS, the £70,000 a year senior independent director of Welsh Water, is part of the reason why Welsh Water has escaped proper scrutiny. Ever since it was formed in 2001, the company has enjoyed close links with BBC Wales. A former Director of BBC Wales, Menna Richards joined the company even before she stepped down from the broadcasting post in 2011. When she left the Corporation, her place was taken by her protégé Rhodri Talfan Davies. He’s the son of Geraint Talfan Davies who, after he stepped down as head of BBC Wales in 2000 was succeeded by his protégé, Menna Richards. Geraint Talfan Davies was a founding non-executive director of Welsh Water and served for nearly a decade. This means that Welsh Water has always had a powerful media player on its board. There’s no suggestion BBC Wales has been influenced by these connections. 
Photo: PA

It voted to introduce a one-off increase of £13 for every customer.

It claimed this was to cover the cost of taking over private sewers back in 2011.

At the time, the company — like many other water companies — had agreed to absorb the cost.

Now — four years later and completely out of the blue — the company decided to impose the charge.

The charge would have raised an additional £17 million.

Pressure from watchdogs and the regulator Ofwat forced the company to abandon the idea.

But the board of directors remained determined to reduce the cost of the social tariffs — and had another plan up its sleeve.

Back in 2010 the government introduced new legislation — the Flood and Water Management Act.

This allowed water companies to charge some customers to help pay for social tariffs.

For five years, Welsh Water didn’t use this cross-subsidy.

In 2015 it changed its mind.

In that year it secretly added £1 to every customer’s bill to help pay for the social tariffs.

Last year the figure jumped to £2.55 — and this year the figure has risen to £4.90.

The impact on Water Street has been dramatic.

In three years, the six low-income households in Water Street have each been forced to pay an extra £8.45 to subsidise their neighbour’s social tariff.

water_graph_03

SECRET CHARGES 
FOR THE last three years Welsh Water has been secretly adding an additional levy on 1.4 million customers. Already the hidden tax has raised more than £12 million and Rebecca estimates the total will exceed £42 million by 2020.
Graphic: Rebecca

Customers have not been told about these increases — they do not appear on the annual bills.

By March next year, the company will have raised more than £12 million from these extra charges.

The additional revenue raised from customers means the company has reduced its contribution to its social tariffs.

Last September Welsh Water produced a report for its bondholders — the financial institutions which lend the company money.

It noted that its support for the social tariffs will have dropped from an average of £6.5 million in 2017 to £3.6 million by 2020.

Welsh Water also has ambitions to increase the number of people on social tariffs to 100,000 by 2020.

The company told Rebecca this could mean customers being charged the maximum cross subsidy — £12 per customer — in order to fund some of the additional costs.

We can see what this will mean for the terraced houses in Water Street in 2020.

The increased uptake in the social tariff means two households will now be on the social tariff.

The remaining five, though, will now be paying an extra £12 to help subsidise them …

♦♦♦

WELSH WATER claims a major consultation in 2015 approved its current strategy.

Called “Your Company, Your Say” it generated nearly 12,000 replies and forms the basis of the company’s policies for the five years between 2015 and 2020.

Welsh Water claims this survey backed its proposals.

But the consultation was a carefully contrived public relations stunt.

Neither the 40 page outline of the five year plan nor the 12 page questionnaire were honest.

There’s no mention that the company expected to make a surplus of £40 million a year over the five years.

There is no mention of the possibility of using these profits to restore the customer dividend.

The only question which touched on this issue was on the level of bills.

The question asked was “Investment vs Bills”:

“We want to get the balance right between doing more to prepare for … future challenges and keeping your bills affordable.”

“Which would be your preferred option?”

Four options were then given: reduce bills by £10, keep them the same, increase them by £10 or £20.

INVESTMENT vs BILLS JPEG

LOADED QUESTION
THE QUESTIONNAIRE used by Welsh Water included only one option for reducing bills. Cutting bills by £10 is equal to a “customer dividend” of £14 million. Yet the company makes at least £40 million profit every year. An option to reduce the bills by £20 or £30 should have been included… 
Illustration: Welsh Water

Only the £10 reduction involved a partial restoration of the customer dividend.

It would have cost the company £14 million.

But the questionnaire was not enthusiastic about the option, warning those who ticked this option:

“ … this means doing less to prepare for future challenges.”

In a report on the consultation the then company chairman Robert Ayling said

“Your feedback told us that we’d generally struck the right balance between investment and bills, whilst you didn’t want to see a deterioration in service, even if that could lead to a lower bill”.

He added:

“However, you also told us that keeping bills low is a big priority, and some customers said that a reduction in bills would be welcome.”

Rebecca asked the company for details of the voting on this question.

Welsh Water declined to provide them.

♦♦♦ 

ON THE question of how to handle low-income customers — “helping people who struggle to pay their bill” — the company was even less transparent. 

The questionnaire stated:

“We would spend more to help these people, but it would mean that most of our customers would be paying a little extra on their bill to help those struggling the most”.

It then asks:

“How important is this to you and your community?”

No options were given about the amount of any possible increase.

Instead respondents were given the opportunity of expressing a feeling about it by choosing one of five faces.

Four of them were approving — from happy right through to ecstatic.

Only one of them was neutral.

HAPPY EMOJIS JPEG

LAUGHABLE
IN ITS questionnaire Welsh Water gave customers five choices. One of the five was neutral, the next was happy, followed by very happy and ultra happy. The final choice looked like a character who’d taken magic mushrooms. A balanced survey would have had a neutral option in the centre with two negative faces on the left and two positive faces on the right.
Illustration: Welsh Water

There was no negative option.

A genuine survey would have given concrete examples of what “a little extra” would actually mean.

This should have included a range from paying nothing right up to the legal maximum of £12.

Once again, Welsh Water would not give us the detailed responses to this question.

The company believes this survey — of less than one per cent of its customer base — gives it a licence to charge right up to the £12 maximum.

But, in practice, the vast majority had no say in the process.

And, until this article, they have not even been told the level of the charges they’re being forced to pay.

We could find no evidence the scale of charges has ever been published.

We asked the company if this was correct.

Its reply was:

“As far as we are aware.”

♦♦♦ 

WELSH WATER’S squeeze on the poor is taking place against a background of growing austerity.

The company’s average £439 bill is £44 more expensive than the England and Wales average.

At the same time Welsh average earnings are among the lowest in the UK.

Research by the Wales TUC says that, after inflation, average pay in Wales actually fell by more than 8 per cent between 2010-2014.

In 2013 the water regulator Ofwat realised its 2010-2015 price review had been too generous to water companies, including Welsh Water.

They were making greater profits than expected because of higher inflation and lower interest charges.

Ofwat chairman Jonson Cox wrote to all the companies in October 2013 .

He said:

“ … having compared the harsh pressure on customers and the generous returns to water company shareholders from macro-economic factors over recent years, I … have been banging the drum about customers and water bills for most of the last year.”

He urged them to consider forgoing all or part of the price increase for the year 2014-2015.

JOHNSON COX

JONSON COX
THE CHAIRMAN of the water regulator Ofwat, Jonson Cox tried — unsuccessfully — to persuade Welsh Water to hand back some of its profits to consumer in 2013.  But why did he make no attempt to stop the company introducing its discriminatory cross-subsidies in 2015? We asked him — he didn’t answer.
Photo: Ofwat

Five of the ten companies did so.

Welsh Water was not one of them.

♦♦♦ 

THE SITUATION for poor customers is set to get worse.

Back in 2014 the Consumer Council for Water produced a report called “Living with water poverty”.

It noted that new factors were making it harder for poorer households to meet their bills:

“… these are the rise of payday lending and zero hours contracts and the changes to welfare and benefit payments.”

It added that this was forcing some customers to use food banks.

By the time Welsh Water axed its “customer dividend” in 2010, there were 16 food banks in Wales.

By December 2015 the number had jumped to 157.

In February this year a study by the Resolution Foundation found that low income families are facing a triple whammy.

Rising inflation, falling wages and £12 billion in welfare cuts as Universal Credit is rolled out would slash their income over the next four years:

“A typical family with children is set to have a lower disposable income … in 2020-21 … than a typical family this year …”

These families, it concluded, would lose £600.

♦♦♦ 

THERE’S ANOTHER twist in this tale.

Welsh Water’s chief executive Chris Jones has a complex pay package.

On top of his £292,000 basic salary he has a bonus scheme.

The scheme — which takes up 13 pages of the annual report compared to just a couple of paragraphs on the social tariffs — is complex.

Part of the bonus is based on the increase in the company’s reserves.

GDP_2633 - Chris Jones

JONES THE MONEY
WHILE THE poor get poorer — and most of the rest of Wales treads water financially — austerity hasn’t touched chief executive Chris Jones. Last year his salary was £292,000 — but that’s just for starters. Bonus and pension contributions take the total to £773,000. It would take a Welsh Water customer on the company’s main HelpU tariff half a century to make that much money.
Photo: Welsh Water

These have been growing mainly because Welsh Water doesn’t give customers a dividend.

It is also higher because the company has shunted some of the cost of the social tariffs onto customers.

In the last two years Chris Jones has earned at least £130,000 from this element of the bonus scheme.

We asked Welsh Water exactly how much of this was earned as a result of axing the customer dividend and making most customers pay extra for the social tariffs.

The company told us:

“You are misinterpreting the way the scheme works and this is misleading for readers.”

It insisted the scheme:

“  … actually rewards the total value created for customers, including the value of social tariff subsidies made as well as the growth in reserves.”

We asked the company for evidence of this — we could find no reference to the social tariffs being part of the scheme.

The company declined to provide it …

♦♦♦ 

ON THURSDAY we sent Welsh Water an online of this article.

On Friday the company gave us a long statement.

It did not challenge our analysis of the cross-subsidies or the fact that the majority of low-income customers are not helped.

The statement insisted:

“The article is fundamentally wrong and paints an inaccurate and distorted view of the help we offer those customers who genuinely struggle to pay.”

“Needless to say, we strongly disagree with it.”

“We are currently helping almost 90,000 customers and have committed to increasing this to over 100,000 by 2020 – more than any other water company.”

“At the moment, we are currently signing up on average 160 customers a day to one of our assistance plans and working with around 160 organisations to identify those that we can help”

“As a company, we are committed to helping those customers who genuinely struggle to pay and are proud of the extensive range of support we offer.

“We have no intention of capping the figure at 100,000 when it is reached.”

“We know that at least almost 41,000 customers already save at least £250 on their bill through our HelpU tariff.”

In answer to our criticism of the consultation process which led to cross-subsidies being introduced, the statement noted:

“The claim that our assistance scheme has been implemented in secrecy is wrong.”

“Customer, media and stakeholder engagement has regularly referred to the assistance we provide.”

“The level of support from Welsh Water customers to support those customers who genuinely struggle to pay has always been higher than the level of support seen by other companies in the sector across the UK.”

“Indeed, research commissioned in 2014 looking specifically at the levels of support for assistance tariffs, found that 75% of our customers supported a contribution of up to £15 for supporting those genuinely struggling to pay.”

We asked to see this research but the company declined to provide it.

♦♦♦ 

WE ALSO wrote to First Minister Carwyn Jones.

His Labour administration in Cardiff sets water policy for Wales and was involved in setting Welsh Water’s social tariffs.

We asked the First Minister if he was aware that the company was now charging a large number of poor customers for the privilege of helping a much smaller number of low-income families.

“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul,” our letter noted.

Joint ministerial council summit

NO REPLY
FIRST MINISTER Carwyn Jones did not answer our email asking him about the Welsh government’s apparent support for Welsh Water’s discriminatory social tariffs.
Photo: PA

“By allowing the many to pay for the few, it goes against the policy of Labour nationally”.

The letter urged him

“— to put a stop to the cross-subsidies

— to force the company to repay the £8.45 as soon as possible

— to restore the customer dividend so that those not on the social tariffs at least get some financial benefit.”

Mr Jones did not reply.

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Published: 15 October 2017
© Rebecca

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NOTE

Statement from Dŵr Cymru Re: Welsh Water
13 October 2017

The article is fundamentally wrong and paints an inaccurate and distorted view of the help we offer those customers who genuinely struggle to pay. Needless to say, we strongly disagree with it.

As we have already pointed out to you, the interpretation of how our Long Term Variable Pay Scheme (LTSVP) is operated is fundamentally wrong. To begin with, any insinuation that the LTVPS is designed in a way that gives a personal disincentive to fund social tariffs is simply wrong. You are misinterpreting the way the scheme works and this is misleading for readers. Our LTVPS actually rewards the total value created for customers, including the value of social tariff subsidies made as well as the growth in reserves. What this means is that we are equally as incentivised to pay social tariffs as we are to retain reserves.

We are currently helping almost 90,000 customers and have committed to increasing this to over 100,000 by 2020 – more than any other water company. At the moment, we are currently signing up on average 160 customers a day to one of our assistance plans and working with around 160 organisations to identify those that we can help. As a company, we are committed to helping those customers who genuinely struggle to pay and are proud of the extensive range of support we offer.

As a company we are proud to be able to say that we do more than any of the companies in our sector to help those customers who genuinely struggle to pay. Indeed, some companies have set a cap on the number of customers they support and only allow new customers to join their assistance schemes when another customer come off it. We have no intention of capping the figure at 100,000 when it is reached. We know that at least almost 41,000 customers already save at least £250 on their bill through our HelpU tariff.

The level of support from Welsh Water customers to support those customers who genuinely struggle to pay has always been higher than the level of support seen by other companies in the sector across the UK. Indeed, research commissioned in 2014 looking specifically at the levels of support for assistance tariffs, found that 75% of our customers supported a contribution of up to £15 for supporting those genuinely struggling to pay.

To conclude:

—  Any insinuation that Chris or any of the company directors are benefiting financially from money that would otherwise be used for assistance tariffs is wrong.

— The interpretation of LTSVP as diverting profit to increase reserves is wrong

—  The claim that the number of customers actually benefitting from the support we offer is below 66,000 is wrong. We are supporting almost 90,000.

— The claim that our assistance scheme has been implemented in secrecy is wrong. Customer, media and stakeholder engagement has regularly referred to the assistance we provide.

— The claim that the company’s contribution to social tariffs is decreasing is wrong.

—  The interpretation of our customer engagement and research is wrong.

Ends

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NEXT
GORDON ANGLESEA & ARFON JONES: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
NORTH WALES Police Commissioner Arfon Jones has declined to answer Rebecca questions about his role in the Gordon Anglesea affair. Anglesea died last year after he was gaoled for 12 years for historic child sex abuse. Jones, a former North Wales Police inspector, won’t say why he allowed Anglesea’s widow to keep half of his pension without consulting the Home Office. Nor will he explain why his damning testimony against Anglesea in last autumn’s trial did not feature in the hearings of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal in 1996-97. And he won’t say if he made a statement when North Wales Police originally investigated abuse allegations against Anglesea in 1991 …

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GORDON ANGLESEA: APPLICATION FOR £150,000 PROSECUTION COSTS DROPPED

October 1, 2017

1 October 2017
rebecca_logo_04

A COURT application to make Gordon Anglesea pay £150,000 towards the cost of his prosecution last autumn has been abandoned.

The retired North Wales Police superintendent was given a 12 year prison sentence in November for sexually abusing two boys in the 1980s.

After the trial an application was made that he should pay £150,000 towards the cost of the prosecution which included a six-week trial at Mold Crown Court.

Anglesea died in prison in December.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has told Rebecca the application has now been withdrawn.

However, a separate investigation into Anglesea under the Proceeds of Crime Act continues.

Gordon Anglesea

GORDON ANGLESEA
THE DISGRACED police superintendent died before he could be stripped of his publicly-funded police pension. His death meant that his estate has also avoided a possible £150,000 bill to cover part of the costs of the prosecution against him. However, the National Crime Agency have confirmed that an investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is continuing.
Picture: © Daily Mirror

The NCA also confirmed that Operation Pallial, its investigation into historic child abuse in North Wales, is investigating a further 31 suspects.

Fifteen of these suspects are the subject of advice files currently being considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.

The remaining 16 are the subject of ongoing investigations which are expected to take more than a year to complete.

The NCA also confirmed that “a number of matters” — understood not to involve child abuse — are also being considered by CPS Wales.

As Rebecca reported last month, Operation Pallial had cost £4.3 million up to the end of March.

A further £1.2 million will be spent this year.

To date nine men have been convicted and eight have been gaoled.

A total of 361 complainants came forward and 143 suspects were investigated.

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Published: 1 October 2017
© Rebecca 2017

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NEXT
GORDON ANGLESEA & ARFON JONES: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
NORTH WALES Police Commissioner Arfon Jones has declined to answer Rebecca questions about his role in the Gordon Anglesea affair. Jones, a former North Wales Police inspector, won’t say why he allowed Anglesea’s widow to keep half of his pension without consulting the Home Office. Nor will he explain why his damning testimony against Anglesea in last autumn’s trial did not feature in the hearings of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal in 1996-97. And he won’t say if he made a statement when North Wales Police originally investigated abuse allegations against Anglesea in 1991 …

♦♦♦ 

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OPERATION PALLIAL COST RISES TO £4.3 MILLION

September 15, 2017

15 September 2017
rebecca_logo_04
THE COST of Operation Pallial — the police investigation
 into historic allegations of child abuse in North Wales — has risen to £4.3 million.

The figure, obtained by Rebecca under a Freedom of Information request, was the total at the end of March this year.

A further £1.2 million has been earmarked for this financial year.

The inquiry, carried out by the National Crime Agency on behalf of North Wales Police, is largely underwritten by the government.

The Home Office has paid 85 per cent of the cost — leaving the North Wales force with a bill of £671,000.

An additional £278,000 has been spent by the National Crime Agency.

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SO FAR nine men have been convicted and eight have gone to prison as a result of Operation Pallial.

One was gaoled for life and the others for a total of 55 years and 9 months.

They are:

Gordon Anglesea 

The retired North Wales Police superintendent is the most controversial figure in the child abuse scandal.

He was first accused a quarter of a century ago.

At the time the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Anglesea then successfully sued two national newspapers, the magazine Private Eye and HTV in 1994.

He received £375,000 in damages.

In November 2016 he was gaoled for 12 years after new witnesses came forward.

A jury unanimously found him guilty of four counts of indecent assaults on two boys in the 1980s.

anglesea

GORDON ANGLESEA
THE TRIAL of the former North Wales Police superintendent took place at Mold Crown Court last autumn. The jury of five woman and six men found him guilty of indecently assaulting two boys in the 1980s but cleared him of buggering one of them. He died at Rye Hill prison in Warwickshire in December 2016.
Photo: Trinity Mirror

He died in prison after serving 42 days of his sentence.

John Ernest Allen 

In 2014 John Allen, the former head of the private Bryn Alyn Community complex in Wrexham, was sentenced to life for sexually abusing 19 children in the 1970s and 1980s.

It was his second conviction — in 1995 he was gaoled for six years for abusing six residents of Bryn Alyn.

Allen is the most prolific child abuser in the North Wales scandal.

Roger Griffiths 

The former head of Gatewen Hall, part of the Bryn Alyn Community, was gaoled for 9 months in April this year.

He admitted possessing 51 indecent images of humans and animals engaging in sexual acts.

In June 2015 he was acquitted of two counts of historic indecent assault.

In 1999 he was gaoled for eight years for a serious sexual assault on a boy, an indecent assault on another boy and several counts of child cruelty.

Keith Alan Evans

The former care-worker at the Bryn Alyn Community was given an eight months suspended sentence in March 2016 for a physical assault on a resident in 1983.

He was cleared of physically assaulting six other boys.

Gary Cooke

A serial sex offender, Cooke was gaoled in October 2015 for 14 years on 15 counts of indecent and sexual assault.

The court heard five vulnerable young boys were lured to his home in Wrexham and plied with alcohol and other drugs before being abused by Cooke and others.

Cooke has used many aliases during his long career — he now calls himself Mark Grainger.

He has convictions for child abuse stretching back to the 1970s.

006_ALLEN

JOHN ALLEN
CURRENTLY SERVING a life sentence handed down in 2014. In total, he abused 25 children in his care at the private Bryn Alyn Community. The complex of care homes around Wrexham was an immensely profitable business — local authorities in England and Wales paid him more than £30 million between 1974 and 1991 to look after problem children.

David Lightfoot

The former Wrexham publican, an associate of Gary Cooke, was sent to prison for 10 years on eight counts of indecent and sexual assault.

Roy Norry

An ex-local radio reporter, Norry was another of those involved in Cooke’s paedophile ring.

He was gaoled for 11 years on six counts of indecent and sexual assault.

Neil Phoenix

Gaoled for three and a half years on one count of sexually abusing a boy at Gary Cooke’s home.

Julian Huxley

The former Metropolitan Police officer was gaoled for four and a half years on two charges of indecent assault.

Huxley was working as a civilian at Wrexham Barracks at the time of the offences.

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THE CPS are considering files on further suspects.

Operation Pallial continues to investigate other historic abuse allegations.

 

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Published15 Sept 2017
© Rebecca
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COMING
THE MYSTERY OF ARFON JONES 
THE POLICE COMMISSIONER for North Wales has declined to answer Rebecca questions about his role in the case of Gordon Anglesea. He has refused to ask the Home Office to strip the disgraced former superintendent of his fully-funded police pension. And he won’t explain why his damning testimony against Anglesea at last year’s trial never surfaced in the 1996-2000 North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal …

♦♦♦

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