THE FALL OF JOHN ARTHUR JONES

September 16, 2016

rebecca_logo_04TODAY ONE of Anglesey’s most controversial figures was finally brought to book.

John Arthur Jones — disgraced council official and failed politician — was given an 18 months sentence for endangering RAF training jets.

Judge Geraint Walters told him he was a man driven by “arrogance”.

A jury had earlier found him guilty of 13 counts of shining bright lights into the cockpits of Hawk jets taking part in night manoeuvres at the Mona airfield.

The jets fly over Jones’ Parc Cefni business park next to his home in the village of Bodffordd near Llangefni.

The prison sentence is the climax of a saga that started more than thirty years ago.

For three decades John Arthur Jones ruthlessly exploited the council in his attempt to create a multi-million pound property empire.

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IN 2012 John Arthur Jones started a campaign against the RAF.

He objected to jets from RAF Valley using the Mona Airfield near his business park for night exercises.

Valley is home to the RAF’s 208 Squadron which uses Hawk jets to train fighter pilots.

Mona has been used by the RAF for more than a century.

Jones’ Parc Cefni business park, which also includes his home, is under the flight path of the Hawks.

Jones initially asked the RAF to change the route to avoid the complex which includes a children’s nursery.

JAJ_01
“JESUS” ARTHUR JONES
IN 1998 John Arthur Jones gave an interview to HTV’s current affairs programme Wales This Week. He’d just been sacked as Anglesey County Council’s Housing Director because the authority had lost confidence in him. Jones compared himself to Jesus: “A man stood in front of Pilate two thousand years ago and Pilate said I can see nothing wrong in this man. But at that time the Pharisees said crucify him. Now then, the descendants of those Pharisees are living today on Anglesey – they’re saying crucify him.”

He felt that the flights intensified after he made this request — and complained to the newspapers.

In September 2012 the Daily Mail published  an article in which Jones threatened to step up his campaign.

He asked:

“Are our children being subjected, as some say in the village, to punishment by a gang of Hooray Henrys for daring to ask if they will fly over open fields instead of a children’s nursery?”

In another letter, he warned:

“Since you have refused to send independent observers to Parc Cefni I will be arranging for a weather balloon to be raised daily at the corner of our property. It will be taken down each evening at midnight.”

This prompted the RAF to ask North Wales Police to visit Jones — a move he branded “heavy-handed and sinister”.

He dropped the weather balloon idea — but in 2013 began to shine a bright light into the cockpits of the jets as they approached Parc Cefni.

Several landings at Mona had to be abandoned because of the danger to pilots.

Undercover police mounted a surveillance operation and, on one occasion, saw Jones tracking the planes with a powerful torch.

In October 2014 he was charged in connection with 13 incidents of endangering aircraft between November 2013 and September 2014.

Jones denied all the charges and called members of his family to give evidence.

His daughter Catrin Lloyd Davies, a solicitor, and her husband, army captain Gareth Lloyd Davies gave Jones an alibi for one of the incidents.

They said the family had had a meal together and Jones didn’t leave the house.

Jones denied his campaign was actually driven by his failure to sell any of the planned holiday chalets on the site because potential buyers were put off by the jets.

Jones’ barrister Lisa Judge compared her client to the TV character Victor Meldrew.

In June this year a jury of 11 found him guilty of all 13 counts.

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THIS AFTERNOON Jones’ barrister Lisa Judge asked for an adjournment, telling the court Jones had attended a medical examination this morning.

Another was booked tomorrow — with a biopsy scheduled for later this month.

She said he was “a man potentially facing death” with a possibility “he could die in prison”.

Judge Walters said that he’d been told nothing about these tests until this week.

He noted that it was John Arthur Jones who had commissioned the examinations — and that he was paying for them privately.

He’d heard nothing from a consultant telling him exactly what the problem was.

In the absence of a proper diagnosis, he said, the claim that John Arthur Jones might be dying was simply “courtroom advocacy”.

He dismissed the application.

He told Jones he was a man  of “arrogance”.

He did not believe his claim that his campaign against the RAF was motivated solely by concern for the children attending the nursery at Parc Cefni:

“That was only one of the many lies you told during the trial.”

His actions were “highly reckless”.

He sentenced him to 18 months in gaol for each of the 13 counts, the sentences to run concurrently.

Tonight he is on his way to Altcourse Prison in Liverpool …

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JOHN ARTHUR JONES’ interest in the Bodffordd area began in the 1980s.

He bought a piece of agricultural land on a hill overlooking the village.

It enjoyed a magnificent view of the island, the nearby Cefni Reservoir and Snowdonia.

In 1987 Jones applied for planning permission to build a bungalow at the top of the hill.

He wrote to the director of planning to say that “for 10 years I have been looking for a suitable site on which to develop a fish farm”.

This particular site was perfect for the operation, he said, but there  was just one snag — security.

Jones wrote:

” … the best possible deterrent is to live on the site and be in a position to see the ponds by day and which can be lit up at night.”

Planners were opposed.

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COUNCIL HOUSE
THIS IS Nant Garedig, the house John Arthur Jones built in the 1990s. It’s one of scores of houses constructed by Anglesey councillors on land that the council’s own plans say shouldn’t be built on. The current owners have no connection to John Arthur Jones.
Photo: Rebecca

The application was in “conflict with the approved Anglesey Structure Plan Policies”.

But approval was given by other officers using delegated powers.

By 1990, by which time Jones had been appointed Housing Director, the permission to build the bungalow had sprouted dormer windows.

The fish farm never materialised.

At present day values, the planning permission was worth between £125,000 and £150,000.

He did not start building the house —  known as Nant Garedig — until the mid 1990s.

The construction was to be as controversial as the planning permission …

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WHEN JOHN Arthur Jones finally built Nant Garedig he did it on the cheap.

The foundations included hardcore which came from the former Shell oil terminal at Rhosgoch.

The council took control of the terminal in 1990, the year John Arthur Jones became Director of Housing.

The site was managed by the Housing Department.

At that time there were some 15,000 tonnes of hardcore left on the site.

In the years that followed much of it disappeared.

John Arthur Jones placed an ad in the local paper calling for tenders for what he called the remaining “random rubble”.

One of the successful tenders — for 200 tonnes at 50 pence a tonne — came from John Arthur Jones himself.

It went into the foundations of Nant Garedig.

The Housing Department did not send its Director a bill until two and a half years later.

Jones said he had asked for an invoice on three separate occasions.

When the District Auditor investigated this issue, he noted that this invoice was finally raised “during the period when the Director was being investigated by the police”.

The council also accepted a bid for the “random rubble” from a builder called O J D Griffiths.

In October 1996 John Arthur Jones drafted a letter warning the contractor that he had “carried a large quantity of stone” from the site “in direct contravention of the prohibition” not to enter the site without permission.

The implication was that he’d taken the stone without paying for it.

“Before I refer the matter to the Police for further investigation,” Jones continued, “I invite you to respond to these allegations.”

O J D Griffiths never got the chance to reply because the letter was never sent.

An official in the Housing Department, Paul Roberts, noted:

“John Arthur Jones … said letter not to go – speak to the contractor instead.”

The District Auditor investigated.

“I am particularly concerned,” he wrote in his report, “to discover that during this period Mr O J D Griffiths was undertaking work on the home of Paul Roberts … and later in the year sold and delivered hardcore from the [Rhosgoch] site to the Director of Housing and Property [John Arthur Jones] which was in the process of being constructed.”

“The apparent lenient approach taken by these officers towards this contractor represents, in my view, extremely poor judgement, particularly in the light of their personal contractual relationship with the contractor.”

At the same time the District Auditor was investigating, police began looking at some of the men working on the building of Jones’ new house.

Several were receiving housing benefit.

JAJ_02
“I DON’T BELIEVE IT!”
JOHN ARTHUR JONES — the man his barrister likened to Victor Meldrew — is no stranger to the police. In the late 1990s, after he’d been arrested by the North Wales Police investigating his use of builders on housing benefit, he went on holiday with a detective inspector from the same force. In the same period he also offered the former head of Anglesey police a contract — tracking down housing benefit fraudsters …

At the time his own housing department was mounting an operation to prevent housing benefit fraud.

John Arthur Jones was arrested in 1997 by detectives from the North Wales Police.

Eventually, he was charged with misuse of public office, intimidating witnesses and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The case later collapsed after prosecution witnesses admitted discussing the case during the trial.

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BUT MAKING a small fortune on his new home wasn’t enough for John Arthur Jones — he wanted to be a property tycoon.

In the early 2000s Welsh Water decided to sell its Bodffordd depot next to the Cefni Reservoir.

John Arthur Jones thought it was an ideal site for a private housing development.

He bought the five acre site for £241,000 in September 2003.

The previous month he’d sold Nant Garedig for £365,000 — and moved into the small bungalow that came with the Welsh Water depot.

He wanted permission to build 22 Canadian-style wooden chalets.

The council was happy to give him permission but insisted on conditions, the most important of which was that the park be managed as a single business.

This meant that Jones could not sell individual plots.

He has always maintained that this condition was unlawful and, many years later, a government planning inspector agreed and ordered the council to remove the condition.

Jones has always insisted that those people who criticised his plans  “… have a personal agenda based on malice and jealousy”.

Jones built two of the Canadian-style chalets but was never able to sell either of them on the open market.

The fact that the RAF conducted low-flying exercises was one of the reasons which put off potential buyers.

The remaining 20 chalets have never been built.

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IN 2004 John Arthur Jones was elected to the council.

A year later he had his own political party — the Radical Independents.

There were just four members — Jones was the leader and he was joined by Hefin Wyn Roberts, John Rowlands and David Lewis Roberts.

The group was small but held the balance of power on the island.

The glue that held the Radical Independents together was greed.

John Rowlands and David Lewis Roberts wanted the valuable planning permissions —  worth between £100,000 and £150,000 — which John Arthur Jones and Hefin Wyn Roberts already enjoyed.

John Rowlands got his almost immediately, despite objections from planners.

He’d given a field to his daughter and she was given permission to build a new house because she wanted to return to the island.

After she received the permission, she sold the site for £150,000.

David Lewis Roberts went one step further.

He secretly bought a plot of land near Benllech — and then tried to smash the council’s green belt policy preventing new building in the area.

When another councillor accused Roberts of corruption, Roberts complained to the Ombudsman who referred the matter to the council’s Standards Committee.

The committee decided that David Lewis Roberts was, indeed, corrupt.

It ruled that his conduct “had been within the generally understood meaning of ‘corrupt’ …”

and

“gave a clear impression that he had misused his position for personal advantage, and that it amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.”

The police were not interested in prosecuting Roberts.

But the electorate took a dim view of the chaos John Arthur Jones and his Radical Independents had unleashed.

In the election of 2008, John Arthur Jones lost his seat.

The turmoil he’d triggered continued for years afterwards, forcing the Welsh government to take over the running of the council in 2011.

The intervention lasted several years.

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Published: 16 September 2016
© Rebecca
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Note
This article is based on a series of pieces already published. They are:

MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU

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MAY THE FARCE BE WITH YOU

September 24, 2013

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THE BATTLE to force North Wales Police to launch a corruption investigation against a former Anglesey councillor is being lost.

The councillor was branded “corrupt” by the authority’s own Standards Committee last year.

It said his actions “amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office”.

When the authority refused to report the bent councillor to the police, Rebecca Television did so.

For eleven months, two senior detectives did little but read council documents.

Finally, one of them claimed there were “inherent difficulties” in bringing a case “without the matter being subject of a formal complaint by an individual …”

This statement is false.

In April this year a local resident who claims he lost money as a result of the corrupt councillor’s actions wrote to the chief constable and asked him to investigate.

A few days after Rebecca Television pointed out this glaring error, detectives turned up on the resident’s doorstep…

This farce follows a long catalogue of questionable behaviour which suggests the force is institutionally devious.

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IN OCTOBER last year Rebecca Television wrote to North Wales Police Chief Constable Mark Polin.

This letter asked him to investigate an extraordinary decision of Anglesey County Council’s Standards Committee in August 2012.

The committee — which polices the behaviour of councillors — found that former member David Lewis Roberts had acted corruptly.

He had spoken in favour of  planning applications in an area called Shepherds Hill where he had secretly bought land.

He paid just £15,000 for nine acres of land and tried to overturn tight controls on building new houses in the area.

Had he succeeded, the land would have rocketed in value.

(The full story is told in the article The Case of the Corrupt Councillor).

The committee said his “conduct gave a clear impression he had misused his position for personal advantage, and that it amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office”.

It added “Mr David Lewis Roberts’ conduct in local planning matters in the public office of county councillor had been within the generally understood meaning of ‘corrupt’ …”

However, the Standards Committee decided not to take any further action against Roberts, partly because he was no longer a councillor.

Rebecca Television asked the Chief Constable “to formally investigate this matter”.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Williams, based in Caernarfon, was given the job of establishing if there was enough evidence to start an investigation.

In November he wrote to say he had obtained all the papers involved in the Standards Committee hearing and promised an update “in the early part of next year”.

It wasn’t until April that he wrote again.

He said he had now assessed these papers and asked for further documentation.

“The relevant documents were received from the council in mid-February and the information is now being analysed to enable an accurate determination of whether there exists any evidence to support a claim of criminal conduct.”

He added, however, that he was moving to a different area and the matter would be passed to another detective.

This was Detective Chief Inspector Iestyn Davies.

By this time Rebecca Television had discovered that David Lewis Roberts had lied to the Standards Committee about the date he bought the land.

He had, in fact, actually purchased the site six months earlier — and had failed to declare an interest when he spoke up on a planning application from the family he had purchased his land from.

BENT Former Anglesey County Council David Lewis Roberts — branded corrupt by the authority's Standards Committee. But North Wales appear reluctant to launch a criminal investigation against him.

BENT
Former Anglesey County Council David Lewis Roberts — branded “corrupt” by the authority’s Standards Committee. But North Wales Police is reluctant to launch a criminal investigation against him.

This application was later approved, adding more than £100,000 to the value of the plot.

We sent the evidence to Iestyn Davies.

DCI Davies appears to have started from scratch.

In June he wrote to say “I am still reviewing a mountain of paperwork obtained from the council. I should get it done this week.”

In July he said he was planning to meet the council.

Earlier this month we wrote to him again, noting the “snail’s pace evaluation of the David Lewis Roberts’ issue”.

DCI Davies replied to say that he now saw “inherent difficulties in pursuing this matter to a court of law without the matter being subject of a formal complaint by an individual or a public authority such as the Council”.

On September 9 we emailed to say that he was wrong.

The matter had been the subject of a formal complaint.

In April this year Shepherds Hill resident Adrian Broad wrote to Chief Constable Mark Polin to ask him to investigate allegations of corruption against David Lewis Roberts.

Broad lives next to the parcel of land which David Lewis Roberts had bought.

He was convinced Roberts was going to obtain planning permission — and felt he had no option but to pay a high price for a small piece of land to create a buffer zone.

In May he received a reply from Polin’s office saying his letter “is currently receiving attention”.

A few days after Rebecca Television pointed out the mistake to DCI Davies, two detectives visited Adrian Broad.

If detectives had visited Shepherds Hill earlier they would also have found other residents willing to make formal complaints.

And there is one individual who would have been more than happy to talk to them — former councillor Barrie Durkin.

Durkin has openly been denouncing David Lewis Roberts as “corrupt” for seven years.

Durkin was a key figure in the Standards committee meeting.

The committee was hearing a report from Ombudsman Peter Tyndall which found that Durkin’s description of Roberts as “corrupt” was a breach of the council’s code of conduct.

Unlike the Ombudsman, the committee actually examined Durkin’s evidence against Roberts — and found it justified.

Rebecca Television will now lodge complaints against DCIs Andrew Williams and Iestyn Williams with the Professional Standards unit of North Wales Police.

“Going on past experience, the two officers will be exonerated,” commented editor Paddy French.

“And, on one level, that’s likely to be fair enough — both detectives were probably acting on orders from headquarters in Colwyn Bay.”

“But, once they have been cleared, Rebecca Television can appeal the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Committee.”

“That allows the possibility that the IPCC can consider if the force have been party to a cover-up of serious allegations of corrupt activity on its patch.”

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THIS IS the second time North Wales Police have examined allegations against David Lewis Roberts.

The first time happened by accident.

In 2008 the then Managing Director of Anglesey County Council, Derrick Jones, was trying to obtain anonymous letters from the ITV Wales This Week programme.

These appeared to come from within the council’s senior management.

One of them stated: “We are fairly senior people and are close enough to the action to see what’s really going on and thus are very unhappy especially in regard to the highly biased, political  … role that [some] … managers are willing to play for some pretty ruthless local politicians.”

ITV would not surrender the letters without a court order.

Derrick Jones asked North Wales Police to intervene.

NORTH WALES POLICEA long history of being economical with the truth.

NORTH WALES POLICE
A long history of being economical with the truth.

A letter from acting Superintendent Peter Gaffey, arrived at ITV Wales in Cardiff.

He wanted to see the letters to “assess the contents and ascertain if it warrants a criminal investigation.”

He promised he wouldn’t show the letters to the council.

ITV Wales told him that there would need to be a criminal investigation and a court application before the letters could be released.

The council never obtained the letters.

However Paddy French, then a producer with Wales This Week, thought that if the force was really interested in possible criminality, there was one obvious place to look.

“I wrote to Gaffey and asked him to look at the activities of David Lewis Roberts,” said French.

“I pointed out that the council had rejected a report from its own external auditors which said it was “imperative” the authority investigate alleged breaches of the planning rules by Roberts.”

“The council refused to do so.”

“I thought it was worth the force investigating to see if Roberts had also broken the criminal law.”

“I made it plain that residents of Shepherds Hill were saying that Roberts had bought the land and was determined to get planning permission on it.”

“What they were claiming turned out to be remarkably accurate — they correctly identified the land, the number of acres and the price.”

“I marked my letter “private & confidential” because I was concerned about the destruction of evidence.”

“I was shocked to discover Gaffey then gave a copy to the council.”

It took Gaffey less than two months to consider the issue.

He wrote that if Roberts “had failed to declare an interest as required in a planning application with the intention of making a personal profit, he would be guilty of misconduct in public office and possibly other corruption charges.”

“Those who had knowingly and dishonestly aided him in the scheme would fall for consideration as conspirators.”

“It is entirely possible that a criminal investigation might reveal written evidence or other evidence to support a conspiracy, but on the basis of your letter it is difficult to see that there is sufficient material to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed.”

“Until such suspicion has been established, methods such as search warrants and production orders cannot be used.”

At that point, evidence of Roberts’ purchase of the land had not come to light.

However, the information that has since emerged — from the Standards Committee and the investigative work by Rebecca Television — appears to satisfy all the conditions in Gaffey’s letter.

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NORTH WALES Police has not covered itself in glory in its attempts to deal with corruption on the island.

In the 1990s a long criminal investigation was carried out into the activities of councillor Gareth Winston Roberts.

This Roberts is no relation to David Lewis Roberts.

The probe came to nothing.

Gareth Winston Roberts was awarded an OBE for his services to employment on the island.

Those awarding the gong appear to have been unaware that the councillor had stood by and watched as Amlwch businessman Bill Farrell was bankrupted by the council.

(The story of Gareth Winston Roberts’ career is told in the article Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE.)

In 1996 District Auditor Ceri Stradling carried out a detailed investigation into wrong-doing at the council.

By now, Gareth Winston Roberts was Leader.

Stradling produced two damning reports and found evidence of criminal activity in the council.

He called in the North Wales Police.

Stradling singled out the housing department, headed by director John Arthur Jones, for the most serious indictments.

Stradling criticised Jones for awarding contracts which were not good value for the people of Anglesey.

One of these contracts — for the investigation of housing fraud — was negotiated with the recently retired North Wales Police Superintendent Clive McGregor.

McGregor — who was later elected to the council and served briefly as Leader — has always insisted that everything he did was above-board.

The police investigation led to John Arthur Jones being prosecuted.

He was accused of using men to help build his house who he knew were in receipt of benefit from his own housing department.

He denied the charge.

The trial collapsed after witnesses admitted to talking to one another before they gave evidence.

Jones had been suspended as housing director and was later sacked.

It later emerged that Jones had gone on holiday with a North Wales Police detective while the investigation against him was taking place.

Detective Inspector Roy Gregson and his wife, a civilian police employee, had gone on holiday to Florida with Jones and his wife.

North Wales Police gave the officer “suitable advice” — one of the lightest forms of disciplinary action.

A spokesman added “we do regret, however, that the detective and the civilian employee acted so unwisely.”

John Arthur Jones became a councillor in 2004 and soon formed his own political party, the Radical Independents with four members.

In 2006 the party became the junior member of a new ruling coalition led by Gareth Winston Roberts.

Within months the administration was plunged into chaos when the Radical Independents spearheaded a surge in attempts to force through planning applications which were against the island’s structure plan.

These planning applications, if successful, turned small parcels of land worth a few thousand pounds into building plots worth over £100,000.

The most controversial of these schemes were the ones in Shepherds Hill.

They were strongly supported by David Lewis Roberts, a member of the Radical Independents.

He claimed that each of the Radical Independents were free agents.

“When we formulated the Radical Independents we had an agreement between the four of us — I’m sure the others would tell — that we’d do our own thing.”

The crisis came to an end in 2007 when the constitution was changed to prevent councillors from dealing with these applications.

As early as 2006 Barrie Durkin, who was a community councillor at the time, had sent a letter to every county councillor entitled “Nice Work If You Can Get It”.

BARRIE DURKIN  A county councillor between 2004 and 2008, Durkin branded David Lewis Roberts "corrupt" for more thsn seven years. Twice the Ombudsman found that he'd broken the authority's code of conduct but last year the Standards Committee decided he'd been right all along ...

BARRIE DURKIN
A county councillor between 2004 and 2008, Durkin called David Lewis Roberts “corrupt” for more than seven years. Twice the Ombudsman found that he’d broken the authority’s code of conduct but last year the Standards Committee decided he’d been right all along …

The letter accused Roberts of “failing to declare an interest and corrupting endless planning applications …”

Roberts complained about Durkin saying he was “outrageous, intolerable and psychotic”.

The then Ombudsman, Adam Peat, found the language Durkin used was a breach of the council’s code of conduct and referred him to the council’s Standards Committee.

In 2007 the committee “censured” Durkin for the language he had used.

Neither the Ombudsman nor the Standards Committee bothered to examine if there was actually any substance to Durkin’s claims.

The ruling did not stop Durkin calling Roberts “corrupt”.

So Roberts complained again in 2010.

The Ombudsman, by now Peter Tyndall, again declined to examine the deeper issues — and inevitably found that, in calling David Lewis Roberts “corrupt”, Durkin had once again breached the code of conduct.

“To suggest that a person is corrupt or the perpetrator of unlawful or criminal acts is a very serious allegation to make and one which I consider should not be made lightly.”

It was the Standards Committee meeting in August 2012 which finally broke the spell — and got to the heart of the matter.

“It seems to me,” says Rebecca Television editor Paddy French, “that the committee on this occasion showed itself a better investigator than either the Ombudsman or the North Wales Police.”

“Sadly, though, the committee’s good work was rendered meaningless by the decision not to call in the police.”

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IT IS not just in issues involving Anglesey County Council that North Wales Police has been found wanting.

There are also serious question marks about its role in the investigation of child abuse allegations.

Rebecca Television recently published an examination of a vicious paedophile ring operating on the North Wales coast.

The investigation comprised a video — Brothers in the Shadows — and an article The Missing Masonic Child Abuser.

The ring involved a retired detective who was also a freemason.

He was caught and gaoled — but the freemason he claimed invited him into the ring was never brought to book.

North Wales Police was devious in its dealings with Rebecca Television.

When we asked the force if it had sought the help of the brotherhood in its attempts to track down this missing abuser, a spokesman said it had.

But we had already asked the masons, both locally and in London, if the force had been in touch.

They said it hadn’t.

They confirmed that the police had been to see them only after we started asking questions.

In 2010 Rebecca Television editor Paddy French and a cameraman door-stepped the retired detective to ask him about the missing mason.

Afterwards the retired detective rang the police and said French was harassing him.

“This is nonsense,” said French, “I had written to him and he had not replied.”

“I called at his house and he wasn’t in. I got hold of his phone and talked to him — he wouldn’t be interviewed.”

“A couple of days later we caught up with him at a garage on the A55 — and he spoke to us.”

“This is perfectly standard broadcasting practice.”

Some months later North Wales Police sent French a caution.

“I find this offensive” says French.

“Here we have a North Wales Police officer taking the word of a convicted child abuser at face value.”

“The officer finds it justifiable to issue a caution without ever speaking to me.”

“It gives the impression that the force is more interested in protecting criminals than helping an investigative journalist bring a missing child abuser to book.”

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THIS IS not the first time the force has been caught out in its handling of freemasonry.

A classic example took place in 1995 when the then Chief Constable Michael Argent tried to insist there was no police lodge in the North Wales Police area.

As we revealed in the programme Brothers in the Shadows, local newspaper editor Mark Brittain raised the issue after he discovered the existence of a lodge called Custodes Pacis.

When Argent denied the existence of the lodge, Brittain sent him the entry for the lodge.

Argent then accepted that, yes, it did exist but that there were no serving officers in its ranks.

He was forced to retract that claim as well when Brittain proved there were.

Brittain nows wonders if this attempt to bury the existence of the lodge was connected to the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal which was set up in 1996.

One of the key issues before the Tribunal was the issue of masonic influence inside the force.

The existence of Cusdodes Pacis was kept from the Tribunal — despite the fact that its chief counsel Gerard Elias is a mason.

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THE MOST serious question mark against the force is its role in the failure to call a key witness before the Tribunal.

This was Des Frost, joint number two at the Bryn Alyn complex of privately-owned children’s homes in Wrexham.

(This story is told in the article Silent Witness.)

Bryn Alyn’s boss, John Allen, had been gaoled for six years in 1995 for abusing children in his care.

Frost had given an interview to HTV in which he claimed that he had gone to the police with allegations against Allen more than a decade before the paedophile was finally brought to book.

The Tribunal warned HTV it would be in contempt of the Tribunal if it broadcast any allegations from Frost.

The allegations were not reported.

But Frost was never called to give evidence before the Tribunal.

Ten days after Frost had been interviewed by HTV, he was visited by North Wales Police Detective Inspector Neil McAdam and a statement taken.

When Rebecca Television emailed McAdam in 2009 to ask about this interview, he acknowledged the letter but never answered the questions.

We complained to the force Professional Standards department and were eventually told McAdam had been instructed not to reply.

“It is reasonable that DI McAdam has sought advice and guidance from his line managers expecting that ownership to respond …  rest with someone higher within the organisation,” noted the investigation report.

Rebecca Television had already written to Chief Constable Mark Polin about the matter.

He never replied.

And there the matter would have rested had it not been for Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision, last autumn, to reopen the investigation into child abuse in North Wales.

Rebecca Television had made a statement about the Frost affair to the Macur Review which is conducting an examination to see if the Tribunal did its work properly.

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© Rebecca Television 2013

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

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THE END OF THE GANG OF FOUR

May 12, 2013

rebecca_6a
THE ANGLESEY council election on May 2 saw the end of an era.

The last member of the political group responsible for the planning crisis of 2005-2007 lost his seat.

The introduction of large multi-member wards saw the defeat of other controversial politicians.

But the reform failed to replace the dominance of the Independent group system with a more disciplined traditional party set-up.

The Independents have taken control and there are signs that the seeds have been sown for another crisis in the years ahead…

GANG OF FOUR  The defeat of Hefin Wyn Thomas and John Arthur Jones' failure to gain a seat in the May  2 election means an end to the power of the old Radical Independent group. In the 2008 election John Rowlands retired and David Lewis Roberts was defeated.

THE GANG OF FOUR
The defeat of Hefin Wyn Thomas (bottom left) and the failure of John Arthur Jones (top right) to gain a seat in the election means the end of the four-strong Radical Independent group. In the 2008 election John Rowlands (bottom right) retired and David Lewis Roberts (top left) was defeated.

WHEN THE count got under way at the Leisure Centre in Llangefni on May 3, the key question was — would the grip of the Independents on the island be broken?

The elections had been delayed for a year after the Welsh Government took control of the council in March 2011 to allow a programme of “democratic renewal” to take place.

The government hoped that the introduction of large multi-member wards would allow mainstream parties to take over from the Independents who were seen as the cause of the island’s instability.

In the Canolbarth Môn ward, which covers Llangefni, Plaid Cymru mounted a sustained campaign to take all three seats.

The strategy succeeded, taking more than half the votes.

In the process, the party’s three candidates kept out the controversial Independent, John Arthur Jones.

Jones is the disgraced former Director of Housing (1990-1998) and the leader of the Radical Independents who were the junior partners in the ruling coalition of 2005-2008.

He’s featured in several Rebecca Television reports, including The Gospel According to “Jesus” Arthur Jones and A Plague On All Their Houses.

Despite his chequered career, he came fourth with 915 votes, 11 per cent of the vote. This means that he remains a force to be reckoned with — and likely to stand for the council again in four years time.

His former Radical Independent partner, Hefin Wyn Thomas, didn’t fare so well.

He was standing in the new three-member Lligwy ward and could only manage 426 votes, coming 9th out of 12 candidates. His chances of making a comeback in the new order look slim.

His departure means that the last sitting member of John Arthur Jones’ four-strong Radical Independent group has disappeared.

The group was the junior partner in the administration led by veteran politician Gareth Winston Roberts, OBE between 2005 and 2008.

Roberts was the subject of the highly critical Rebecca Television article Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE. He did not stand in the elections.

Also defeated was the arch-enemy of the Gareth Winston Roberts – Radical Independents axis, Barrie Durkin, who came fifth in the Lligwy ward.

His decision to live off the island probably cost him many votes.

Plaid Cymru became the largest of the mainstream political parties with 12 seats.

Labour’s campaign was less visible and the party fared badly.

It won only three seats and lost one of its key figures — sitting councillor John Chorlton, who could only manage fifth place in the three-member Ynys Gybi ward.

Chorlton had been an independent member in the past and an ally of Gareth Winston Roberts and John Arthur Jones in the 2005-2008 administration.

Overall, however, the Independents proved more than a match for the new government-imposed electoral regime.

Even though they lost their leader Bryan Owen, the group still topped the poll with 14 members.

The Independents have now struck a deal with the three Labour members to form a new administration.

♦♦♦

THE FAILURE to break the power of the Independents is a major blow to the Cardiff government’s hopes of restoring good government on the island.

The Independents, of course, are not a naturally cohesive group and have shown a tendency in the past to fragment and form new alliances as ambitious  councillors jockey for supremacy.

In addition, the decision by the Executive in April to give councillors back their power to “call-in” controversial planning applications is another recipe for trouble.

The power had been removed in 2007 to bring an end to the planning crisis in which scores of applications were approved against officers’ recommendations.

What has tended to happen in the past is that slowly but surely the calling in of these planning applications — which can add between £100,000 and £150,000  to the value of a plot — become more common and more blatant.

This is what led to the crisis of 2005-2007 which itself followed an earlier scandal in the early 1990s.

In the process, ordinary people — like Bill Farrell, the victim in the 1990s crisis (see Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE) — are ruined.

There is no reason to believe this won’t happen again.

The lesson of the past seems to be that, no matter how outrageous a councillor’s actions are, the chances of him being brought to book are virtually nil.

Take the case of former councillor David Lewis Roberts, the Radical Independent member who lost his seat in 2008.

Last year the council’s own Standards Committee decided he had been corrupt in his attempts to pervert the planning system in 2006-7 (see The Case of the Corrupt Councillor).

But the committee, inexplicably, decided not to call in the police to investigate.

Our attempt to persuade North Wales Police to mount a criminal investigation of David Lewis Roberts continues.

The force is sifting through documents supplied by the council and has yet to come to a decision.

With the government in Cardiff, the council, the Ombudsman — and,  so far, the police — seemingly unable or unwilling to tackle the root causes of the problem, the chances are that Anglesey will, after a period of peace, soon be back in the limelight…

♦♦♦

FORMER LEADER Clive McGregor has written to us about the article The Gospel According to “Jesus” Arthur Jones which was published on April 26.

That article featured the 1997 report by the District Auditor which criticised John Arthur Jones — then the council’s Housing Director — for awarding a contract to a firm of private investigators in which McGregor was a partner.

At the time McGregor had just retired as the North Wales Police superintendent in charge of Anglesey.

McGregor insists that no contract to investigate housing benefit fraud was ever signed and that he was disappointed that the District Auditor had not spoken to him or his partner.

“Had he spoken to us, he might well have had a stronger case against John Arthur Jones,” he says.

JOHN ARTHUR JONES  A profound sense of infallibility ...

JOHN ARTHUR JONES
The former housing director and councillor has always insisted he’s never done anything wrong. He says that the District Auditor’s reports which led to his sacking in the 1990s were “unfair” and “irrational”. He has branded other criticism of his actions as “false” or “misleading”.

McGregor says that in May 1997 John Arthur Jones had rung him at home and offered him a job as a Benefit Fraud investigator.

McGregor refused because he was about to set up his own firm, Môn Investigations.

He told Jones that the firm might be interested in bidding for the work if the council advertised for tenders.

“The next contact that I received from John Arthur Jones was about a month later in early July in which he said that he was keen to appoint our partnership and as Director he did not need to go to tender if the contract value was below £3000.”

“With those assurances I agreed that we would undertake some work for the Council within the delegated sum at the rate of £20.00 per hour. John Arthur Jones confirmed these arrangements in writing.”

“I was unaware that he was under investigation by the Fraud Squad otherwise I would not have touched him with a barge pole.”

McGregor says that he considers John Arthur Jones and Gareth Winston Roberts as the main architects of Anglesey’s troubles: “the ills of the Council are directly attributable to these two characters [as is] the total lack of governance within both the [pre-1996] Anglesey Borough Council and the Isle of Anglesey County Council for almost three decades.”

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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.

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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COMING UP

POACHER TURNED gamekeeper Rhodri Williams is the Welsh Director of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. In the article — A Man Of Conviction  Rebecca Television will chart the story of his rise to power and his dramatic departure from the television company he helped to found. In the television programme — Hidden Agenda — his former partner Ron Jones tells the story of the dramatic days leading up to Williams’ dismissal. 


A PLAGUE ON ALL THEIR HOUSES

May 1, 2013

rebecca_6aTWO OF the candidates in tomorrow’s Anglesey elections are staunch supporters of affordable homes for local people.

John Arthur Jones and Hefin Wyn Thomas both include a commitment to affordable homes in their election manifestos.

But their idea of “affordable” isn’t always exactly the same as the voters.

For example, both men made sure their own homes were made more “affordable” by valuable planning permissions ordinary residents would have struggled to get.

And their role in some applications to build “affordable” homes has been controversial.

In one case, Hefin Wyn Thomas argued that planning permission should be given to a local woman so she could afford to build a home on the island.

It turned out she already owned a house in Cardiff and later sold the Anglesey site for a massive profit.

In another case John Arthur Jones was the island’s housing director when his department cheated a man out of a plot so that a housing official could have it instead.

ANGLESEY Some residents find it easier to get "affordable" homes than others. Picture: Barry Davies

ANGLESEY
Some residents find it easier to get “affordable” homes than others. Picture: Barry Davies

IN 2005 Hefin Wyn Thomas spoke up for a planning application for a new house on a field at Llanddona in the east of the island.

The field was called Cae Bryntirion and it enjoyed stunning views of the sea.

Planners were opposed to the proposal because the Local Structure Plan did not include the village as a place where development would normally be allowed.

Hefin Wyn Thomas, the Executive portfolio holder for planning, did not agree.

He said that the field was owned by a local woman whose family had lived in the area for 70 years.

He told the planning committee: “On completion of her studies and embarking on a career she wishes to relocate to the area with her husband.”

“The nature of their work means that they are able to work from home”.

He said that the committee should approve the application due to “local need”.

By the time of the May 2005 planning committee, Hefin Wyn Thomas had joined a new political group, the Radical Independents, led by John Arthur Jones.

The two men supported the application as did a third member, David Lewis Roberts.

The application was approved.

But the couple who owned the site, Elwen Rowlands and her husband, didn’t need a house — they already had one.

Two years earlier they had bought a property in Merches Gardens in the Grangetown area of Cardiff for £108,000.

Rowlands was in her early thirties and working as a script editor on the first season of the revived BBC Doctor Who series.

And she’s no ordinary Anglesey girl.

Her father was councillor John Rowlands who had just become the fourth member of John Arthur Jones’ Radical Independents.

Rowlands declared an interest in his daughter’s planning application and took no part in the proceedings.

For months the planning application attracted little attention.

But when David Lewis Roberts began his campaign to drive through similar applications in another part of the island — see The Case of the Corrupt Councillor — it began to be scrutinised.

It turned out that Elwen Rowlands’ application was just the tip of the iceberg.

In the two years up to June 2006, Hefin Wyn Thomas had been instrumental in gaining approval for another eight applications which planners had opposed.

The total value of these permissions was more than a million pounds.

In July 2008 Elwen Rowlands sold the plot — worth just a few thousand pounds without the planning permission — for £150,000.

A FIELD OF GOLD The field in the foreground was worth a couple of thousand pounds an acre. With planning permission it was worth £150,000.

A FIELD OF GOLD
The field in the foreground was worth a couple of thousand pounds an acre as agricultural land. With planning permission it was worth £150,000.

She has always insisted that her planning permission “was granted on the basis of a properly submitted and properly considered application. Any suggestion otherwise is incorrect.”

She claimed that she had been driven out of the area by sustained criticism by the whistleblower Barrie Durkin.

“It had always been my intention to move back to Anglesey to make a home with my husband.”

“However, as a result of the concerted campaign against me and my family I decided I could no longer live happily in the community and this was also the reason why I decided to sell the plot …”

♦♦♦

IT WASN’T the first time that Hefin Wyn Thomas had been involved in planning controversies.

He was suspended for two months in 2002 for failing to declare an interest in a planning application.

In 2006 he was investigated by the Ombudsman, Adam Peat.

Thomas had supported a proposal to build an estate of private houses on a field in the village of Pentraeth owned by a millionaire property developer called John Wood.

Thomas had commercial and social links with the developer.

Three years earlier, Thomas had declared an interest in another of Wood’s schemes.

But he did not declare an interest in the Pentraeth scheme.

The Ombudsman was not impressed:

“I conclude on the balance of probabilities that Councillor Thomas’ strong support for the inclusion of the developer’s land at Pentraeth … in the teeth of overwhelming local opposition was actuated by the prospect of pecuniary gain …”

He referred the matter to the Adjudication Panel for Wales.

But there was a dramatic development when the Panel met to hear the case in June 2007.

John Wood said that by the time he was promoting the Pentraeth scheme, he’d fallen out with Thomas.

Thomas had been renovating one of his properties and Wood felt that the work was sub-standard. He ordered him off the site.

“I couldn’t stand the sight of him,” he told the Panel.

HFIN WYN THOMAS In 2005 he was picking up £25,000 a year as a councillor and a member of the executive.

HFIN WYN THOMAS
In 2005 he was picking up £25,000 a year as a councillor and a member of the Executive.

The Panel decided that, while Thomas had technically broken the rules, there was no friendship between the two men.

The Panel found that he was in partial breach of the council’s code of conduct but decided not to impose any sanction.

Hefin Wyn Thomas lives in house on a farm just outside Pentraeth.

The property was built as an agricultural dwelling after he became a councillor in 1995.

He had bought the farm and wanted the new dwelling because he wanted to introduce a milking herd.

He was given permission but the milking herd never materialised.

Instead he became a builder.

In the early 2000s he had a close commercial relationship with John Arthur Jones and his company Best Value.

Best Value specialised in renovation grants and planning applications.

From 2001 until John Arthur Jones resigned from the company on his election to the council in 2004, Best Value won 85 renovation contracts from the council worth nearly £2m.

Hefin Wyn Thomas’ company did the work on 12 of those contracts, worth over £250,000.

But the firm did not prosper. In the autumn of 2005 Cefni (Pentraeth) Limited went bust owing the government over £100,00 in unpaid tax and VAT.

In April 2011 Thomas was convicted of benefit fraud.

He had been claiming incapacity benefit while he was receiving allowances as a councillor.

He was fined £750 and ordered to repay £7,700.

In June last year the council’s Standards Committee decided that this offence was also a serious breach of the council’s code of conduct.

Thomas claimed that he did not know that council allowances were income.

The excuse cut no ice with the committee because Thomas had been paying tax on his allowances.

He was suspended for six months.

♦♦♦

LONG BEFORE these events took place, John Arthur Jones had made sure he had an “affordable” home.

In the 1980s he bought a piece of agricultural land on a hill overlooking the village of Bodffordd.

It includes a low hill with a magnificent view of the island and Snowdonia.

In 1987 Jones applied for planning permission to build a bungalow on the site.

He wrote to the director of planning to say that “for 10 years I have been looking for a suitable site on which to develop a fish farm”.

This particular site was perfect for the operation. There was just one snag — security.

Jones wrote ” … the best possible deterrent is to live on the site and be in a position to see the ponds by day and which can be lit up at night.”

Planners were opposed. The application was in “conflict with the approved Anglesey Structure Plan Policies”.

But approval was given by other officers using delegated powers.

By 1990, by which time Jones had been appointed Housing Director, the permission to build the bungalow had sprouted dormer windows.

He did not start construction work on the house —  known as Nant Garedig — until the mid 1990s.

Rebecca Television has examined council records to see if this property ever came before a committee of the authority. There was no evidence it ever did so.

The fish farm never materialised.

At present day values, the planning permission was worth between £125,000 and £150,000.

John Arthur Jones was also the Housing Director when perhaps the most celebrated “affordable” home on Anglesey was built.

Even by Anglesey standards, the story of the hanky-panky that took place at a site in a street called Nant Y Pandy takes some believing…

NO 5 NANT Y PANDY A house with a chequered history.

NO 5, NANT Y PANDY
A house with a chequered history.

THE HOUSE in the picture is No 5, Nant y Pandy in Llangefni. 

Even before a brick was laid, the site in the centre of the island was the subject of skulduggery.

In 1993 the site was one of five offered by council to people who wanted to build their own home.

One local man, whose identity has never been revealed, applied for one of the sites.

There was a meeting between the prospective purchasers and the housing director John Arthur Jones and his director of contract services, Gareth Roberts.

According to District Auditor Ceri Stradling, who investigated what happened, a local man drew Plot 5 “following a random draw of names from a hat.”

Number 5 was the plum site: not only was it the largest it was also the furthest away from the nearby council estate.

But the man who’d drawn Plot 5 found that the process of completing the purchase was the subject of delay after delay.

By April 1994, he’d had enough and wrote to the council withdrawing his application.

The next day, a technical officer in the housing department called Paul Roberts, wrote to the director of contract services Gareth Roberts. The two men are not related.

Paul Roberts had been allocated Plot 1, next door to the council estate.

He asked Gareth Roberts to allow him to switch his plot from Number 1 to Number 5.

The next day Gareth Roberts replied “… I have transferred your allocation of plot no 1 to plot No 5 Nant y Pandy, Llangefni, and hope that you can now proceed with the purchase of plot 5 as soon as possible.”

Neither of the two Roberts could explain to District Auditor Ceri Stradling “why there had been delays with the purchase of the two relevant plots.”

“Both Mr Paul Roberts and Mr Gareth Roberts were unsympathetic to the concerns expressed by the person who brought the matter to our attention,” noted Stradling.

“I believe Mr Paul Roberts benefited personally from information obtained from his position within the Department, by obtaining a larger and more sought-after plot that ultimately may have a higher market value on re-sale.”

Not satisfied with having used his position in John Arthur Jones’ housing department to grab the site, Paul Roberts then went on to “persuade” several contractors to help him build his house.

Take the “contribution” made by a business called Ponsonby Joinery.

Between 1994 and 1998 the firm were awarded £38,000 work by the council, much of it ordered and approved by Paul Roberts.

The district auditor noted: “During our enquiries we were informed that all the hardwood windows and the staircase of Mr Paul Roberts’ home … had been supplied by Ponsonby Joinery in the autumn of 1994 to the value of several thousand pounds.”

“Our investigations revealed that Mr Roberts has paid a partial instalment of £1,700 for these goods, which he has subsequently confirmed. He did however say that he always intended to settle the remainder of the debt.”

“In my view it is unusual that any supplier in normal circumstances would wait nearly four years for an account to be settled.”

Then there was a builder who also did a considerable amount of work for the council.

Some of this was ordered by Paul Roberts and he was the man who checked the work for payment.

The contractor told the auditor that he knew Paul Roberts well.

“He said he had done some plastering work on Mr Roberts house … in the late autumn of 1994 at an approximate cost of some £2,000.

He said that Mr Roberts made no effort to pay him for the work.”

The District Auditor said that “At that time [the contractor] relied upon the Council for a substantial proportion of his income and was given the impression that if he pursued Mr Roberts to settle his debt he would receive fewer orders for the work.”

And finally there was Cefni Glass, a company owned by a man called Ken Jones, who was a close friend of Paul Roberts.

The auditor noted that “Mr Ken Jones and his employees carried out work on Mr Paul Roberts’ own house when it was being constructed. Mr Paul Roberts has admitted to us that this was done without monetary payment.”

JOHN ARTHUR JONES He was the council's housing director in the 1990s when its operations were criticised by the District Auditor.

JOHN ARTHUR JONES
He was the director of the council’s housing department in the 1990s when its operations were criticised by the District Auditor.

“Mr Roberts does not accept that in accepting this favour he has placed himself in a compromising position.”

In the four years up to 1998 Cefni Glass were given council work worth £171,000.

The company was a “favoured” contractor and the District Auditor found that the council’s Standing Orders were often ignored when work was awarded.

For most of this period Cefni Glass were supervised by Paul Roberts: he raised orders from the firm and checked their work.

During the period when the company’s work for the council was at its height, Paul Roberts was working an enormous amount of overtime.

It was at the time of local government reorganisation.

In one nine month period in 1996 he clocked up 770 hours in overtime worth £10,764.

When the district auditor started investigating, Paul Roberts decided it was time to settle some of his long-standing bills.

He went to see the man who had done the plastering work on his house.

The auditor reported that “Mr Roberts turned up unannounced in May 1997 and paid him £1,000 in cash.

He said the event had stuck in his mind since at the time the press was reporting the Police investigation of the Director of Housing and Property [John Arthur Jones].”

“He said that Mr Roberts had brought a further £600 in cash on the day following … He substantiated these comment by reference to his paying in records.”

Paul Roberts was not a senior official but he had responsibility for some important assets belonging to the council.

One of these was the former Shell terminal at Rhosgoch.

The District Auditor found Roberts did not take his duties as seriously as he should have done.

Two large transformers, worth £4,000 on the second-hand market, went missing.

It was Roberts who had commissioned the specialist valuation of these and other assets at the site.

“He was unable to account for the whereabouts of these transformers and expressed surprise that they were no longer there,” reported the District Auditor.

He added: “I have been able to ascertain that no insurance claim or report to the Police has been submitted in respect of these large transformers.”

Another valuable asset was the huge amount of hard-core on which the terminal was built.

John Arthur Jones placed an ad in the local paper and one of those who successfully tendered was the builder O J D Griffiths, who was carrying out work at Paul Roberts’ home.

In October 1996 John Arthur Jones drafted a letter warning the contractor that he had “carried a large quantity of stone” from the site “in direct contravention of the prohibition” not to enter the site without permission.

“Before I refer the matter to the Police for further investigation,” he continued, “I invite you to respond to these allegations.”

O J D Griffiths never got the chance to reply because the letter was never sent.

Paul Roberts noted: “John Arthur Jones … said letter not to go – speak to the contractor instead.”

“I am particularly concerned,” District Auditor Ceri Stradling wrote in his report, “to discover that during this period Mr O J D Griffiths was undertaking work on the home of Mr P Roberts … and later in the year sold and delivered hardcore from the [Rhosgoch] site to the Director of Housing and Property [John Arthur Jones] which was in the process of being constructed.”

“The apparent lenient approach taken by these officers towards this contractor represents, in my view, extremely poor judgement, particularly in the light of their personal contractual relationship with the contractor.”

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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.

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

COMING UP

POACHER TURNED gamekeeper Rhodri Williams is the Welsh Director of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. In the article — A Man Of Conviction — Rebecca Television charts the story of his rise to power and his dramatic departure from the television company he helped to found. In the television programme — Hidden Agenda — his former partner Ron Jones tells the story of the dramatic days leading up to Williams’ dismissal. 


THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO “JESUS” ARTHUR JONES

April 26, 2013

rebecca_6a
JOHN ARTHUR Jones is a politician with a supreme confidence in his own righteousness.

He compared himself to Jesus Christ facing crucifixion at the hands of the Pharisees when he was subjected to damning criticism as a senior council official in the 1990s.

In 2006 he claimed he was more important than Tony Blair.

In the same year he smeared a television reporter by asking him if he was a paedophile.

Jones is also responsible for an extraordinary document that has never seen the light of day.

This “gospel” is one of the most searing indictments ever written about a British local authority.

JOHN ARTHUR JONES. A profound sense of infallibility ...

JOHN ARTHUR JONES.
One of the key figures in local government on Anglesey, John Arthur Jones is a candidate in next Thursday’s council elections. He was the authority’s Housing Director from 1990 until he was sacked in 1998. He was elected to the council in 2004 and went on to form his own political group which was one of the driving forces behind a major planning scandal. He lost his seat in the 2008 elections.

IN OCTOBER 1998 John Arthur Jones gave an interview to the current affairs programme Wales This Week.

He had just been sacked as Anglesey County Council’s Housing Director by a hastily convened council committee because the authority had lost confidence in him.

Jones told the programme:

“A man stood in front of Pilate two thousand years ago and Pilate said I can see nothing wrong in this man. But at that time the Pharisees said crucify him.”

“Now then, the descendants of those Pharisees are living today on Anglesey – they’re saying crucify him.” 

Jones had been suspended since September 1997 after he was arrested by the North Wales Police.

Police had investigated the construction of his new house just outside the village of Bodffordd near Llangefni in the centre of the island.

It was alleged that he had employed men who were receiving housing benefit from the council — at a time when his own housing department was mounting an operation to prevent housing benefit fraud.

He was charged with misuse of public office, intimidating witnesses and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The case later collapsed after prosecution witnesses admitted discussing their evidence during the trial.

By the time Jones was sacked, District Auditor Ceri Stradling had produced two damning reports about the housing department.

In one report, he noted that some of the hardcore used on Jones’ new house had come from the former Shell oil terminal at Rhosgoch.

When the terminal had been taken over by the council in 1990, some 15,000 tonnes of hardcore were left on the site.

After much of the hardcore disappeared, John Arthur Jones placed an ad in the local paper calling for tenders for what he called the remaining “random rubble”.

One of the tenders — for 200 tonnes at 50 pence a tonne — came from John Arthur Jones himself.

The Housing Department did not send its Director a bill until two and a half years later.

Jones said he had asked for an invoice on three separate occasions.

The District Auditor noted that this invoice was finally raised “during the period when the Director was being investigated by the police”.

He was also concerned about three contracts which John Arthur Jones had awarded without going through the council’s tendering procedures.

The first concerned a company called NURAS which was awarded a contract to manage an Urban Renewal Area scheme in the port of Holyhead.

Between 1991 and 1997 the company invoiced for £1.8 million but never once had to tender for the work.

John Arthur Jones also awarded a second contract for £30,000 to a company called Frankie Ltd without putting the work out to tender.

The work was to produce the specification for a housing management system.  The council’s chief internal auditor said “I do not consider that the council has received value for money …”

The third contract was to outsource part of the council’s crackdown on housing benefit fraud to a firm of private detectives.

The council’s benefit fraud department had been awarded public funding to employ a second benefit fraud investigator.

But in August 1997 John Arthur Jones awarded the work to a firm called Môn Investigations without bringing the matter before the housing committee.

DSC_0995

NANT GAREDIG
The controversial house John Arthur Jones built at Bodffordd. He was accused of using men receiving benefit from his own housing department to help build it. The current owners of the property have no connection with Jones.

One of the directors of Môn Investigations was Clive McGregor, the recently retired North Wales Police superintendent who had been the island’s senior police officer.

The negotiations between Jones and McGregor took place after the North Wales Police Fraud Squad had arrived at the council offices to search the housing department.

After the District Auditor investigated, Môn Investigations surrendered the contract.

One of John Arthur Jones friends was Detective Inspector Roy Gregson.

In April 1998 it was revealed that Gregson and his wife, a civilian employee with the North Wales Police, had gone on holiday to Florida with Jones and his wife.

At the time, Jones was facing criminal charges.

The press reports, which did not name Gregson, said that the force had given the detective suitable advice — the mildest form of disciplinary action.

A spokesman for North Wales Police added “we do regret, however, that the detective and the civilian employee acted so unwisely.”

After John Arthur Jones was suspended, the council set up a committee to investigate his activities.

Its work was cut short when a special staff sub-committee was convened which sacked him without compensation.

It was this decision that led to Jones’ comparing his treatment with that of Jesus.

Jones brought a claim for unfair dismissal but the case was settled. He was paid just under £44,000.

John Arthur Jones also tried to get the courts to overturn Stradling’s reports.

His application for a “judicial review” to have the District Auditor’s reports overturned on the grounds that they were “unfair” and “irrational” was heard at the High Court in London in February 1999.

Mr Justice Collins said “I am far from persuaded that there has, in the circumstances of this case, been any unfairness and I am still less persuaded that there has been any irrationality in the conclusions reached by the District Auditor.”

He rejected the application.

♦♦♦

SEVEN YEARS ago John Arthur Jones was responsible for a memorable piece of television.

One morning in April 2006 a reporter and a cameraman from the ITV Wales This Week programme were in the carpark of his Parc Cefni complex at Bodffordd.

They were filming controversial chalets on the site.John Arthur Jones, the vice-chairman of the planning committee, had made front page headlines a few weeks earlier when his own planning department told him he’d broken the conditions attached to his planning permission to build 22 holiday chalets.

Wales This Week had rung the councillor to ask for a filmed interview to hear his views on the controversy.

Jones offered to do a live interview “so that no one could manipulate or otherwise edit my words.”

He was told this was not possible — Wales This Week is a pre-recorded programme.

“You replied that not even the Prime Minister gets that treatment,” noted Jones. “I said that I was better than him”.

As the filming took place, an angry John Arthur Jones came out of his bungalow on the site.

The following exchange took place.

[In the original version of this article, a clip of the doorstep was included. However, in September 2013, the broadcaster ITV insisted on its removal.)

This is what it looks like on paper:

Reporter
How do you feel about these charges that you are breaking the rules and setting a bad example?

John Arthur Jones
Is it true that you’re a paedophile? I’ve heard that you’re a paedophile.

Reporter
How do you respond to these accusations?

John Arthur Jones
Is that true? Are you a paedophile?

Reporter
How do you respond to these accusations?

John Arthur Jones
Are you a paedophile?

Reporter
How do you respond to the charge that you’re bringing the council into disrepute?

John Arthur Jones
Are you a paedophile?

The reporter was Paddy French, now Editor of Rebecca Television.

“It’s not every day you get accused of being a child abuser,” French said, “but in these circumstances a television journalist has to stand his ground and ask the questions he believes the viewers want answered.”

“I thought that John Arthur Jones was trying to sabotage the confrontation. He was trying to be so offensive that Wales This Week wouldn’t dare show the exchange.”

He was wrong —  the clip was shown in the programme.

And it was to be repeated in five other editions of Wales This Week in the years that followed.

The doorstep became notorious.

“I was told that John Arthur Jones was shopping in a superstore in Llangefni when a woman came up to him and kept asking him if he was a paedophile, over and over again,” French recalls.

“In the end, so the story goes, he abandoned his trolley and walked out of the premises.”

“It’s probably an urban myth — but it shows the exchange provoked a lot of comment on the island.”

“Jones never apologised for the smear.”

One of Jones’ political opponents complained to the Welsh Ombudsman about the accusation.

The Ombudsman, Adam Peat, reported in December 2006.

He said “the words used by Councillor Jones were, in my view, offensive and the exchange may very well have resulted in residents of Anglesey feeling embarrassed by it.”

But because Jones had declined to be interviewed and the TV crew were on his land uninvited, he concluded he was acting in his capacity as a private person and his conduct had nothing to do with his role as a councillor.

The alleged breaches of the planning conditions at the Parc Cefni chalet park were eventually settled to the satisfaction of both the council and John Arthur Jones.

Jones had bought the five acre site, a former Welsh Water depot, for £241,000 in September 2003.

The previous month he sold Nant Garedig, the controversial house he’d built on the hill overlooking the Welsh Water depot, for £365,000.

He wanted permission to build 22 Canadian-style wooden chalets.

The council was happy to give him that permission but insisted on conditions, the most important of which was that the park be managed as a single business.

This meant that Jones could not sell individual plots.

He has always maintained that this condition was unlawful and, last year, a National Assembly planning inspector agreed and ordered the council to remove the condition.

Jones has always insisted that those people who criticised his plans  ” … have a personal agenda based on malice and jealousy”.

Parc Cefni had previously been investigated by the council’s external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In September 2007 the firm produced a report which cleared Jones of any misconduct at the site.

Jones told the local paper: ” I’m extremely happy. As I’ve said all along I’ve kept to the rules and legislation and it’s a shame that people listen to those falsehoods and lies which were motivated by malice and jealousy.”

However, PricewaterhouseCoopers also produced a second report on the affair which the council did not release.

It was five months before a copy of this report surfaced.

It confirmed that Jones had broken no rules but noted “there is significant perception that member conduct has not been to the highest levels that might be expected.”

“It is our perception that alleged breaches of the planning conditions imposed upon the applicant’s permission reflect badly upon his reputation, and that of the planning committee and the council.”

♦♦♦ 

IN 2004 John Arthur Jones made a dramatic statement about the way Anglesey County Council operated when he was the council’s Housing Director in the 1990s.

He declared that ” … my view of the treatment of members of the general public by the Chief Executive and the Directors of Anglesey Borough / Anglesey County Council was poor.”

“It was not uncommon to hear names crop up on a number of occasions and people make decisions based upon political gain to stonewall applications or to be downright obstructive when it came to planning permission.”

Jones had been asked to make the statement by Amlwch caravan owner Gordon Pritchard who had been fighting the council for more than 25 years.

Pritchard had taken over his father’s caravan park at Amlwch Port in 1979 but when he asked the council to transfer the licence to operate the site to him, the council refused.

GORDON PRITCHARD Another of the Anglesey residents ruined by the council for reasons which did not stand up to scrutiny.

GORDON PRITCHARD
Another of the Anglesey residents ruined by the council for reasons which did not stand up to scrutiny.

The council claimed the original planning permission was not valid and said they had issued an enforcement notice for its closure.

Pritchard was forced to close the site.

Later, the authority was admitted that no enforcement notice had ever been issued.

In 2000 a government planning inspector decided that there was nothing wrong with the original permission.

But when Pritchard asked the council to issue the licence, it still refused.

He sued the council arguing that council officials had been malicious towards him.

In 2004 — six years after he had been sacked as Housing Director — John Arthur Jones agreed to make a statement on Pritchard’s behalf.

The statement, based on an interview he gave to a solicitor from the Manchester firm of Harold Stock & Co, discusses the inner workings of the council’s hierarchy when he was one of its senior officials between 1990 and 1998.

Jones said that “I sat in on all top-level management meetings which usually took place once a week at the Chief Executive’s office.”

This small group of officers also included the directors of planning, finance, technical services, the finance chief, social services, education, legal and personnel.

“There would be discussions between all the Directors and a consensus approach would be taken.”

“However, the Chief Executive was a political animal and his decisions could therefore be swayed by people if it assisted the political agenda at the time.”

At the time the Chief Executive was Leon Gibson. He was sacked in 1998 after he was caught lying on television.

Jones says that “other people were pulling his strings and influencing his decisions.”

This was especially true in  planning.

“If it was politically suitable to allow planning permission for certain members of the county council then permission would be granted.”

“If however it was not suitable or alternatively somebody had indicated that they wanted a particular applicant to fail in their request for planning permission then, providing it was politically suitable to do so, these people would find their application rejected for almost any reason.”

“It was not uncommon for people to be treated differently when making the same request dependent upon who they were.”

This analysis is a remarkably accurate reflection of what happened to Amlwch haulage contractor Bill Farrell in the early 1990s at the hands of councillor Gareth Winston Roberts and his friends — see the article Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE.

STATEMENT The front page of the five page statement John Arthur Jones made in 2004. There's a mistake in this version — it says it's the statement of Gordon Pritchard when it's actually John Arthur Jones'.


The front page of the statement John Arthur Jones made in 2004. There are mistakes — it says it’s the witness statement of Gordon Pritchard when it’s actually John Arthur Jones’ and Jones did not become Housing Director until 1990.

“The general view from the planning department was that if we refuse planning permission people would not challenge it and if they did then it would take quite a while for them to get through the Appeals process by which time they would have spent too much money and decided against pursuing it any further or would simply be frustrated by the whole situation and decide not to carry on.”

Gordon Pritchard believes this is what happened to him.

Jones added: “I confirm that the committee would do as they pleased. They would look for any reason to refuse permission or drag matters on.”

“It was not uncommon for a councillor to approach the chief executive and state that he would wish a particular applicant to be refused planning permission.”

“The chief executive would sway matters for certain councillors.”

Jones then gives the names of five of these councillors. The name Gareth Winston Roberts, OBE is not mentioned.

Jones says of these five councillors: “each have their own agendas and tell their applicants from their particular constituencies one thing but in reality be doing something quite different behind the scenes.”

“I have no doubt that Mr Pritchard’s applications met with the same treatment. Decisions were made on a subjective basis and not following standard policy. They were usually made for the individuals’ own benefit.”

“If a planning officer decides that planning has been refused then the matter does not go to a committee. The officer is not accountable if the matter is referred to an Appeal and if at the end of the day an injustice has been done the planning officer was never accountable and therefore the taxpayer would pick up the bill.”

“Once again I confirm that I cannot be specific about the treatment of the Pritchards by the local authority but can confirm that permissions were rejected on an ad hoc basis without following any precedent because of the subjective nature of the chief executive’s office when it came to granting or refusing permission.”

Jones made the statement in 2004. By the time it was sent for his signature, he had been elected to the council in June 2004. He did not sign it.

Nevertheless, Rebecca Television is convinced that the statement is genuine and that John Arthur Jones is telling the gospel truth.

Jones’ failure to sign his statement weakened Pritchard’s case against the council. The judge ruled that the council had acted in good faith.

Pritchard was saddled with a massive legal bill. He sold the site in 2003 for £250,000 to a caravan operator from the North Wales coast.

Most of his share went on legal bills.

Shortly after the sale, the council granted the new owners a site licence.

With the site licence, the value of the park jumped to more than a million pounds.

“My family lost more than £3 million in earnings in the years when the caravan park was shut and now we found that we had been cheated of another three-quarters of a million pounds.”

“Something has gone badly wrong here — and nobody seems to want to do anything to put it right.”

The only council officer still in post from the period covered by Jones’ statement is Arthur Owen.

He’s the current Director of Sustainable Development.

Yesterday we asked him to comment on the allegations made by John Arthur Jones.

There was no reply by the time this article was published.

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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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COMING UP

In the next article — A Plague On All Their Houses Rebecca Television charts the way planning permissions for new houses has blighted political life on Anglesey. John Arthur Jones is campaigning for more affordable homes on the island. We look at one extraordinary case when he was Housing Director where a member of the public was cheated out of a prime site to build his own home. The plot was diverted to a member of Jones’ staff — who then went on to get much of the house built for nothing by contractors who depended on the authority for their work…


DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDREL, OBE

April 15, 2013

rebecca_6a ONE OF Anglesey’s big political beasts steps down next month after more than two decades of political influence on the island.

On paper Gareth Winston Roberts’ record looks impressive. He was twice Leader of the county council — from 2005 to 2008 and, earlier, from 1996 to 1998. He was awarded the OBE in 1998 for services to employment on the island.

But he’s been the subject of a police investigation into allegations of misconduct. He was forced to resign in 1998 after a government watchdog damned his administration and a high-profile planning scandal ended with the defeat of his ruling coalition in the 2008 elections.

The story of the millionaire councillor’s rise to power and wealth has never been fully told.

It makes shameful reading …

GARETH WINSTON ROBERTS, OBEA powerful figure who made a fortune using his grip on the county council.

GARETH WINSTON ROBERTS, OBE
Awarded an OBE in 1998, he was not able to collect it until 2002. A series of police investigations into his conduct during the late 1990s delayed the ceremony.

THE FOUNDATIONS of Gareth Winston Roberts’ million pound property empire were laid in a series of breath-taking deals in the early 1990s.

He and his political allies drove a coach and horses through the planning system to lay the groundwork of his prosperity.

His family now own at least eight properties in the old Anglesey seaport of Amlwch which he and his friends control.

In the process a man’s life was brutally destroyed.

The failure of the entire political system in Wales to stop the tragedy left Roberts and his cronies with a sense of invincibility that still casts a long shadow over island politics.

Roberts, who started his working life at the Wylfa nuclear power-station, had been a councillor ever since the 1970s.

Throughout the 1980s his influence was growing and by the end of the decade he was ready to strike.

The first act of the drama began in September 1990 when he applied for planning permission to build a house and stables on a plot of agricultural land he’d bought in the village of Burwen just outside Amlwch.

It was his turn to reap one of the key rewards of politics on the island — a valuable planning permission. A previous attempt to build on the land, in 1973, had failed.

The plot was close to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and was not included in the island’s structure plan of places where new building was allowed.

It was therefore a “departure” application.

Planners noted that the application did not conform to the council’s structure plan and that there were 74 houses for sale in the area.  “Recommendation should be refusal regardless of any local need,” was the conclusion.

A television report also noted that there were 56 plots in the area with planning permission which were up for sale.

Roberts argued that his application should be allowed because, as a local councillor, he needed to live in the ward he represented.

Some local residents objected strongly.

One wrote to the planners claiming that the application “is causing considerable criticism and is widely talked about, especially as it is against the Structure Plan and also the wishes of the Planning Officers who gave very valid reasons that consent should not be given.”

“Not only is Councillor Winston Roberts not a resident of Amlwch, he is on the register in his own home in Clynnog [Caernarfon] area … Furthermore, if Councillor Roberts is so keen to live in Amlwch, there are plenty of empty properties available and he may even own some.”

♦♦♦

FOR THIS article — and more than two decades after he applied for the planning permission — Rebecca Television checked these allegations.

The current county council couldn’t find Gareth Winston Roberts’ declarations of interest for the period when he was a borough councillor in the early 1990s.

Even so, we discovered that he and his wife bought a property called Pen Y Bryn at Clynnog on the main road from Caernarfon to Porthmadog in 1982.

They were listed there on the electoral registers for 1989, 1990 and 1991.

Roberts also owned another property on the Welsh mainland.

We discovered that he also owned property in Amlwch. In  September 1989, a year before he applied for planning permission for the Burwen, he and his wife bought a flat in the centre of Amlwch.

The planning application for his new home was approved. The committee gave as its reason the fact “that the applicant is not seeking to sell but the right to build a house for himself and his family” and he is “living in a rented house … at the moment.”

DSC_1036

ERWAU’R GWYNT
The substantial house Roberts build on the outskirts of Amlwch. Close to the sea, the controversial planning permission added more than £100,000 in today’s prices to the value of the site before a brick was laid.  Picture: Barry Davies

So, even though he stated that he was living in rented accommodation at the time of the application, he and his wife were the owners of three other properties.

One of them was a farmhouse they had owned since 1982.

The Council for the Protection of Rural Wales wrote to the council to say that the reasons were not valid planning reasons and pointed out that “a similar application on virtually the same site was refused in 1973.”

There were also fears that the proposed stables on the site would soon turn into another, separate property within a couple of years.

Roberts’ lawyer was Amlwch solicitor Myrddin Owens, a former Ynys Môn Borough Council employee who also served a term as an elected representative. He was, for a time, chairman of the housing committee.

Owens wrote to the planners: “We have now spoken to our client at some length … he is prepared to enter into an agreement with the council not to apply for any more development on the site.”

He added: “Our client would also wish the committee to be aware that he has been employed and has lived in the area for more than 20 years and that he currently resides in rented accommodation …”

The permission was passed in March 1991. The then Leader of the council, W J Williams, defended the decision: “I don’t think, as far as I’m concerned, as far as members of the planning committee are concerned, that we have dealt with councillors differently to any other applicant.”

However, planning applications like Councillor Roberts’ were causing concern.

Campaigner Tony Nixon attended every planning meeting for four years and sent a report to the Welsh Office.

His analysis revealed 60 cases where councillors had rejected the advice of planners  as well as their own structure plan — and approved applications.

♦♦♦

HAVING SECURED the valuable planning permission — worth between £100,000-£150,000 at today’s prices — Councillor Roberts then moved on to lay the foundations of his property empire in Amlwch.

He was one of three men who made a killing by buying a failed hotel in the centre of Amlwch, obtaining planning permission to turn it into flats and then persuading the council’s housing department to award them a huge grant to carry out the conversion.

But, while this was going on, a local businessman who was trying to do exactly the same thing with another hotel, was utterly ruined.

The Grenville Affair became even more notorious than Roberts’ planning permission.

In 1987 Bill Farrell, a haulage contractor, had bought the Dinorben Arms – a hotel in the town centre. The price was £185,000 and he obtained a mortgage from a brewery.

BILL FARRELL He was treated badly by

BILL FARRELL
To save himself from bankruptcy, he needed permission to convert part of a hotel he owned into flats. Officials thought it was a good idea but the planning committee turned it down.

The purchase of the hotel was handled by the Amlwch solicitor, Myrddin Owens. He was also the solicitor who had acted for Gareth Winston Roberts over his planning application.

The Dinorben Arms was a major landmark in Amlwch town centre. The front section was a listed building but a modern extension had been built at the back.

The flat roof on the extension needed replacing but the night after contractors began work, there was a major fire that destroyed part of the roof and six bedrooms.

“So that was a good start to a new venture,” said Farrell. “Two weeks later Shirley, my wife, had a stroke and died very suddenly.”

To try to stimulate business, Farrell started running discos. They were profitable but there were problems when customers left the pub and caused trouble in the town centre.

Farrell tried to introduce a members-only system to try to control the situation. But he then received a visit from then Chief Inspector Clive McGregor (later leader of the council between 2009-2011).

Farrell says that McGregor told him that the membership scheme was unacceptable and that unless he surrendered his entertainment licence, the police would oppose his liquor licence.

Farrell gave up the entertainment licence and turnover fell sharply.

At the time there was a recession. Bill Farrell tried to sell the hotel but couldn’t find a buyer.

HM Customs and Excise was granted a winding up order against Farrell and he lost the family home as well as another pub in Amwlch, the Queens Head.

HM Customs and Excise didn’t take possession of the Dinorben Arms — giving Farrell the chance to  obtain planning permission to convert the modern extension at the back of the hotel into eight flats.

“Everyone was aware that if I didn’t get planning permission we were going to go bust,” he says, “which is exactly what happened.”

A council official examined the proposals in December 1990 and recommended approval.

“There is considerable demand for single person accommodation which the council is unable to cater for because of a shortage of local authority flats.”

He added that some hotels in Amlwch were being used to put up these people “but good quality flats are far better to meet the needs of single persons than bed and breakfast or houses in multiple occupation.”

“In this respect, these proposals for the Dinorben may be useful for accommodating an urgent housing need.”

He noted that some of the proposed flats were on the small side and that proper fire escapes were essential but concluded: “I see no grounds for objection.”

But when the scheme came before the planning committee, it was twice rejected.

It was refused on the grounds that it would overload the sewers — despite three letters from the National Rivers Authority each stating separately and categorically that in their opinion the conversion would mean a considerable reduction on the load into the sewers.

The committee also cited the fact that the development would have a detrimental effect on the front part of the building which was listed. However, Farrell’s plans only affected the modern extension at the rear.

DINORBEN ARMS Bill Farrell wanted to turn a modern extension at the rear into flats. Anglesey's planning committee turned him down for reasons that were demonstrably false. Picture: Barry Davies

DINORBEN ARMS HOTEL
Bill Farrell wanted to turn a modern extension at the rear into flats. Anglesey’s planning committee turned him down for reasons that were demonstrably false. Picture: Barry Davies

With the refusal, HM Customs and Excise also took possession of the Dinorben Arms.

Bill Farrell was forced to live in a rented caravan: all he was allowed to keep was a single van to carry on a small part of his haulage business.

A stone’s throw from the Dinorben Arms is what used to be the Grenville Hotel.

It had been repossessed and in 1991 it was bought for £55,000 by a consortium of local people including local Councillor Gareth Winston Roberts.

The other members were Roberts’ solicitor Myrddin Owens and Peter Egan, a solicitor in the same Amlwch law practice as Owens.

Six months after Bill Farrell’s plans were turned down, the council approved a scheme to convert the Grenville Hotel … into eight flats.

Unlike the Dinorben, councillors didn’t feel the need to bring the application before the planning committee. The matter was dealt with by officers under delegated powers.

Their approval was quick— just over a fortnight — compared with the months Bill Farrell had to wait before his refusal.

Farrell was stunned.

“What could I do, you know? It wasn’t just me that felt something had gone very badly wrong – a lot of local people were quite inflamed, incensed at the idea that these people had come along and done exactly what I’d wanted to do and wasn’t allowed to do …”

Gareth Winston Roberts, who was a member of the planning committee, had supported Bill Farrell’s application to convert the Grenville Arms.

In the council files on the Dinorben Arms and the Grenville Hotel there are two extraordinary memos written in 1992 by Arthur Owen, the council’s Director of Planning.

In the first he stated bluntly: “ I cannot … give what could be considered a satisfactory planning reason for approving one proposal and refusing the other.”

In another he noted: “In my opinion the Council was fortunate that the Ombudsman did not investigate the matter as, from a planning point of view, there was no valid reason to refuse permission on the Dinorben Arms Hotel.”

Rebecca Television asked the current Ombudsman for Wales office why there was no investigation into the affair. A spokesperson told us they did not keep files going back that far.

♦♦♦

THE GRENVILLE went from strength to strength. Soon after it was given planning permission, it was awarded a council grant that covered almost all of the estimated cost of renovating the building.

The grant was £220,000 — just £30,000 short of the sum Councillor Roberts claimed he and his partners needed to convert the hotel.

The formula for working out what an applicant should receive was simple. It was calculated by working out the income before the conversion and comparing it with the rent afterwards.

If the rent was higher afterwards, which is normally the case, the amount of grant is reduced. If it is lower, which is unusual, then the grant is higher.

The grant for the Grenville was high because the projected rent for the eight new flats was much lower than the income allegedly generated by the building when it was a working hotel.

GRENVILLE HOTEL Gareth Winston Roberts and his partners had no trouble getting planning permission — and soon had an enormous grant to convert it into flats. Picture: Barry Davies

GRENVILLE HOTEL
Gareth Winston Roberts and his partners had no trouble getting planning permission — and soon had an enormous grant to convert it into flats. Picture: Barry Davies

Agents acting for Councillor Roberts and the two solicitors claimed that the Grenville Hotel’s annual income before the renovation was nearly £82,000.

This was based on 28 beds being occupied for three-quarters of the year at a weekly rate of £75. The projected income from the shop and the eight flats was far less.

This entitled the applicants to a grant of £220,000.

However, the current affairs television programme Wales This Week did some investigating in 1993.

A researcher went back to Valerie Kelly, one of the original owners of the Grenville, and asked her about the occupancy rates.

She told the programme that the average number of paying customers was nine guests paying £55 a week — giving a maximum annual income of £26,000.

This was less than a third of the figure the applicants had declared.

But the grant was approved by the Ynys Môn housing and property department. The director was John Arthur Jones.

Bill Farrell was staggered by the size of the grant.

“These people have had a grant of £220,000 on a scheme that was costing £250,000 and there again my flats was going to cost £42,000 for eight flats. Maybe I was being a bit extra efficient because I was paying for it myself.”

The Grenville was one of the foundations of Gareth Winston Roberts’ property portfolio in Amlwch, today worth more than a million pounds.

In 1992 the Dinorben Arms was purchased from the receivers by a consortium comprising Gareth Winston Roberts, Myrddin Owens and Peter Egan.

The price was just £80,000 compared with the £185,000 Bill Farrell paid in 1987.

Bill Farrell’s humiliation was complete.

The Dinorben-Grenville affair caused a scandal in Anglesey at the time. Complaints was made to the District Auditor, the Welsh Office, the Ombudsman — and the North Wales Police.

Nothing happened to correct the injustice done to Bill Farrell.

One ratepayer wrote to the council asking them to investigate. “Here is a classic case of the council badly treating one applicant,” he told chief executive Leon Gibson, “most probably on a thumbs down from the local member, yet granting consent to one of his direct competitors, a company in which the local member has an interest.”

He added: “This is just the sort of dirty double-dealing that we have been complaining about for years. Is it not time that something was done about it?”

Gibson asked the Director of Planning, Arthur Owen, to look into this complaint. Arthur Owen wrote a report which the council told us has now been lost.

But in the planning file there is a memo from Owen to the chief executive.

“From a planning point of view,” Owen wrote, “the matter has already been considered by the Ombudsman and a complaint sent to the Welsh Office.”

“The Ombudsman did not wish to investigate and the Secretary of State did not call in the application.”

But he added: “the council was fortunate that the Ombudsman did not investigate the matter as, from a planning point of view, there was no valid reason to refuse permission on the Dinorben Arms Hotel.”

In 1993 the borough council’s chief executive Leon Gibson said that the District Auditor had investigated the grant awarded to the Grenville Hotel in November and early December 1992.

He told the Wales This Week television programme in 1993 that the District Auditor “was satisfied that the … grant application had been properly dealt with in accordance with current legislation.”

♦♦♦

IN 2008 the Grenville was sold for just £210,000.

In the early 1990s Gareth Winston Roberts and his partners had bought the property for £55,000 and the council had given them a £220,000 grant.

GARETH WINSTON ROBERTS The mystery of the Grenville grant was never solved...

GARETH WINSTON ROBERTS
Although he is not standing in the May local elections, he has already been elected unopposed for a seat on Amlwch Town Council. Also elected, unopposed, was solicitor Myrddin Owens.

On paper, at that time, it should have been worth £275,000.

In the period between the purchase of the hotel and its sale in 2008, house prices in the UK rose by 320 per cent. The Grenville should have been worth anything up to £885,000.

The decline in value is a colossal £610,000.

Amlwch is a depressed area and house prices didn’t increase in line with the national average.

Even so, somewhere between a quarter and half a million pounds in public funds, at todays prices, appears to have vanished into thin air.

We asked Gareth Winston Roberts and his partners Myrddin Owens and Peter Egan to explain the discrepancy.

Roberts had not replied by the time this article was published.

However, in 1993 he said:  “ … in-depth investigations, which lasted around 18 months, were conducted by a number of organisations, and none found any evidence of impropriety in relation to my business affairs.”

No reply had been received from Myrddin Owens and Peter Egan by the time we went to press.

Today, Bill Farrell has remarried and lives in Rhosgoch, a few miles from Amlwch.

He continued as a small-scale haulage contractor until he retired.

He now says of Gareth Winston Roberts: “Whenever I see that man, my flesh crawls.”

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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.

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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COMING UP

WE CONTINUE the extraordinary story of the political life and times of John Arthur Jones who’s trying to regain a seat on the council in May. In the article The Gospel According To “Jesus” Arthur Jones Rebecca Television reveals the astonishing self-belief of a man who likened himself to Christ when he was sacked by the council. During a televised confrontation with a journalist, he tried to sabotage the exchange by accusing him of being a paedophile. And we have obtained an extraordinary statement he made which bears testament to the way officials and politicians really ran Anglesey.


THE CASE OF THE CORRUPT COUNCILLOR

March 31, 2013

 rebecca_6aJOHN ARTHUR JONES is one of the most controversial characters ever to have graced local government in Wales.

Now he’s standing for the council in the May elections on Anglesey.

But he has a problem. Last August the council’s Standards Committee delivered a damning verdict on one of his closest political allies.

Elected as a councillor in 2004, Jones went on to form his own political group, the Radical Independents. For three years the group held the balance of political power on the island.

Jones’ deputy was the retired estate agent David Lewis Roberts.

Last August the council’s Standards Committee delivered a damning indictment on the way David Lewis Roberts handled planning applications.

The committee said his conduct “had been within the generally understood meaning of ‘corrupt’ …” and “gave a clear impression that he had misused his position for personal advantage, and that it amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.”

The committee’s judgement has never been reported properly — until now …

JOHN ARTHUR JONES
His career in local government has been stormy — he was sacked as Housing Director in 1998 and ten years later lost his seat on the council.

THERE HAVE been two major crises in the political life of Anglesey — and John Arthur Jones has been at the heart of both of them.

Now he is standing again as a councillor in the forthcoming May 2 local elections.

The election was delayed for a year because of the Welsh Government’s dramatic intervention in the affairs of the authority.

His election leaflet doesn’t mention his role in either the crisis of 1996-1998 or the more recent 2005-2008 planning scandal.

He dramatically lost his job as the council’s Housing Director in 1998 after the District Auditor delivered a devastating verdict on the way he ran the department.

Jones personally awarded contracts worth millions of pounds, by-passing the council’s own tendering rules.

The police were called in to investigate the way Jones had built a house on the island. Some of the work was done by men who were receiving housing benefit from the council’s housing department.

Jones was charged with misuse of public office, intimidating witnesses and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He pleaded not guilty – and has always insisted that he was completely innocent.

The trial was stopped after prosecution witnesses admitted discussing the case among themselves.

Jones was elected to the council in 2004 and formed his own political group, the Radical Independents, in 2005.

The four-strong group became the junior members of the coalition that ruled the island for the next three years.

Jones’ deputy was David Lewis Roberts who had already started a campaign to smash the planning rules in the Shepherds Hill area a couple of miles from Benllech.

In a television interview in 2008, Roberts claimed that each member of the Radical Independents was a free agent.

DAVID LEWIS ROBERTS The retired estate agent from Benllech who tried to drive a coach and horses through Anglesey's planning rules.

DAVID LEWIS ROBERTS
The retired estate agent from Benllech tried to drive a coach and horses through Anglesey’s planning rules…

“When we formulated the Radical Independents,” he told ITV Wales, “we had an agreement between the four of us – I’m sure the others would tell – that we’d do our own thing. In other words, we didn’t comply with a whip in any form.”

Planning was one of the group’s major areas of interest. David Lewis Roberts was a member of the planning committee, John Arthur Jones was the vice-chairman and a third member, Hefin Wyn Thomas, was the Cabinet member in charge of planning.

♦♦♦

SOON AFTER Roberts was elected, planning applications began to be submitted to build new houses in the quiet country lanes of the Shepherds Hill area of his ward.

Under the existing Local Structure Plan, new houses were not allowed and the normal practice was that planners would refuse the applications using delegated powers.

Councillor Roberts began “calling in” these applications — known as “departures” because they were departures from the  council’s structure plan —  which meant they would be determined by councillors rather than planners.

Roberts called in at least ten departure applications in his ward. Had all of them been successful, the total value added to the land involved would have been in the region of £1,200,000.

The small community of Shepherds Hill became divided between those who saw a chance to make a financial killing and those who wanted to preserve the character of the area.

Some residents couldn’t resist the lure of a planning permission that would add more than £100,000 to the value of their property.

Their opponents felt that the narrow country lanes — many of them one way tracks with passing places — couldn’t cope with increased traffic. Some also feared that a rash of new houses would reduce the value of their properties.

In May 2006 an application was submitted by a retired policeman for a new property next to the house known as Pant y Bugail.

This land was owned by local landowner and community councillor Dewi Wyn Roberts.

Dewi Wyn Roberts is not related to David Lewis Roberts but the latter “called in” the application to stop it being refused by planners under delegated powers.

As he had done with other applications, Councillor Roberts argued that Shepherds Hill was a “cluster” within the meaning of the Anglesey Local Structure Plan and that the application should be approved.

Planners told him he was wrong, Shepherds Hill was not defined as a “cluster” and recommended refusal.

The owner of Pant y Bugail, Adrian Broad, became concerned about what was happening at Shepherds Hill.

Broad told journalists there were widespread rumours that David Lewis Roberts had bought land in Shepherds Hill from Dewi Wyn Roberts — and was determined to smash the planning restrictions to get planning permission on the land he had bought.

Broad said the rumour was that the land Councillor Roberts had bought was a field of rough grazing land known as The Bonc. The boundary of The Bonc was close to Broad’s home.

Broad decided that he had no alternative but to buy a strip of land from Dewi Wyn Roberts to create a “buffer zone” between his property and The Bonc. It was less than an acre but the “ransom strip” cost him £4,500.

Eventually, in July 2006, the planning application was rejected — with John Arthur Jones voting against it.

But another application, just across the road, was finally approved at the same meeting. Again John Arthur Jones voted against.

This was a paddock next to a house called Bwthyn ar y Bryn owned by an elderly couple, George and June Green.

THE PADDOCK — BEFORE

THE PADDOCK — BEFORE
This field of grazing land was worth a few thousand pounds …

DSC_1021

THE PADDOCK — AFTER
… with planning permission, the value rocketed to £125,000.

They spoke to Councillor Roberts who came to see them.

“I said I would do my best for them,” Roberts told ITV Wales two years later  “…they said we want to move because the garden is getting too big and I said OK then and that’s what I went on. I got them the planning.”

Another  resident, David Armour,  claimed that Councillor Roberts came to see him and other residents to try to persuade them that it was council policy to build new houses in Shepherds Hill.

“To my knowledge there must have maybe been ten or twelve objections,” he told reporters, “but as far as he was concerned he was pushing it through and he actually told me on the phone that as far as he’s concerned it would be passed.”

Councillor Roberts spoke up for and voted in favour of the Greens’ application.

When it was finally approved, John Arthur Jones voted against.

The Greens never built anything on the paddock. In October 2006 they sold the site to local businessman Tony Hargreaves for £80,000.

Hargreaves had signed David Lewis Roberts’ nomination papers when he decided to stand as a councillor in 2004.

The Greens later sold their existing bungalow to Hargreaves – and moved to Spain.

Hargreaves later sold the paddock for £125,000.

♦♦♦

BUT BY NOW it was becoming clear that Councillor Roberts was breaking the council’s constitution which does not allow members of the planning committee to lobby for or against applications.

They can do so ‚ but only if they declare an interest and take no further part in the planning committee’s determination of the application.

Planning meetings in the summer of 2006 became heated. After one , a senior council official wrote to committee members to say that ” … if the current trend continues a point will be reached where the committee will lose the confidence of its officers let alone that of the public or even the National Assembly.”

In July John Arthur Jones resigned as vice-chairman of the committee saying that he was fed up with committee members making decisions on personal rather than planning grounds. He remained a committee member.

He stopped short of openly criticising David Lewis Roberts. Roberts resigned from the committee — a move that allowed him to openly support applications at Shepherds Hill.

In December 2006 the council’s external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, produced a report about the large number of departure applications which were coming before the planning committee.

The report noted allegations that David Lewis Roberts was breaking the planning procedure rules and stated:

” … it is imperative that the Council should investigate all alleged breaches of the code of conduct in line with its own procedures.”

The council said it wasn’t its responsibility to investigate.

But opposition to David Lewis Roberts was growing.

The man who acted as the main “whistleblower” was former demolition contractor Barrie Durkin from Benllech who was a member of the community council which covered the Shepherds Hill area.

In 2006 Durkin sent a letter to every councillor. Entitled “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, the letter accused Roberts of “failing to declare an interest and corrupting endless planning applications involving developments worth millions …”

Roberts complained to the Ombudsman saying that Durkin was “outrageous, intolerable and psychotic”.

The Ombudsman, at that time Adam Peat, condemned Durkin:

BARRIE DURKIN For years the retired demolition contractor was a thorn in the side of the Radical Independents.

BARRIE DURKIN
For years the retired demolition contractor was the main “whistleblower” on Anglesey. He became a thorn in the side of the David Lewis Roberts and John Arthur Jones.

“In my view, the language he has chosen to use is more than ‘colourful’, it goes far beyond what could reasonably be regarded as the normal currency of political debate and is clearly libellous.”

He sent the matter to Anglesey’s Standards Committee in 2007 for determination.

The committee “censured” Durkin, ruling that the language he had used against David Lewis Roberts failed to “show respect and consideration” and had brought the office of community councillor into “disrepute”.

In 2008 Durkin was elected to the council. In the same poll, David Lewis Roberts and John Arthur Jones both lost their seats.

In April 2010 David Lewis Roberts made another complaint to the Ombudsman about the language Durkin used against him.

Roberts complained that two weeks earlier Durkin wrote a letter to all councillors in which the whistleblower claimed: “it’s little wonder that the likes of ex, Councillor David Lewis Roberts, was being able to corrupt the Planning Committee on a number of occasions, with complete immunity (which he has now admitted to)”

Roberts also complained that Durkin had also claimed, on the Druid of Anglesey blog, that Roberts had “openly admitted” that he’d told lies, and admitted to everything i’d (sic) accused him of.”

Durkin added:

“Unfortunately because of the ambience of immunity which still exists, David Lewis Roberts is now – through his corrupt activities – sitting on some nine acres of land in one of the most prestiges (sic) area of natural beauty on Anglesey worth with Planning permission without laying a brick some, £10,000,000 or so. Who said crime doesn’t pay?”

The Ombudsman — by now it was Peter Tyndall — was not impressed. He concluded that Durkin “uses phrases (sic) such as ‘corrupt’, ‘lies’ and ‘crime’ when referring to Mr Lewis Roberts. Each of these words gives rise to negative connotations about a person’s character.”

“To suggest that a person is corrupt or the perpetrator of unlawful or criminal acts is a very serious allegation to make and one which I consider should not be made lightly.”

The Ombudsman did concede that it was possible that Roberts had broken the council’s constitution and that he may have failed to declare an interest.

But he chose to concentrate on the words Durkin used  that Roberts had “corrupted the planning committee” – and said there was no evidence to support this allegation.

He added “that the manner he employed to express his concerns can only have the effect of lowering the public’s expectations and confidence in their elected members.”

He ended by saying  ” … I am satisfied that his actions in commenting on these issues in the way that he did could only have the effect of bringing the authority into disrepute at a time when it is trying to recover from the problems of the past.”

He referred the matter to the Standards Committee which, in August last year, met to consider the matter.

This time around, the committee’s hearing was to be dramatic and its conclusion electrifying.

♦♦♦

THE STANDARDS Committee ignored the nit-picking stance taken by the Ombudsman and got straight down to the core of the issue — was there any substance to Barrie Durkin’s claim that David Lewis Roberts was corrupt?

The Committee rejected an attempt by the council to hear the case in private.

The committee heard from both Durkin and Roberts.

Although Durkin was “not a strong witness as a number of his broad assertions were not supported by evidence”, Roberts was an “unreliable and evasive witness”.

The committee homed in on the relationship between David Lewis Roberts and Dewi Wyn Roberts.

DAVID LEWIS ROBERTS
An “unreliable and evasive witness.”

When he gave evidence to the Standards Committee, David Lewis Roberts said he signed a legally binding agreement to buy 9 acres of land called The Bonc at Shepherds Hill on 20 April 2007. The price was £15,000.

The committee then looked at his conduct at the full council meeting on 5 April 2007 where David Lewis Roberts had spoken up in favour of a planning application in Shepherds Hill.

The committee concluded “that, contrary to his evidence, Mr David Lewis Roberts had been in negotiation to acquire the option on the 9 acres at Shepherds Hill for significantly longer than the ‘3 or 4 days’ which he stated, before the completion of the option on 20 April 2007.”

The committee bluntly concluded “… this conduct gave a clear impression he had misused his position for personal advantage, and that it amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.”

It found that “the substance” of Durkin’s comments “were correct” … “Mr David Lewis Roberts’ conduct in local planning matters in the public office of County Councillor had been within the generally understood meaning of ‘corrupt’ …”

It added that “he had acquired 9 acres of land in a prime location and, if he obtained planning permission for the residential development of that land, it would have very considerable value; and his conduct gave the impression that it amounted to misconduct in public office.”

The Committee also took a dim view of Robert’s activities while he was a member of the council’s Local Development Panel in 2006 and 2007.

The panel was considering where new building would be allowed in the future. Shepherds Hill was discussed as a possible area for new housing but Roberts did not declare an interest.

In January 2008 Shepherd’s Hill resident Peter Day, a friend of David Lewis Roberts who had made several unsuccessful applications to build new houses in the area, submitted a request that the councillor’s 9 acres should be considered for housing development. Day said he was doing so on behalf of David Lewis Roberts.

In December 2011, David Lewis Roberts himself submitted the site for inclusion as housing land in the next Local Development Plan.

Although he had said that his ambition was to build a log cabin for him and his wife, now he was suggesting that 10 houses might be built on the site.

If the council ever give permission to build these 10 properties David Lewis Roberts’ investment of just £15,000 would be worth more than a million pounds.

Inevitably, the Standards committee rejected David Lewis Roberts’ complaint against Barrie Durkin.

♦♦♦

IN FACT, the situation was far worse than the Standards Committee believed because David Lewis Roberts lied when he gave evidence to it— just as he had earlier lied to the Ombudsman.

His claim that  he bought The Bonc in April 2007 is false — he actually bought the land six months earlier in September 2006.

Rebecca Television has obtained a copy of an email from his solicitors Edwards & Lane which states: “We confirm the date of exchange of contracts was 13th September 2006.” The email identifies the plot as “Land lying to the north of Pant y Bugail, Tyn y Gongl”.

That plot is The Bonc.

The reason why David Lewis Roberts was desperate to conceal the actual date of purchase was that he had supported a key application on land owned by Dewi Lewis Roberts after he had bought The Bonc.

Early in 2007 he had called in an application to build a house on land at Tan Y Marian, not far away from Shepherds Hill. When it came before the planning committee in March 2007, Roberts supported the development.

The application was finally approved by the planning committee in June 2007. Roberts did not declare an interest.

TAN Y MARIAN A new house being built on the second plot David Lewis Roberts helped

LAND NEAR TAN Y MARIAN
Planning permission for this house  was granted after the man who owned the land secretly sold another plot to Councillor David Lewis Roberts …

John Arthur Jones voted in favour as did another member of Radical Independents, Hefin Thomas.

The permission turned a plot of land that was worth only a few thousand pounds into a site worth £125,000.

But, even though David Lewis Roberts had successfully pulled the wool over the Standards Committee’s eyes over the date he purchased The Bonc, it did him no good.

The Standards Committee verdict was utterly damning.

But the committee then fatally undermined the power of its own verdict by deciding that no further action needed to be taken.

It said that planning procedures had been tightened up and local members could no longer “call in” applications after the council changed the rules in September 2007.

It also noted that the membership of the council had changed.

“Accordingly, the Committee concluded that no action needs to be taken in respect of the matters which were the subject of the hearing.”

The wider message is clear. Get elected to the council and try to corrupt the planning process.

David Lewis Roberts broke the rules — and managed to drive through two planning permissions each worth £125,000.

Even if you’re caught, the council will do little or nothing to stop you …

Last October Rebecca Television wrote to the North Wales Police to ask them to carry out an investigation into David Lewis Roberts’ activities to determine if he has broken the criminal law.

In November Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Williams wrote to say that he was studying the Standards Committee papers.

He promised to “update you further in the early part of next year.” He has not been in touch since.

We asked David Lewis Roberts for a comment. He did not reply to our email.

When the local press reported the Standards Committee verdict it didn’t include its conclusion that Roberts’ conduct  “amounted to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office”.

Instead, it reported that Durkin had been cleared.

It quoted David Lewis Roberts “I’m disappointed. I thought the committee was biased in his favour.”

We also asked John Arthur Jones to comment. There was no reply by the time this article was published.

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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COMING UP

LAST YEAR Winston Roddick, QC was elected the first police commissioner for North Wales. For many years Roddick was a member of one of Wales’ most powerful masonic lodges until he decided to stand down after he took up a judicial appointment. But why didn’t his election campaign make it clear he’d once been a mason? And did the masonic vote in North Wales play any part in his victory? 


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