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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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”.
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.”
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 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.”
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.
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.
© 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.