ANOTHER RE-BAIL FOR GORDON ANGLESEA

September 11, 2014

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BAIL FOR the former North Wales Police superintendent Gordon Anglesea has been extended again.

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

When he answered bail today at an undisclosed police station he was re-bailed until January next year.

A spokesman for the National Crime Agency, which runs Operation Pallial, told Rebecca Television:

“enquiries are ongoing.”

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

GORDON ANGLESEA
THE RETIRED North Wales Police superintendent has had his bail extended until January.
Picture: © Daily Mirror

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COMING UP

THE INVESTIGATION into the closed world of BBC Wales continues with a detailed analysis of the crisis that engulfed the Corporation between 2008 and 2011. The current regime, headed by Rhodri Talfan Davies, has taken the unprecedented step of announcing it will no longer answer questions from Rebecca Television 

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IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER?

June 18, 2014

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

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

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

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

It’s the board of directors who really benefit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its share price sank and predators closed in.

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

The Americans won.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the note at the end of this article.)

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

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

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

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

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

She didn’t leave the Corporation until February 2011.

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

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

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

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

This was after she had finally left BBC Wales.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They’re paid nothing.

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

Water was never privatised in Scotland.

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

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

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

Not a bit of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No answers were forthcoming.

We emailed Geraint Talfan Davies for a response.

We also asked Menna Richards to comment.

Neither replied by the time this article was posted.

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

Relatives of Menna Richards have also done well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The figures were surprisingly high:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was no response.

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

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

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

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

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

The following month, Patrick Hannan resigned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She wrote:

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

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

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

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

The BBC’s accounts for the year 2009-2010 carried no declaration from Menna Richards — who served throughout the year — about the value of any commissions obtained by Parrog.

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

Again, the BBC accounts for 2010-2011 did not include a declaration of her connection with Parrog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He became a favourite of Margaret Thatcher — when she made one of her few visits to Wales in 1989, she extolled Jones’ virtues:

“I just want to say what a marvellous chap they’ve got at the Welsh Development Agency.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The crook was later gaoled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All costs were paid by the Agency.

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

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

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

He told the Committee:

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

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

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

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

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

Jones replied:

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

French was also sceptical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IT TOOK several months to track down the Jaguar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next day Bruce Kennedy met with Menna Richards.

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

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

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

He added:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He left HTV Wales shortly afterwards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We asked Menna Richards to comment.

She didn’t reply.

But that was far from the end of the story.

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

♦♦♦

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

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

However, Jones began to indicate that he thought differently.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The programme went ahead.

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

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

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

The programme was broadcast two weeks before Christmas 1996.

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

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

♦♦♦

THE REST is history.

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

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

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NOTE

1 The Rebecca Television investigation into Glas Cymru, the company that owns Welsh Water, was published as  The Great Welsh Water Robbery. It argues customers have seen few benefits while some of the executives who actually control the business have become millionaires …

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GORDON ANGLESEA RE-BAILED

April 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

He was then re-bailed until early September.

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

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

COMING UP

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

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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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THE HOUSE OF PICKERING

April 23, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

But Pickering has a new game plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The business has often had difficulty paying its way.

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

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

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

The sum was paid two months later.

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

This wasn’t satisfied until January of this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the years that followed the position worsened.

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

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

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

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

And Pickering’s rugby career was flourishing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another £400,000 was owed in VAT.

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

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

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

Little of these events ever appeared in the Welsh media.

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

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IT started with a tip-off in April 2006

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

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

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

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

This is the relevant extract:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pickering had two judgments against him personally. 

PICKERING TICKET

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

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

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

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

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DAVID PICKERING survived the motion of no confidence in 2006.

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

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

Both soon went out of business.

In October 2006 R & R Group Ltd was dissolved.

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

It was worthless.

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

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

It was dissolved in April 2007.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R & A Properties is not registered with Companies House.

Pickering told Western Mail chief reporter Martin Shipton:

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

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

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

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

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

David Pickering’s stake is zero.

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

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

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

Our investigation into this deal continues.

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

He’s got others closer to home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lloyds debt was paid a few months later.

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

This was repaid four months later.

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

This debt has also been satisfied.

But a substantial debt remains unpaid.

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

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

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

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

The Queen Anne Square property is leasehold only.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The amount isn’t specified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We told him this was not Rebecca Television policy.

Williams said:

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

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

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COMING UP

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

♦♦♦

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

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

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

 


MIRROR CONFIRMS GORDON ANGLESEA ARREST

January 24, 2014

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

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

He said “I have no comment to make”.

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

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

The RTV story was not acknowledged by either title.

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

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

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

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

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GORDON ANGLESEA ARRESTED

January 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Agency would not reveal his identity.

Rebecca Television understands it is Gordon Anglesea.

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

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

Anglesea is a Rotarian and a Freemason.

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

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

We told him we were planning to name Anglesea.

Roberts replied that Anglesea had not resigned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1976 Anglesea joined a masonic lodge in Colwyn Bay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We asked for a comment.

Royal Mail confirmed delivery of the letter.

There was no reply.

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


© 
Rebecca Television 2014

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THE MESSHAM INTERVENTION

November 13, 2013

rebecca_logo_04THE JOURNALISTIC nightmare which engulfed the BBC over the handling of child abuse allegations in North Wales has catapulted the Rebecca Television series The Case of the Flawed Tribunal into the limelight.

In November 2012 the Newsnight programme allowed Stephen Messham to falsely accuse Lord McAlpine of abusing children in North Wales.

There was plenty of evidence that Stephen Messham is a damaged character whose testimony required careful evaluation.  

But the BBC’s mistake has made it possible for the Rebecca Television investigation to be taken seriously.

David Cameron’s decision to launch an  inquiry means the allegations outlined in The Case of the Flawed Tribunal will be considered by a High Court judge.

(This article was originally published last December.)

STEPHEN MESSHAM

STEPHEN MESSHAM
Photographed in 2000 holding a copy of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal report, Messham was described in its pages as “severely damaged psychologically”.
Photo: Phil Noble / PA

HOW WAS it that Stephen Messham — a man “severely damaged psychologically” —  was allowed to accuse a senior Tory politician of child abuse on a  national current affairs programme when those same allegations had been dismissed as unreliable twenty years earlier?

Messham, the 49-year-old former resident of the Bryn Estyn children’s home near Wrexham, was the key witness in the BBC’s now notorious early November edition of Newsnight about child abuse in North Wales.

Messham claimed he’d been sexually abused by a senior Tory politician while he was in care.

Newsnight did not identify the man but a frenzy of speculation on the internet meant that Lord McAlpine was quickly — and falsely — “outed” as the alleged abuser.

A week later Messham saw a photograph of Lord McAlpine and declared he was not the man who had abused him.

The media firestorm that followed this disastrous broadcast forced the BBC’s newly-appointed Director General, former Newsnight editor George Entwistle, to resign.

It also cost the editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Iain Overton, his job.

It was the Bureau’s lead reporter Angus Stickler, a former BBC journalist, who came up with the idea for Newsnight and he presented the item.

On the morning of the broadcast, Overton tweeted:

“If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile”.

The night before Overton had attended an Oxford University Union debate where Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick, himself a former Newsnight journalist, asked him if the unidentified politician was McAlpine.

The Observer quotes Overton as saying: “Well, you said it.”

On the day of the broadcast, Michael Crick spoke to Lord McAlpine who denied that he was involved in child abuse — and said he would sue if he was named.

Newsnight did not contact the politician because it decided not to name him.

So why did Stickler, an experienced reporter who won the Sony Radio Academy Award for the best news journalist in 2006, make such an elementary mistake?

LORD McALPINE The Tory peer was faslely accused of child abuse by Stephen Messham on Newsnight. He

LORD McALPINE
The Tory peer falsely accused of child abuse by Stephen Messham on BBC Newsnight. He wasn’t named in the item but quickly identified on the internet. He brought successful actions against many media outlets.  Photo: PA

After all, there has to be a good reason why such a serious allegation had never been reported by a mainstream newspaper or broadcaster in more than two decades.

That reason was simple — journalists could find no evidence that justified publication.

The only title that did accuse Lord McAlpine was the magazine Scallywag — and Scallywag was never taken seriously.

In addition, there is plenty of easily accessible material about Stephen Messham’s tragic life.

Take Lost In Care, the report of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse.

In its pages, Stephen Messham is identified as “witness B”.

This is what the report said about “witness B”:

“We are satisfied that B has suffered a long history of sexual abuse before, during and after his period in care and, to a significant extent until he left care, of physical abuse.”

“As a result he has been, and remains, severely damaged psychologically: he has been greatly affected also by the sudden death of his young wife in very sad circumstances …”

“A major problem is that the damage is reflected in B’s personality in such a way that he presents himself as an unreliable witness by the standards that an ordinary member of a jury is likely to apply.”

“Thus, he is highly sensitive to any criticism and explosive in his reactions …”

“He has been described also as manipulative and there are many matters on which he is particularly vulnerable in cross-examination.”

Lord McAlpine is not the only figure Stephen Messham has falsely accused of serious sexual offences.

He was one of three witnesses who appeared in the 1994 libel action brought by former North Wales Police superintendent Gordon Anglesea against Private Eye, The Observer, the Independent on Sunday and the broadcaster HTV.

See the article The Trials of Gordon Anglesea for the full details of the case.

Stephen Messham is not named in this report but he is the witness who collapsed in the dock.

He was cross-examined about inconsistencies in his evidence.

A jury found by a majority 10-2 verdict that Gordon Anglesea had been wrongly accused.

Damages of £375,000 were agreed.

Another publication where Stephen Messham’s approach to evidence is highlighted is Richard Webster’s 2005 book The Secret of Bryn Estyn.

Here Messham is given the alias “Lee Steward”.

Webster tells the story of how Messham was approached several times about Gordon Anglesea by the freelance journalist Dean Nelson.

Messham complained to the police that Nelson was harassing him.

In a statement he said “ … I would like to say that at no time did Gordon Anglesea ever sexually abuse me.”

It was only later that Messham made statements claiming he’d been abused by Anglesea.

There was, then, plenty of evidence that Stephen Messham’s testimony should be treated with caution.

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WHEN STEPHEN Messham finally admitted he’d made a mistake about Lord McAlpine, there was a danger the government would call off the two inquiries into the North Wales scandal.

But in the highly charged political atmosphere that existed in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair, David Cameron and the Cabinet decided that they must go ahead.

THERESA MAY The Home Secretary told Paul Flynn MP in the House of Commons that the Rebecca Television allegations would be investigated. Photo: PA

THERESA MAY
The Home Secretary told Paul Flynn MP in the House of Commons last November that the Rebecca Television allegations would be investigated.  Photo: PA

They are a review of the Waterhouse Tribunal by High Court judge Mrs Justice Macur and an investigation of new allegations of child abuse in the 1970s and 1980s by the director of the National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow.

Rebecca Television (RTV) is already a participant in these inquiries and has made several statements to both.

In addition, editor Paddy French met with Mrs Justice Macur at the Royal Courts of Justice earlier this year.

Before Messham’s intervention, the series of articles published as The Case of the Flawed Tribunal by RTV were totally ignored by the media.

Now the allegations are likely to be tested.

The most important of the failures of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal highlighted by the series is the treatment of Des Frost, the number two at the privately-owned Bryn Alyn complex of children’s homes near Wrexham.

Frost’s boss John Allen was gaoled for six years in 1995 for abusing boys in his care.

Briefly, Frost claimed he had reported allegations of abuse against Allen in 1980 — more than ten years before Allen was arrested.

He said that he asked detectives from Cheshire Constabulary to pass on his concerns to police in Wrexham.

(The full story can be found in the article Silent Witness.)

During the period when the Tribunal was taking evidence, in 1997, the HTV programme Wales This Week interviewed Frost about these allegations.

The Tribunal found out and threatened programme-makers with contempt if details of the allegations were broadcast.

They were removed.

But Frost was not called as a witness and his evidence  was never investigated.

Rebecca Television believes this was a major flaw in the Tribunal’s deliberations.

As a result, the Tribunal conclusion — “there was no significant omission by the North Wales Police in investigating the complaints of abuse to children in care” — is suspect.

Police visited Frost shortly after he was interviewed by HTV and took a statement from him.

In 2011 we wrote to the North Wales Police officer who carried out this interview — Detective Chief Inspector Neil McAdam — to ask what happened to this statement.

McAdam discussed this letter with his superiors who, after discussions with police HQ in Colwyn Bay, told him not to answer.

Rebecca Television complained about the lack of a reply.

The investigation that followed cleared McAdam because he’d been instructed not to reply — “ownership to respond” rested with “someone higher within the organisation”.

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

He did not reply.

In October 2011 we also wrote to then Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan asking her to intervene.

QUESTION TIME The  former Welsh Secretary did not answer a letter from Rebecca Television asking her to appoint a barrister to examine allegations that the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal had not done its job properly.
Photo: PA.

QUESTION TIME
The former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan (on the right) did not answer a letter from Rebecca Television asking her to appoint a barrister to examine allegations that the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal had not done its job properly.
The Tribunal had been launched in 1996 by William Hague (on the left) when he was Welsh Secretary. Last autumn  David Cameron launched an inquiry into the work of the Tribunal — not by a barrister but by a High Court judge.   Photo: PA.

The letter asked her to “appoint a suitably independent barrister to examine the Rebecca Television allegations.”

Gillan never answered the letter.

She passed it on to the Home Office where a press officer replied:

“Any concerns you have should be addressed to the chief officer (i.e. the chief constable) and not the Home Office. The Home Office has no power to intervene or act on your behalf.”

A year after Rebecca Television wrote to the Welsh Secretary, the North Wales child abuse scandal is not being investigated by a barrister as we requested — but by a High Court judge and the head of the National Crime Agency.

 ♦♦♦

NOTES

1
This article was first published on the old RTV website in December last year.

2
The timeline of last autumn’s events is as follows:

Wednesday, October 3
ITV’s Exposure programme “The Other Side of Jimmy” demolishes Sir Jimmy Savile’s reputation.
It emerges that the BBC Newsnight programme shelved a similar programme the previous December — allegations are made that the decision was influenced by the BBC’s planned Xmas tributes to Savile, who died in October 2011.
The row engulfs the upper echelons of the BBC including George Entwistle, a former Newsnight editor, who had just been appointed Director-General.

Friday, November 2
Iain Overton, editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, tweets:
“If all goes well we’ve got a Newsnight out tonight about a very senior political figure who is a paedophile”.
The Newsnight report, fronted by Angus Stickler of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, interviews Stephen Messham who claims he was sexually abused by an unnamed senior Conservative politician.

The former politician is later widely identified on the internet by public figures — including Sally Bercow, wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, and Guardian columnist George Monbiot — as Lord McAlpine, former Tory party treasurer and a key supporter of Margaret Thatcher.

Monday, November 5 
David Cameron, on an official visit to the Middle East, announces two inquiries into the child abuse scandal in North Wales.
One would be into the way North Wales Police handled child abuse allegations in the 1970s and 1980s.

The second would be into the conduct of the 1996-2000 Waterhouse Inquiry by High Court judge, Lady Macur.

Tuesday, November 6 
Stephen Messham meets Welsh Secretary David Jones.
Home Secretary Theresa May makes a statement in the House of Commons on the North Wales child abuse scandal.
In the debate that follows, Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn makes the following point:
“I ask the right hon. Lady to look not only at the fresh evidence but at the evidence that was available at the time and that was almost certainly suppressed by powerful people.”
“Will she look at the evidence produced by Paddy French and the Rebecca Television website on an edition of the Wales This Week that was never broadcast?”
This was Theresa May’s reply:
“The police investigations will look at the evidence that was available at the time in these historical abuse allegations, and at whether the evidence was properly investigated and whether avenues of inquiry were not pursued that should have been followed up and that could have led to prosecutions.”
“I can therefore say to the hon. Gentleman that the police will, indeed, be looking at that historical evidence. That is part of the job they will be doing.”

Wednesday, November 7 
Messham’s story begins to unravel:  Guardian reporter David Leigh uncovers “inconsistencies” in his story.

Thursday, November 8 
Philip Schofield, presenter of ITV’s This Morning programme, hands a briefly visible list of alleged abusers to David Cameron during a live interview.
ITV later disciplines 3 members of staff but does not say who they are or what their punishment is.
The company ends up paying Lord McAlpine compensation of £125,000.

Friday, November 9 
Guardian suggests the identification of Lord McAlpine is a case of “mistaken identity” because Messham told the Waterhouse Tribunal that the McAlpine who allegedly abused him was dead.
Guardian says it had asked Messham to comment on the Wednesday and Thursday but he had declined.
Later the same day Messham issues a statement saying the man in the Newsnight programme is not Lord McAlpine.
“After seeing a picture of the individual concerned in the past hour, this (is) not the person I identified by a photograph presented to me by the police in the early 1990s, who told me the man in the photograph was Lord McAlpine”.
BBC issues “unreserved” apology for broadcasting the item.
All investigations at Newsnight suspended and Corporation stops co-productions “across the BBC” with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
BBC Director Scotland Ken MacQuarrie drafted in to prepare a report.
McAlpine issues statement saying he will issue libel writs.
Subsequently, the BBC pays him £185,000 in damages.

Saturday, November 10 
BBC Director General George Entwistle resigns with a £450,000 pay-off.

Tuesday, November 12
Bureau of Investigative Journalism editor Iain Overton resigns.
Angus Stickler, the Bureau’s lead reporter, “steps aside” while an urgent investigation takes place — he later resigns from the organisation.

♦♦♦

© Rebecca Television 2012 & 2013

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