EXCLUSIVE — GORDON ANGLESEA: THE FINANCIAL REWARDS OF CHILD ABUSE

February 2, 2017

anglesea_head_rewards
INCOMPETENCE BY North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones led to convicted paedophile Gordon Anglesea keeping his police pension.

The Commissioner has acknowledged Anglesea deserved to lose his pension but, in the eight weeks between Anglesea’s conviction and his death, failed to ask the Home Office to revoke it.

Rebecca understands the pension — which is fully-funded from the public purse — is worth up to £25,000 a year.

Jones’ inaction meant that Anglesea was being paid some £500 a week while he was in prison.

Jones has also decided that his widow, Sandra, should receive a widow’s pension  of 50 per cent.

She will receive up to £12,500 a year for the rest of her life.

Rebecca has also discovered the Commissioner did not consult the Home Office over this decision.

We have written to policing minister Brandon Lewis asking him to issue a “forfeiture certificate” under the Police Pensions Regulations 2015.

This would automatically revoke Anglesea’s pension — and prevent his widow from enjoying the proceeds of his child abuse.

♦♦♦ 

THE CONVICTION of Gordon Anglesea on October 21 last year immediately placed his police pension in jeopardy.

He was gaoled for 12 years after a jury unanimously convicted him on four counts of indecent assault on young boys in Wrexham in the early 1980s.

He was a uniform inspector in the North Wales force at the time.

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

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

anglesea

There are compelling reasons to believe Brandon Lewis, the current policing minister, would have issued the certificate.

The first is Gordon Anglesea’s high profile.

When he was first named as a child abuser in the early 1990s, he successfully sued four media organisations, including HTV, and accepted damages of £375,000.

Concerns that his success may have been assisted by North Wales Police and fellow freemasons were important factors in the setting up of Britain’s only child abuse Tribunal in 1996.

The £14 million inquiry, headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, expressed “considerable disquiet” about Anglesea’s testimony but decided there wasn’t enough evidence to brand him a child abuser.

The second powerful reason why Anglesea would have been stripped of his pension lies in the nature of his offences.

Three of these took place while he was in charge of the Wrexham Attendance Centre.

This was part of the youth justice system and was a Home Office initiative staffed by serving officers of the North Wales Police.

Anglesea wasn’t just abusing one of the boys at the centre — he was abusing his position as a police officer, abusing the youth justice system and abusing the trust placed in him by the Home Office.

It’s clear Commissioner Jones also felt Anglesea’s offences merited the revocation of his pension.

After Rebecca — and local journalists — asked a series of questions, Arfon Jones issued a statement on January 26:

“I concluded this was a case where the forfeiture of pension was appropriate.”

A great deal of money was at stake.

The pension scheme Anglesea was part of when he resigned from North Wales Police in 1991 was far more generous than it is today.

It was a fully-funded scheme and officers were not allowed to make personal contributions of their own.

For every year of service Anglesea was entitled to one sixtieth of his pensionable salary.

Rebecca understands it could have been worth as much as £25,000 a year.

♦♦♦ 

AS SOON as Anglesea was convicted, there were two reasons why the issue of his pension became a matter of urgency.

The first was public confidence.

Many people in North Wales would find it morally wrong that a paedophile who used the cloak of public office to conceal his offences should be rewarded for his crimes.

(It was, of course, part of Anglesea’s defence that his victims invented their allegations to gain compensation.)

arfonjones

The second was a matter of financial efficiency: if Anglesea didn’t deserve his pension, the sooner he was stripped of it the better.

In the event he enjoyed his full pension — perhaps as much as £4,000 — in the eight weeks he was in prison.

Rebecca investigated further.

We asked the Home Office if Commissioner Jones had applied for the all-important “forfeiture certificate”.

A spokesman told us:

“the Home Office does not comment on individual pension forfeiture cases or requests made by Police and Crime Commissioners.” 

We put a similar question to the Commissioner.

A spokesman said the answer was “no”.

In other words, even though he considered Anglesea should lose his pension, Commissioner Jones did not ask for the forfeiture certificate.

His only explanation was:

“Gordon Anglesea passed away before the process was concluded and the agreement of the Home Secretary was secured.”

He then makes it clear that the decision to grant Sandra Anglesea 50 per cent of her husband’s pension was his alone.

gordon

Anglesea’s death, he said

“meant his wife was granted a widow’s pension …”

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

Rebecca asked if Arfon Jones had consulted the Home Office before making this decision.

Again, the answer was “no”.

The Commissioner says he took legal advice before making his decision.

♦♦♦

WE HAVE written to policing minister Brandon Lewis asking him to issue a forfeiture certificate.

Having decided Anglesea’s pension could be revoked, Commissioner Jones was morally bound to refer the matter to the minister.

The issue of whether Sandra Anglesea should receive a widow’s pension should have been irrelevant.

If Arfon Jones had done his job properly Gordon Anglesea would have been stripped of his poension long before he died – and his widow would have automatically lost her entitlemnent.

♦♦♦

Note
1
The Commissioner would not reveal the details of Anglesea’s pension. It was a fully-funded, final salary scheme but officers were allowed to take a substantial amount as an initial lump sum. The current salary level for superintendents is between £63,000 and £75,000.

COMING
A FORCE FOR EVIL
HOW DID Gordon Anglesea get away with it for so long? 
The answer is he used the cloak of public office to conceal his crimes and counted on protection from North Wales Police. This forthcoming article lays bare the conspiracy hatched at the highest levels of the force in the early 1990s to cover up its failure to investigate child abuse — and to protect Anglesea at all costs. In the process, the force helped Anglesea win a famous libel case and made a mockery of the £14 million North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal …

♦♦♦

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CITIZEN SMITH

September 7, 2016

Note: this article was originally published on the Press Gang website. 

Owen_Smith_head_citizen

ONE OF the most common criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn is that he’s unelectable.

Critics point to the poll ratings, with Labour currently trailing the Tories.

But little attention has been paid to challenger Owen Smith’s electoral record.

In the past decade he and his wife have stood in four elections — all in traditional Labour strongholds.

They’ve lost two of them.

Even when Owen Smith wins, he does so with a reduced majority.

Some voters are not impressed with his style: he was nicknamed “Oily” in one election and arrogant in another.

Is there something toxic about “brand Smith”?

♦♦♦

THREE YEARS ago Owen Smith was the driving force behind a political manifesto.

He co-edited a series of essays called One Nation: power, hope, community.

The Guardian said:

” … a group of the party’s rising stars call for it to end the lockout of local communities from power and to bury top-down statist solutions that have failed in the past.”

It was a time when Labour was searching for a way to appeal to the middle ground of British politics.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband summed it up in the preface:

“… a One Nation Labour Party is a party of the national interest, not one part of the country or any sectional interest.”

In the opening chapter Owen Smith was candid about the problems he faced in his own constituency, Pontypridd in south Wales.

“Membership and majorities are counted carefully now, when once they were weighed. Belief in our mission is dwindling.”

He was also clear about the solution:

“I believe the answer comes in two parts: we need both bottom-up participation and leadership from the top; to simultaneously cultivate our roots and command the heights.”

But he admits his attempt to regenerate Labour grass-roots in Pontypridd isn’t working:

“ … in the three years since I was elected the means to galvanise that engagement has proved elusive and frustrating.”

“This is undoubtedly partly a result of the many previous false dawns that have promised progress but failed to deliver: it’s hard to feel progressive when there seems so little sign of progress for you and yours.”

But he was still confident things could be turned around.

“Slowly but surely, Labour is re-engaging with dialogue in our communities, and developing new common objectives and solutions that will prove the real foundations for our rebuilding.”

Part of the strategy was a move to bring greater democracy to the party:

“Iain McNicol [Labour’s General Secretary] has been leading reforms in the party aimed at building a more open and inclusive movement.”

Labour leadership challenge
BACK TO THE FUTURE?  
THREE YEARS ago Owen Smith was praising Labour for “… leading reforms in the party aimed at building a more open and inclusive movement.” But it was not until Jeremy Corbyn stood for leader that membership began to rocket — from under 300,000 to more than 500,000. Ironically, the party’s National Executive Committee have now barred some 130,000 recently joined members — most of them believed to be Corbyn supporters — from voting in the leadership election.
Photo: Ben Birchall / PA

In Pontypridd Smith thought he’d found a way to galvanise the community:

“Pontypridd Citizens, which will bring together churches and parties, unions and residents, in order to determine local needs and empower local leaders, is launching this year, taking its cue and its form from similar schemes that are energising communities across Britain.”

“It will mark a new beginning in the politics of Pontypridd, and Labour will be at its heart.”

The organisation should be three years old by now.

But Press Gang could find no evidence of Pontypridd Citizens — and when we asked people in the constituency, no-one had never heard of it.

We asked Owen Smith for an explanation.

He didn’t reply.

♦♦♦

WHEN OWEN SMITH was chosen to be the Labour candidate for the 2006 Blaenau Gwent election, he had no experience of grass-roots politics. 

The seat had a troubled past but the party was expecting it to revert to being a Labour stronghold.

Owen Smith probably thought he had a safe seat for the rest of his political career.

In 2005 popular local politician Peter Law stood as an independent.

A former Labour member of the Welsh Assembly, he’d been barred from standing as a candidate for the general election because the party had imposed an all-woman short-list.

Labour nominated trade union leader Maggie Jones.

Many Labour voters deserted the official candidate and chose the independent.

But Law — already diagnosed with brain cancer — died the following year.

His agent, Dai Davies, decided to stand in the by-election that followed.

Labour strategists felt Law’s death had taken the sting out of the rebellion — and that the faithful would return to the fold.

In the early days of the campaign a poll gave Owen a massive 12 per cent lead.

Labour mounted a huge campaign to retake the seat — spending £56,000 to Davies’ £7,000.

But Smith’s organisation was cack-handed.

Telephone canvassers angered voters when they began calling within days of Law’s death.

Activists were bussed in from all over Britain but they knew nothing about Blaenau Gwent.

Smith himself acquired the nickname “Oily”.

Dai Davies was a well-known political figure who outgunned Smith on many fronts.

One of them was Nye Bevan, the political midwife of the NHS, whose old Tredegar constituency was now part of Blaenau Gwent

Smith claimed Nye Bevan as his hero.

But Dai Davies could trump that.

He was a trustee of the Bevan Foundation, a left-wing think tank formed in his memory.

Smith did not become a trustee of the Foundation until after the by-election.

The result was Dai Davies won a narrow victory — by just 2,488 just votes.

It was a bruising experience for Smith and he decided not to seek the nomination again.

Labour regained the seat in 2010.

♦♦♦

THE LIKELIHOOD is that plans were already afoot to shoehorn Owen Smith into the Pontypridd constituency.

Just before Christmas 2009 the sitting MP, Kim Howells, announced he was standing down as the MP.

Soon after, there were press reports that Owen Smith was ringing members of the constituency Labour Party to make his pitch to replace Howells.

Howells is, of course, an old friend of Owen Smith’s father, Dai Smith but Owen Smith denies that the Howells played any part in his selection.

Smith gained the nomination.

IMG_1090
NEPOTISM HOUSE?
OWEN SMITH’S home in his Pontypridd constituency has an intriguing past. Shortly after he was elected in 2010, the MP paid £285,000 for the north wing of the listed building in Llantrisant. It was previously owned by the sister of former BBC boss Menna Richards who bought the property shortly after she formed an independent production company. She won millions of pounds worth of contracts from the Corporation. It was under Menna Richards that Owen Smith made his breakthrough into television — as producer of the politics series Dragon’s Eye in 2000.
Photo: Press Gang

In Pontypridd Labour was united — but there were other problems.

The Lib Dems, led by Nick Clegg, were riding high in the polls — and they had a well-known local candidate in Mike Powell.

When Labour councillor Glynne Holmes had his picture taken with Powell as part of a campaign to save the Post Office in Llantrisant, he found himself the subject of a disciplinary hearing.

He was cleared but it was a sign of how anxious Labour officials were.

In the end, Smith won by just 2,791 votes.

The Western Mail noted:

“There were relieved faces as Labour held on to the Pontypridd seat.”

Smith polled 14,200 votes — a drop of more than 6,000 on Howells’ figure in 2005.

In the 2015 election, when Lib Dem support collapsed, Smith was able to clawback less than 1,400 of the lost votes.

In the ten years from 2005 to 2015, Labour has lost a quarter of its support in Pontypridd.

♦♦♦

EARLY THIS year Owen Smith’s wife, primary school teacher Liz, decided to stand for election to the Llantrisant town council.

There was a vacancy in the Llantrisant ward where she and Owen Smith had lived for five years.

The Labour Party ticket plus the fact that her husband was the MP were expected to secure her election.

But there was another candidate who was far more active in the town.

Louisa Mills, an independent, had started a local charity and was campaigning for a community garden.

She beat Liz Smith by 320 votes to 273.

Owen Smith may not have been as asset in the poll.

Some residents find him arrogant.

One said:

“He’s risen quickly … due to his PR skills and actually believes his own hype.”

“In my view he cares more about power than he does about using that power to help people.

All of this means Owen Smith and his wife have now contested four elections between them.

They’ve lost two.

In the two elections Owen Smith has won, he has presided over a decline in the Labour vote.

What will happen when the right-wing press goes to work on him?

♦♦♦
Published: 7 September 2016
© Press Gang
♦♦♦

Notes
1
The statistics for Owen Smith’s Pontypridd constituency make disturbing reading for Labour. These are are the number of votes cast for Owen Smith’s predecessor Kim Howells and the share of the poll:
1989   20,500   53%
1992   29,700   61%
1997   29,290   64%
2001   23,000   60%
2005   20,900   53%
From a peak of 64% of the vote in 1997 — the landslide year when Tony Blair became Prime Minister — it was down to 53% by 2005.
Owen Smith hasn’t arrested the decline. The result for the two elections he’s fought are:
2010   14,200   39%
2015   15,600   41%
In the face of a Lib Dem resurgence in 2010 he was lucky to hold on to the seat. And even with the collapse of the Lib Dems in 2015 he was able to retrieve only a small proportion of the Labour vote he’d lost in 2010.
2
This the fourth instalment of this investigation. The other articles are:
Owen Smith: Forged By Patronage and Nepotism?
Owen Smith: A Man For All Seasons
BBC Forced To Correct Owen Smith Profile.
Click on a title to read it.
3
Press Gang editor Paddy French declares personal interests in this story:
— in the 1980s he was the editor of Rebecca magazine which was in competition for a substantial Welsh Arts Council grant. One of the competitors was Arcade magazine and Dai Smith, Owen Smith’s father, was one of its supporters. The council’s literature committee chose Rebecca but the full council overturned the decision — and gave the grant to Arcade
— French is one of the thousands of traditional Labour voters who have joined the party following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader. He will be voting for Corbyn in the Leadership election.
4
The Rebecca investigation into nepotism and patronage at BBC Wales is explored in the articles:
The Son Of The Man From Uncle
In The Name Of The Father?
5
The cover block pic is by Gareth Fuller / PA.

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