REVIEW — UNTOLD: THE DANIEL MORGAN MURDER EXPOSED

May 18, 2017

 

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Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder Exposed
Alastair Morgan and Peter Jukes
(Blink Publishing, hardback £14.99, ebook £9.99)
Reviewed by Paddy French

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ONE OF the reasons why the 1987 murder of Daniel Morgan has not been properly covered by Britain’s national media is the fact he was part-Welsh.

After nearly two decades involved in this story, I’m convinced Daniel’s Welsh background is a significant factor.

His father John — a native Welsh-speaker from Pontardawe — was wounded and captured at Arnhem in World War 2.

After the war he was commissioned a captain and posted to Singapore.

There he met Isobel and their two sons, Alastair and Daniel, were born in the British colony.

Daniel was premature and there were problems with one of his legs.

John Morgan resigned his commission to bring him back for treatment in the newly-created NHS.

The family lived for many years in Llanfrechfa near Cwmbran.

John, who had worked as a coalminer on his return from Singapore, died of emphysema at 41.

Daniel didn’t reach that age.

He was just 37 when he was axed to death in the car park of a south London pub.

The private investigator was married with two small children.

The prime suspect has always been Daniel’s business partner, Jonathan Rees.

One of the Scotland Yard detectives who investigated the murder, sergeant Sid Fillery, was kicked off the inquiry when it emerged he was a close friend of Rees.

Within a year Fillery retired — and stepped into the dead man’s shoes as Rees’ new partner.

Both were finally charged in 2008 — Rees with the murder, Fillery with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The case collapsed.

For three decades the scandal was under-reported, especially in the broadcast media.

Just compare the hours of television devoted to another south London murder — that of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

One reason for this, I’m convinced, is Daniel’s Welsh connections.

The evidence is compelling: between 1987 and 2004 the only serious television documentaries on the murder were made by the Welsh current affairs strand, Wales This Week.

England — and especially London — has always had a problem with the Welsh.

It’s hard to put your finger on what it is exactly.

Partly, it seems to be indifference — “they’re not the same as us and some of them even talk another (foreign) language” sort of attitude.

FINAL BOOK JACKET

For some, though, there’s an active dislike of the Welsh — captured in the saying: “Taffy is a Welshman, Taffy is a thief.”

By the time I joined Wales This Week in 1999, the series had already made several programmes on the murder.

I picked up the baton and went on to make several more programmes.

In 2004 I helped persuade our sister series at ITV London to carry out a joint investigation into the murder — the first time an English broadcaster had taken any interest.

I got to know — and admire — Alastair Morgan and his partner, BBC journalist Kirsteen Knight, for their relentless dedication to securing justice for Daniel.

They’re ordinary people who have dedicated their lives to a single cause at an unimaginable cost.

The results, though, have been extraordinary …

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THE BOOK published today is the fusion of two projects.

For many years Alastair has been writing a book on the saga but there never seemed to be a natural end.

For example, the independent inquiry into the murder commissioned by Theresa May in 2013 — and chaired by Baroness Nuala O’Loan — has yet to publish its report.

Then author, screenwriter and playwright Peter Jukes became interested in the murder as a result of his research into the hacking scandal.

Jukes had chalked up a first with his crowd-funded live-tweeting of the dramatic Old Bailey trial of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks in 2014.

When he realised the prime suspect in the Daniel Morgan murder case, Jonathan Rees, was also a major player in supplying illegal information to the News of the World, he was hooked.

The result is the award-winning Untold podcast — co-produced with Deeivya Meir — which has attracted more than 4 million listeners around the world.

That success — it was iTunes Best Podcast of 2016 — persuaded Peter Jukes and Alastair Morgan that a book was timely.

The result is a forensic account of a scandal that has tarnished the reputation of Scotland Yard, added another sorry episode to the history of the Murdoch press – and shamed the establishment into action.

It reads like pulp fiction — a dark tale of bent cops, murderous criminals,
unscrupulous hacks, self-serving police chiefs and devious politicians.

But it’s all true.

In nearly 400 pages, the book charts the unfolding scandal with Alastair — and his partner Kirsteen Knight — telling the chilling story from their point of view

Peter Jukes takes up the narrative between the sections of their personal testimony.

It’s a format that works well: the style is crisp and the result is an important book about the interaction between organised crime, corrupt police and illegal journalism.

Of course, some of the story still remains untold — after thirty years of twists and turns, it’s clear there’s more to come.

One area, for example, that has never been explored is the role of freemasonry.

Rees and Fillery were masons yet virtually nothing is known about their masonic connections.

The only criticism I have of Untold is the lack of an index — it means the book cannot become the work of reference it deserves to be.

Hopefully, the updated edition promised after the report of the Daniel Morgan Inquiry Panel is published, will add one.

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NOTES
1
The sister website to Rebecca — Press Gang — has reported extensively on the murder. See the Daniel Morgan page for more information.

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EDITOR’S LOG — CHANGES

May 8, 2016

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YOU’LL SEE there are changes to the site today.

Rebecca Television becomes just Rebecca.

And this new personal column is introduced.

Why the changes?

Well, there haven’t been any TV programmes since the three produced in the website’s early years.

I’m sad about that because television is a powerful tool in the armoury of investigative journalism.

And, having previously worked for the ITV series Wales This Week where programmes normally cost around £10k for 23 minutes, the Rebecca videos weren’t expensive.

But Rebecca doesn’t generate the money needed to produce them.

Another problem is politics.

Two of the three programmes that were produced had to be withdrawn because they infringed ITV Wales copyright.

I acknowledged this — but hoped that, since ITV Wales had never been interested in the material, they wouldn’t mind me using it.

Or, at least, allow me to use it for a fee.

However, someone at ITV in Wales or London took exception to a critical programme about Ofcom Wales director Rhodri Williams.

This included an interview with Williams’ former boss filmed by ITV Wales but never broadcast.

ITV insisted the interview be removed — and wouldn’t even allow me to pay for the use of it.

(For those of you who’re interested, the battle with ITV is told here and the material that was censored is in the article A Man Of Conviction?)

The fall-out of this was that another programme also had to go.

It also used an interview that ITV Wales had never broadcast.

So, with just one programme surviving, it’s time to call it a day.

The second change is this Editor’s Log which gives my views rather than those of Rebecca.

This needs a little explanation — after all I write everything that appears on the site.

The fact is Rebecca articles operate to very high standard of evidential proof.

In a major Rebecca investigation readers need to have a large amount of accurate information to test the editorial line being advanced.

This is not to say these pieces are “impartial” — such a thing does not exist.

But, readers should have enough accurate information to make up their own minds.

This column allows me to say things from my personal point of view.

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TOMORROW, Rebecca begins the long analysis of the Macur Review.

This is the government’s judge-led examination of the work of the 1996-1999 North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal.

Rebecca now has the figure of how much this exercise cost: £3 million — all of it to be paid for by the Ministry of Justice.

Was it worth it?

Rebecca says it wasn’t — and there’ll be a raft of articles to say why.

But here I want to say something about my involvement with the Review.

When David Cameron announced the Review in 2012, I thought “perhaps this time the judiciary will get to the bottom of what happened”.

There’s always the suspicion the exercise is going to be a con — just a sop to show concern and then produce a whitewash.

But, if you’re trying to find out the truth, you have no choice but to hope the process will be an honest one.

So I spent some two weeks preparing long statements — and then flew to London to meet Lady Justice Macur.

In the end, of course, it was all smoke and mirrors: she produced the suspected whitewash.

I have to say, though, I felt compromised by the whole process.

And, of course, the report is a gift to the conspiracy theorists.

A judge is persuaded to take on the dirty job of protecting the establishment — and then, a few months later, gets appointed to the Court of Appeal.

This is the elite of the judiciary — just 42 strong, bringing with it the equivalent of a knighthood and membership of Her Majesty’s Privy Council …

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BUT IT turns out to be a lot less simple than that.

Lady Justice Macur may have produced a whitewash — but she does seem, bizarrely, to have had a conscience about it.

Yes, she clears the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal and says its conclusions were correct.

And, yes, she also stoops to a shoddy and shameful handling of the Rebecca material.

But, having protected the conclusions of the Tribunal, she then lays into the Tribunal chairman, Sir Ronald Waterhouse.

By the time she’s finished with him, his reputation is in tatters.

She uses mild language but the sentiments are brutal.

She does this in two ways.

She provides an enormous amount of new information — and then condemns him for the way he either handled or ignored it.

The result is a whitewash that, strangely, provides ammunition for the Tribunal’s opponents — including me.

She even makes this point more or less explicitly.

On page 18 of her report, she states baldly:

“Where there is information that runs contrary to my conclusions, I have reported on it.”

The result is a report that is full of new and valuable information — some of it is sensational.

I can’t ever remember reading anything like it …

PADDY FRENCH

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Published: 8 May 2016
© Rebecca 2016
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ITV BID TO GAG REBECCA TELEVISION

September 1, 2013

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A  MAJOR battle is taking place between the broadcasting giant ITV and Rebecca Television.

Lawyers acting for ITV have given Rebecca Television until today to remove from the website a controversial interview which the company suppressed ten years ago.

The interview was given by Ron Jones, chairman of the independent television production company Tinopolis.

Jones revealed the extraordinary background to the abrupt sacking of the company’s co-founder Rhodri Williams back in 2001.

Jones accused his former partner — now Wales Director of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom — of acting dishonestly.

The interview was first made public in our programme Hidden Agenda and the article A Man Of Conviction? published last year.

Lawyers are also insisting that even the information contained in the interview belongs to ITV and that none of it can be used.

This is censorship — and Rebecca Television will not accept it.

HIDDEN ONCE, HIDDEN TWICE, HIDDEN THREE TIMES The dramatic story behind Rhodri Williams' sudden departure from  the company he helped to found was suppressed in 2001, again in 2003 and now ITV want to hide it again.  Photo: Ofcom

HIDDEN ONCE, HIDDEN TWICE, HIDDEN THREE TIMES
The dramatic story behind Rhodri Williams’ sudden departure from the company he helped to found was kept secret in 2001, suppressed in 2003 and now ITV wants to bury it all over again…   Photo: Ofcom


ON JUNE 17 this year ITV wrote to Rebecca Television (RTV) giving the website seven days to remove all trace of a celebrated interview.

The company want the interview — with the independent producer Ron Jones — removed from the programme Hidden Agenda.

The interview took place in 2003.

It dramatically revealed how Rhodri Wiliams, the current Wales Director of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, came to be sacked from the production company Tinopolis in 2001.

Williams was dismissed for dishonesty after allegedly diverting business from Tinopolis — then called Agenda — to a competitor.

Williams denied acting dishonestly — he said at the time the allegation was “defamatory and libellous”.

The interview with Ron Jones was carried out by the ITV Wales current affairs programme Wales This Week in 2003.

At the time Rebecca Television editor Paddy French worked for ITV Wales and was the producer in charge of the proposed programme.

It was never broadcast.

Later in 2003 Rhodri Williams was appointed Wales Director of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

(The story of the suppression of the interview in 2003 is told in the article A Licence To Censor.)

In April 2012 Rebecca Television finally used the Ron Jones interview in the preparation of the programme Hidden Agenda and the article A Man Of Conviction?

More than a year later ITV lawyer John Berry said that ITV’s “attention had been drawn” to the use of the material.

“The video Hidden Agenda in particular includes and relies heavily upon previously unbroadcast footage filmed for Wales This Week and owned by ITV.”

“As you are no doubt aware, the making of a copy of a copyright work and the communication of such a work to the public without the permission of the copyright owner is contrary to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act of 1988.”

Berry demanded that ITV’s material be removed within seven days and noted “we reserve all rights, in particular our right to bring legal proceedings against you including but not limited to those relating to breach of confidence and infringement of copyright.”

The deadline was eventually extended to September 1.

On June 24 RTV editor Paddy French emailed a reply.

He pointed out that ITV Wales had never shown any interest in the Ron Jones interview.

(The tapes sat on his desk until he left the company in 2008 and took them with him.)

RON JONES ITV are goig to extraordinary efforts to remove Gave  an extraordinary interview to ITV Wales  in 2003

RON JONES
One of the founders of Tinopolis, the Llanelli-based television production company. He gave the interview in 2003 but it was nearly a decade before it entered the public domain.  Photo: Tinopolis

He stated: “there is as powerful a public interest in this material seeing the light of day today as there was when it was filmed.”

“There is an argument that this material was censored back in 2003 and that … this present attempt to remove this material leaves the company vulnerable to the accusation that it is acting as censor.”

♦♦♦ 

ITV did not respond to this email. 

On July 2 French emailed ITV again.

This time he pointed out that, although ITV was concentrating on removing the material relating to Rhodri Williams, there was other ITV copyright material on the Rebecca Television website.

This included part of another interview which had never seen the light of day until RTV included it in the programme A Touch of Frost.

This video, which was first published  in April 2011, includes part of an ITV interview with a man called Des Frost.

“A key part of his testimony was not included in a 1997 Wales This Week programme because the Waterhouse child abuse Tribunal threatened contempt proceedings if it was broadcast.”

But the Tribunal did not call Frost as a witness and never heard his claims that he reported child abuse to the police ten years before they began investigating.

Paddy French had worked on this 1997 programme as a freelance investigator.

“There was no objection to the use of this footage by ITV Wales … in 2011.”

A Touch of Frost took on a dramatic significance last November when the BBC programme Newsnight allowed Stephen Messham to falsely imply that Lord McAlpine was a paedophile.

This led to the government ordering a new police investigation and a review, headed by Mrs Justice Macur, into the way the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse had carried out its task.

French added: “I immediately alerted ITV Wales to the fact that the company held what was now highly significant archive material. This resulted in a new Wales This Week programme which went out last November.”

“As part of this process I was able to reveal that I had met Sir Ronald Waterhouse back in 2000 to discuss the Frost material. This gave ITV Wales several exclusive stories.”

“I say all this,” French went on, “to emphasise the mutuality of the relationship between ITV and RTV.”

“Without my knowledge, ITV Wales would have missed the fact that they held valuable archive while my long-term interest in the issue proved invaluable to the station.”

“In conclusion, I would say that this is a highly unusual position.”

“For ten years I was a conscientious employee of ITV Wales and since I have left my expertise has come in useful on several occasions …”

“I believe that an agreement whereby I am allowed to use the ITV Wales material for a nominal £1 payment would satisfy the company’s interests.”

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Again, ITV did not reply.

Instead, the company instructed the London solicitors Olswang to take up the issue.

On July 30 the firm wrote to RTV, dismissing the suggestion that ITV allow the use of the material for a nominal £1.

“ITV has not and will not in the future provide you with permission to use the ITV property …”

Olswang also dismissed the public interest argument: “there is clearly no public interest in broadcasting material which you have obtained without consent from our client and which raises no current issue of public importance.”

“In fact, it is apparent from an article featuring on the website entitled A Licence To Censor, which states that you and Rhodri Williams fell out in the 1980s, that rather than you being motivated by public interest concerns, you in fact have personal motivations for wanting the ITV property relating to Rhodri Williams to be published.”

(French denies this — see the discussion of the issue in the article A Licence To Censor.)

MYSTERY Rhodri Williams started his public career in 1996 when he was appointed a member of the Welsh Language Board. In the period 1996-2004 he would take home a total of more than £180,000 in fees and pension contributions. Photo: Rebecca

Mr REGULATOR
Rhodri Williams leads the Welsh arm of the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. He’s a well-connected man: his wife Siân’s best friend is former Labour AM Delyth Evans who is the partner of Ofcom boss Ed Richards. Both Evans and Richards once worked for Gordon Brown.  Photo: Rebecca Television

Olwang added: “Your claims that ITV is acting as a censor are also without foundation, as ITV is simply trying to protect its rights in the unbroadcast ITV property.”

The firm has now demanded that all other ITV material be removed from the RTV site.

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THE UPSHOT of this legal wrangling is that Rebecca Television has no choice but to remove the physical ITV material from the website.

“There is, and never was, any doubt that ITV owned the copyright to the material,” says Paddy French.

“I had hoped the company would turn a blind eye because it was embarrassed that it had never broadcast some of the material.”

“For several years, this is what seems to have happened.”

“Now, for reasons that are unclear, it has decided to act.”

“It is interesting that ITV’s main interest is in the Ron Jones interview that damages the reputation of the Ofcom Wales Director Rhodri Williams.”

This means that the programmes Hidden Agenda and A Touch Of Frost have been temporarily withdrawn for re-editing.

Other material has also been removed, including the well-known doorstep where former Anglesey County Councillor John Arthur Jones called Paddy French a paedophile.

Originally, this appeared in the article The Gospel According to “Jesus” Arthur Jones.

♦♦♦ 

But that’s not the end of the matter.

Olswang also insist that “ITV is also the owner of the confidential information in the unbroadcast ITV property…”

The use of this information “is clearly a breach of confidence.”

“The article entitled A Man Of Conviction? which is based on and quotes from the Ron Jones interview should therefore also be removed from the website.”

“This is unacceptable to Rebecca Television,” said French.

“It’s a clear attempt to censor information already in the public domain — and which belongs in the public domain.”

Rebecca Television will not be complying with this condition.”

“The fact that the company is making such a determined effort to remove all trace of the Ron Jones interview suggests that other, deeper forces may be at work here,” added French.

This is not the first time RTV has faced legal demands for the withdrawal of articles.

In July three senior Welsh Rugby Union figures — chairman David Pickering, chief executive Roger Lewis and communications chief John Williams — instructed solicitors to threaten legal action if the article A Licence To Censor was not taken down.

The article told the story of the censorship of a damaging business profile of Pickering back in 2006 by ITV Wales director of programmes Elis Owen.

In the article WRU Big Guns v Rebecca Television, RTV refused to axe the article.

So far, we have heard nothing from Pickering, Lewis, Williams or their solicitors.

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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COMING UP

With two television programmes temporarily withdrawn for re-editing, Rebecca Television will shortly publish the next video — Brothers in the Shadows. It’s a dark tale of a vicious murderer in North Wales who groomed a vulnerable young girl and formed a paedophile ring to sexually exploit her. One ring member was a retired police detective who claims he was persuaded to join the gang by a fellow freemason…  


WRU BIG GUNS v REBECCA TELEVISION

July 22, 2013

rebecca_6aTWO OF Welsh rugby’s most senior figures have accused Rebecca Television of defamation.

Lawyers acting for WRU chairman David Pickering and chief executive Roger Lewis claim an investigation into censorship at ITV Wales libelled them.

They say the article accuses them of acting to prevent a documentary about Pickering’s financial affairs from being broadcast back in 2006.

They demand a retraction and an unreserved apology.

Rebecca Television rejects these allegations. There will be no apology.

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

DAVID PICKERING
The WRU chairman has instructed solicitors to take action against Rebecca Television. Photo: PA

MORE THAN a year after it was first published, WRU officials David Pickering and Roger Lewis have finally responded to the Rebecca Television article A Licence To Censor.

Along with the WRU’s communications chief John Williams, they have instructed solicitors to take action against the website.

In a four page letter, the Cardiff law-firm Hugh James say the three men consider the entire article to be defamatory.

The article revealed that an ITV Wales This Week programme into the personal financial affairs of WRU chairman David Pickering was axed in May 2006 on the orders of then programme controller Elis Owen.

At the time Roger Lewis was ITV Wales’ managing director and John Williams was head of news.

Lewis was appointed chief executive of the WRU in September 2006.

Williams became head of communications at the Union in December 2006.

Hugh James now claim that A Licence To Censor also means “there were strong grounds to suspect that Mr Pickering caused ITV Wales to censor the channel’s planned coverage of his financial affairs …”.

Their letter also states that the investigation also means that “there were strong grounds to suspect that Mr Lewis and Mr Williams together helped to suppress the Pickering programme on a corrupt basis” partly because “each man either had obtained or hoped to obtain senior and lucrative employment with the WRU.”

“Our clients require you to withdraw these allegations and to apologise for them unreservedly …”

In his reply, sent to Hugh James today, Rebecca Television editor Paddy French rejected the claims — and declined to offer an apology.

“The article A Licence To Censor was a forceful indictment of censorship at ITV Wales in 2006,” wrote French, “but it criticised only one individual — Elis Owen.”

“And, while it condemned him for censoring a Wales This Week programme — for which I was the producer — it was quite specific about what he’d done wrong.”

“At the time I directly accused Owen of ‘noble cause corruption’ — censoring the programme for what he thought was the morally justifiable reason of protecting the commercial interests of ITV Wales.”

“There was no question that he acted to advance his own personal interests. And there was no suggestion that he acted as a result of pressure from anyone else.”

“The article also makes it clear that Roger Lewis rang Bruce Kennedy, the executive in charge of Wales This Week, to make it clear he was not interfering in the editorial process.”

ROGER LEWIS Was the Managing Director of ITV Wales when the Pickering programme was axed. There's no evidence he was involved in the decision. Photo: PA.

ROGER LEWIS
The WRU’s chief executive has also instructed solicitors to take action against Rebecca Television. Photo: PA

“It follows that, if Elis Owen acted alone and Roger Lewis took no part in the proceedings, that David Pickering can have had no say in the fate of the programme.”

“Consequently, the article cannot carry the meaning that Pickering, Lewis and Williams suggest.”

“As a result, Rebecca Television has no need to apologise to the three men.”

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DAVID PICKERING also claimed that the article defamed him by saying he was in “financial disarray”.

Rebecca Television accepts the article makes this claim but believes it is factually accurate.

Pickering had two county court judgments against him and many of the companies he was involved with had gone bust owing millions of pounds in unpaid VAT and tax.

Pickering’s lawyers also dispute that Pickering misled the media over the true state of his business activities.

They seize on one passage in A Licence To Censor.

The article contains these three paragraphs:

“Thirteen months later, in July 2005, another five companies went under with debts of nearly £5 million.”  

“This time Pickering told the Western Mail that “the great majority of the money was owed to associated companies and not third parties.”   

“This was untrue. The five companies owed £2.8 million in unpaid tax and VAT.”

This summary is misleading — and conceals a more complicated picture.

Pickering’s comment was made in May 2006 in an article about the failure of a surviving company called R & R Group to submit accounts on time.

Pickering said that although the company “had a substantial deficit, the great majority of the money owed was to associated companies, and not third parties.”

However, Pickering did not acknowledge that part of R & R Group’s problems were caused by difficulties at its subsidiaries.

Two of these R & R Group subsidiaries had gone bust in June 2004 with massive losses.

They had chalked up combined debts of nearly £3 million of which close to £1.4 million was accounted for in unpaid VAT and tax.

In July 2004, in a Western Mail article about the failure of other companies to file accounts on time, Pickering  stated: “I’m involved in eight or nine companies and all of them are up and running.”

“They are all in different cycles, but there are no problems.”

A year later five of these companies went under with debts of nearly £5 million of which unpaid tax and VAT accounted for £2.8 million.

Rebecca Television will revise this passage of A Licence To Censor to make it clearer” French wrote to Pickering’s solicitors, “but we stand by the claim that he did not give an accurate picture of his financial affairs to the media.”

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ANOTHER extraordinary claim made by lawyers acting for the three men is that the proposed 2006 Wales This Week programme was not editorially sound.

They insist “there was a consensus that it lacked interest and importance”.

The “information about Mr Pickering’s financial affairs was largely old news …” and “there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by him”.

A Licence To Censor does not accuse Pickering of any wrongdoing,” French told the lawyers, “but the claim that the information about his financial affairs was largely old news is nonsense.

“ITV’s chief news reporter Andy Collinson and the man in charge of Wales This Week, Bruce Kennedy — as well as myself — were all convinced it was a valid programme.”

“The crashes of 2004 and 2005 were not reported by national media in Wales and Andy Collinson’s discovery of the substantial county judgments was totally unknown.”

“The poor state of the remaining companies was not generally appreciated.”

The lawyers also say that John Williams now denies that he ever changed his mind about the programme.

A Licence To Censor stated that Williams, who was head of news at the time, had been persuaded by the Wales This Week analysis of Pickering’s plight:

“At the end of the presentation, John Williams — who had not been sure there was a story up to that point — said he was convinced.”
 

“He was shocked at the amount of money Pickering’s companies had lost and he was happy to run a news item on the Friday.”

In April 2012 Rebecca Television sent John Williams an outline of the article.

It included these words: “JW [John Williams] said he was convinced now: he had no idea the debts were so great …”

He did not respond to this email.

When the article was published later that month, he did not take advantage of the Rebecca Television “right of reply” and “corrections” facilities.

Again, the original article will be amended to include his denial.

The article will also be amended to take account of other points made by the three men.

They do not affect the overall thrust of the article.

Rebecca Television stands by it.

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© Rebecca Television 2013

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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO “JESUS” ARTHUR JONES

April 26, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jones told the programme:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC_0995

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the time, Jones was facing criminal charges.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He rejected the application.

♦♦♦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following exchange took place.

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

This is what it looks like on paper:

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

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

Reporter
How do you respond to these accusations?

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

Reporter
How do you respond to these accusations?

John Arthur Jones
Are you a paedophile?

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

John Arthur Jones
Are you a paedophile?

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

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

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

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

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

The doorstep became notorious.

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

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

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

“Jones never apologised for the smear.”

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

The Ombudsman, Adam Peat, reported in December 2006.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This meant that Jones could not sell individual plots.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♦♦♦ 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pritchard was forced to close the site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was especially true in  planning.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Gordon Pritchard believes this is what happened to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of his share went on legal bills.

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

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

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

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

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

He’s the current Director of Sustainable Development.

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

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

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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COMING UP

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


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