A FISTFUL OF COPPERS

April 8, 2013

rebecca_6a
HOW OPEN was Winston Roddick QC in last November’s election for North Wales Police Commissioner?

The millionaire barrister won the election — but was it fair and square?

Why didn’t he level with the people of North Wales about his intention to be a part-time commissioner? Was it because the hourly rate for the job just wasn’t good enough?

And why didn’t he tell voters that he had once been a mason in Wales’ most powerful lodge? Was it because he wanted to secure the masonic vote without antagonizing electors opposed to masonry?

And is becoming police commissioner for North Wales part of his campaign to land a knighthood for himself?

pcc-winston-roddick

WINSTON RODDICK
The 72-year-old barrister has come under fire for not telling voters that he was planning to be a part-time commissioner.

LAST NOVEMBER the outsider won the election to become the first-ever police commissioner for North Wales.

The favourite had been Tal Michael, son of veteran Welsh Labour stalwart Alun Michael.

Tal Michael had held the £85,000 a year position of chief executive of the old North Wales Police Authority which the coalition government had decided to scrap.

His experience of running the old authority combined with his nomination by the Labour machine in North Wales appeared to give him the edge. Plaid were not fielding a candidate and the Tories never stood a chance.

Things didn’t work out the way the Michael dynasty planned.

While the Father duly took the plum post of South Wales commissioner, the Son was well-beaten by Roddick.

Welsh-speaking Winston Roddick, who was born and raised in Caernarfon and has a home in the town, beat him comfortably with a majority of nearly 10,000 votes.

Labour, not surprisingly, hit back at Roddick after the election for standing as an Independent when he’s always been a Liberal Democrat.

But Roddick’s political leanings would have been known by Tal Michael’s camp and doubtless they made sure electors were well aware of Roddick’s leanings when they went knocking on voters’ doors.

And they may well have brought up the allegation that Roddick’s campaign team attempted to smear Labour’s Paul Flynn in the 1987 General Election. The story is told in Flynn’s book Unusual Suspects.

Roddick was the Liberal candidate in the Newport West constituency when his campaign team circulated a leaflet just before the poll.

It claimed that “Liberals in Newport West believe in campaigning on the issues not the personalities. That is why we have not published the information given to us anonymously by the Conservative Party, that if published, would prove that the Labour candidate, Mr Flynn, is not fit to be an MP.”

Flynn was shaken: “It hit hard. [Leaflets like these] were known locally as ‘yellow perils’. Because of their timing, there was no chance to refute any claims made.”

Flynn later discovered the “information” was based on a 14-year-old press cutting about him being fined for having an out-of-date MOT.

“it was poisonous and imprecise, allowing the voters to invent their own major crime that made me unfit to represent them. The Liberal Candidate, Winston Roddick, subsequently apologised in person for it.”

Flynn won the election comfortably.

♦♦♦

Roddick has also come under fire for not declaring that he would not surrender his lucrative legal practice if he was elected.

The Western Mail revealed in November that it had “written evidence that Mr Roddick considers himself to have a general commitment of two to three days a week” as commissioner.

He told chief reporter Martin Shipton: “I am a barrister. If I am instructed as such, I will decide then whether to accept the instructions.”

He said he would work whatever hours were needed to carry out his duties as a commissioner even if that meant working more than a normal working week.

In 2011 Home Secretary Theresa May rejected a recommendation from the Review Body on Senior Salaries that part-time commissioners should receive a reduced salary.

This allowed shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith to make some political hay at Roddick’s expense.

“Did he tell the voters in North Wales that he was only planning to do a couple of days a week and spend the rest of the time working at the Bar? Or was this, like with his political allegiance to the Lib Dems, something he chose to keep quiet about?”

Roddick has strong views about the correct pay for people of his stature.

In 2008 he wrote to the then Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy to complain about the pay of barristers from legal aid.

The government had introduced legal aid reforms which were cutting the pay of barristers, forcing some of them to give up legal aid work.

“There are 350 barristers working in Wales and Chester of which approximately half undertake legal aid work.”

“They work on behalf of some of the most vulnerable members of society and do desperately important work.”

Roddick told reporters: “I think that the government are offering as low as £79 an hour, which you wouldn’t pay to a plumber.”

Roddick is one of those barristers who has undertaken legal aid work. The most up-to-date figure we have for the level of his earnings is for 1996-97 when the Lord Chancellor’s Office released a list of the top 20 earners from legal aid.

Winston Roddick was joint 11th highest earner with a gross fee income of more than £350,000. Some of this income may have covered work done in previous years and Roddick would have had to pay overheads and other costs out of it.

NORTH WALES POLICEFrom his offices at police headquarters in Colwyn Bay, Winston Roddick QC will control a budget of £xxx,xxx and more than 2,000 police and civilian staff.Picture: Barry Davies

NORTH WALES POLICE
From his offices at police headquarters in Colwyn Bay, Winston Roddick QC will control 2,500 police and civilian staff.  Picture: Barry Davies

Even though he said that many barristers were leaving legal aid work because the hourly rate could be as low as £79 back in 2008, he’s now taking up the Police Commissioner role in 2013 when the hourly rate is just £39 an hour — less than half the rate.

No wonder he wanted to continue with his private practice.

The embarrassment over this issue may account for the delay in the appointment of his deputy commissioner. The deputy may find him or herself carrying out a substantial amount of Roddick’s workload when he is busy with more lucrative employment.

♦♦♦

ANOTHER THING that didn’t surface during the election was that Roddick had once been a member of the most powerful Freemasons lodge in Wales — Dinas Llandaf, based in Cardiff.

This lodge is where senior, favoured  members of the legal profession come together with some of the most powerful Tories in Wales.

The right-wing Stefan Terlezki, who was MP for Cardiff West from 1983 up until 1987 when Rhodri Morgan took it off him, was a member.

Another member is Gwilym Jones, Tory MP for Cardiff North from 1983 to 1997. Jones was a minister in the Welsh Office from  1992 to 1997.

One of the founders, Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards, is the current Provincial Grand Master of the South Wales Province.

Roddick told us he resigned in 1997 “whilst I was a Crown Court Recorder because I felt that there was a growing perception amongst members of the public that membership might compromise judicial independence.”

“My view was that not only should I be  independent but that I should also be seen to be so.”

However, this means that his decision to resign was not taken out of opposition to freemasonry.

There is always the suspicion that the departure is motivated by expediency and that the former mason is really still a “brother” at heart.

Critics say you can take the freemason out of his lodge but you can rarely take freemasonry out of the man.

Roddick joined Dinas Llandaf in the 1970s and by 1983 he was lodge master.

In 1998 he was appointed Counsel General to the National Assembly.

His term of office in the £140,000 a year role came to an end in 2003. He did not rejoin Dinas Llandaf.

The attempt to appoint another member of the lodge, Gerard Elias QC, as his replacement as Counsel General was blocked by then First Minister Rhodri Morgan.

During last November’s election for police commissioner, the fact that Roddick was once a mason was not mentioned in his manifesto. The Wikipedia entry on him is also silent on the matter.

During the election for the position of police commissioner of North Wales, freemasonry could easily have played a substantial role.

The masonic province of North Wales covers most of the North Wales Police area.

Today, there are probably around 4-5,000 masons in North Wales and Winston Roddick’s first round lead over Tal Michael was under 3,000 votes.

The silence over his masonic connections probably did him no harm with the police constituency.

Roddick had worked as a police constable in Liverpool and rank and file members would have been attracted by a candidate who had first-hand experience of their jobs.

However, an overwhelming percentage of police officers do not approve of freemasonry which might have persuaded many not to vote for him.

We asked Roddick if the brotherhood had rallied to his cause and secured him the election. He said the question “borders on the fantastic”.

“It is wild and unsupported speculation and falls far below the line of what qualifies as legitimate journalistic comment.”

“I did not attend or address any lodge meetings, informal gatherings of masons at social or any other function, knowingly meet any mason or any official of any lodge at any time before, during or after the campaign.”

“There is one other point I should also like to make clear and I make it so as to demonstrate that you would not be justified in claiming or even suggesting that my historical links with freemasonry was something you uncovered.”

“I made it public on a BBC radio interview in 1999 that I had been a mason and why I had resigned.”

“It was information I had volunteered to those researching the programme. The programme was a highly popular one and the interview was broadcast twice.”

♦♦♦

WE ASKED Roddick if his decision to run for police commissioner was motivated by the desire to gain a knighthood.

His previous stint as the National Assembly’s Counsel General in the 1990s garnered him only the gong of Companion of the Order of the Bath.

This afternoon his press officer told us the commissioner was in meetings all day: “Many thanks for the opportunity … , however we will not be responding on this occasion”.

NB
THERE IS more information about Roddick and his membership of Dinas Llandaf in the article Brothers in Silk which is republished today.

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

COMING UP

ONE OF North Wales’ most colourful politicians is retiring after more than two decades as a councillor on Anglesey. Councillor Gareth Winston Roberts OBE has a chequered career — he was forced to resign as Leader in the 1990s after the District Auditor delivered a damning indictment of his administration. He recovered to become Leader again in 2006 but was overwhelmed by a planning crisis that saw his coalition swept from power in the 2008 elections. Rebecca Television examines his baleful legacy in Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE.


BROTHERS IN SILK

April 8, 2013

rebecca_6a

THIS IS a tale of three Cardiff barristers.

Two flourished — they became QCs. One has been honoured by the Queen, the other has made his name in major public inquiries.

Both are members of an important legal lodge in Wales.

The third prospered but was never made a QC. He believes this was because he refused to join the lodge.

He took his fight to the European Court of Human Rights but failed.

 

IT’S 1973. For five years Roger Everest has been a barrister at the chambers at 34 Park Place in Cardiff.

Everest is invited by his clerk Ken Gorman to join a new masonic lodge that’s being set up. It’s to be called Dinas Llandaf.

One of the founders of the lodge, Eifion Morgans, is a barrister who will later become head of chambers at 34 Park Place. Morgans is already a past master of another Cardiff lodge, Shir Gar.

ROGER EVERESTThe barrister believes his decision not to join a masonic lodge prevented him from being appointed a QC.

ROGER EVEREST
The barrister believes his decision not to join a masonic lodge prevented him from being appointed a QC.

Another founder is solicitor Sir Norman Lloyd-Edwards who had been a Tory councillor in Cardiff for many years.

Today he’s the Grand Master of the masonic province of South Wales. He stepped into that role in 2008 just as he retired from being the Queen’s man – Lord Lieutenant – in South Glamorgan.

Other well-known Tory members of the lodge have included Stefan Terlezki, MP for Cardiff West between 1983 and 1987 and Gwilym Jones, MP for Cardiff North and a junior minister in the Welsh Office from 1992 to 1997.

Everest decided not to join Dinas Llandaf. Ken Gorman warned him his advancement at the Bar would be affected.

Two other members of the chambers were happy to join the lodge. They were Winston Roddick and Gerard Elias.

When Dinas Llandaf opened for business the first master was the solicitor and Cardiff Tory councillor Julius Hermer.

In 1984 Gerald Elias was made a Queen’s Counsel – a promotion to the inner circle of barristers allowing the letters QC to be added after his name.

It’s called “taking silk” after the material in the gown a QC wears in court. Being a QC opens the way for a barrister to become a judge and with it the eventual possibility of a knighthood.

Roger Everest couldn’t help noticing that there was a masonic connection in Elias’ appointment.

The man who had an important say in appointing QCs in Wales, Mr Justice Leonard, was then presiding judge of the Wales and Chester circuit.

Elias’ appointment was made by the Queen on the advice of Lord Hailsham, then Lord Chancellor, but on the recommendation of the Presiding Judge of the circuit.

Mr Justice Leonard was a mason.

(He was also infamous as the judge in the 1987 Ealing vicarage case where he handed down shorter sentences for rape than for aggravated burglary.)

Two years later, in 1986, it was the turn of Winston Roddick to “take silk”.

Elias and Roddick are well-respected advocates who would no doubt have been awarded silk without any masonic connections.

However, Roger Everest claims that Eifion Morgans, who died in 1987, told him that their advancement was made easier by the fact the two barristers had met Leonard at masonic functions.

Roddick became master of Dinas Llandaf in 1983 and was followed a year later by Elias.

GERARD ELIAS QCDid his membership of Dinas Llandaf accelerate his appointment as a QC?

GERARD ELIAS QC
Did his membership of Dinas Llandaf accelerate his appointment as a QC?

In 1997 Elias was appointed lead counsel to the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal.

A year later Winston Roddick was appointed Counsel General to the National Assembly for Wales.

On his appointment, he resigned from freemasonry and has never rejoined.

In 2003, when Roddick’s term of office came to an end, Roger Everest was intrigued to note that the man nominated for the £140,000 a year job by the Civil Service Commissioners in London was … Gerard Elias QC.

However, First Minister Rhodri Morgan, a Labour politician with an ardent anti-masonic reputation, put his foot down.

Morgan said “I did not register any over-riding objection to the shortlist, although I did comment on the fact that one candidate, subsequently recommended for appointment by the panel, was a prominent freemason.”

“I was, however, prepared to waive my concern on this issue, noting that the candidate was prepared to resign from the freemasonry, as did the previous general counsel on appointment.”

“When the permanent secretary advised me of the recommendation from the panel and I read the full papers, I became aware of information not previously available to me that the recommended candidate was also a board member of the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting.”

Elias had joined the board of the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting ISAH. Another member of ISAH was Sir Ronald Waterhouse, the former High Court judge who chaired the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal of which Elias was leading counsel.

The First Minister vetoed the appointment because “I judged that the legal advice of a Counsel General prominently associated with these two controversial issues would not carry the necessary stamp of untramelled authority throughout the Assembly.”

THE DINAS Llandaf Lodge meets five times a year in Cardiff. The entry in the 2009-10 South Wales provincial yearbook names 34 of the current membership of 40. They are:S R Adam • A A Attard • F G Bottarini • G Bull • D Davies • J A Davies  • G Elias, QC • B M Etherington • S Evans • K T  Flynn, OBE • F A Green • P M M Grimson • J Hermer • E Howells • P S R Jamison • F A Jones • G A Jones • Gwilyn H Jones • G J Jones • M S  Lewis • K P Malloy • P R Marshall, OBE • W G D Morgan • P A L Mount • N H B Payne • P G Powell • J W  Reed • Neil J Richards • J W Richards • N J Richards • J S Sidoli • C M Williams • P M Williams, OBE • C E Yandell

DINAS LLANDAF, Lodge No 8512
THE LODGE meets five times a year in Cardiff. The entry in the 2009-10 South Wales provincial yearbook names 34 of the current membership of 40. They are:
S R Adam • A A Attard • F G Bottarini • G Bull • D Davies • J A Davies • G Elias, QC • B M Etherington • S Evans • K T Flynn, OBE • F A Green • P M M Grimson • J Hermer • E Howells • P S R Jamison • F A Jones • G A Jones • Gwilyn H Jones • G J Jones • M S Lewis • K P Malloy • P R Marshall, OBE • W G D Morgan • P A L Mount • N H B Payne • P G Powell • J W Reed • Neil J Richards • J W Richards • N J Richards • J S Sidoli • C M Williams • P M Williams, OBE • C E Yandell

Elias hit back saying he had never been to a hunt and had joined ISAH because of his disciplinary expertise in cricket. He had offered to resign from the organisation – and freemasonry – if it was felt there was any conflict of interest.

He denied that he was a “prominent” freemason and said he had not been an active mason for seven years.

This statement was made in March 2004. This suggests that he gave up being an active mason in 1997, the year when the public hearings of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal began.

Rebecca Television checked the Dinas Llandaf entries in the provincial yearbooks. In every year Elias is shown as a subscribing past master of the lodge which meant that he continued to pay his dues and remained a mason. He is still listed in the 2009-10 edition.

Elias accepted the First Minister’s decision to veto his appointment but added: “Whether … the First Minister’s personal objections to my appointment are proper considerations, either as a matter of public law, or even as a matter of fairness and justice to a candidate, I leave for others to judge.”

Roger Everest tried to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights but the Secretariat refused to hear it.

Rebecca Television e-mailed Gerard Elias about Everest’s claims. He did not reply.

We asked Rhodri Morgan to comment. He told us he didn’t want to talk about the issue.

WINSTON RODDICK was elected police commissioner for North Wales last November. The article A Fistful of Coppers charts some of the controversy that surrounded his election.  

♦♦♦ 

© Rebecca Television 2013

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

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

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

Donate Button with Credit Cards

COMING UP

ONE OF North Wales’ most controversial politicians is retiring after more than two decades as a councillor on Anglesey. Councillor Gareth Winston Roberts OBE has a chequered career — he was forced to resign as Leader in the 1990s after the District Auditor delivered a damning indictment of his administration. He recovered to become Leader again in 2006 but was overwhelmed by a planning crisis that saw his coalition swept from power in the 2008 elections. Rebecca Television examines his baleful legacy in the article Dirty Rotten Scoundrel, OBE.

 


%d bloggers like this: