Monday, 9 January 2017

'Lumpy carpets' and other comments

Cneifiwr's latest post, 'Undulating Axminster' brings us up to date with the state of play over the Pembrey Country Park scandal. Along with evaluating just how level the Axminster actually is, Cneifiwr also comments on the priority amongst some corporate bodies, and one in particular, towards reputation management rather than openness and honesty. I have covered the progress of the emerging scandal in Pembrey several times and, as Cneifiwr points out, was reported to the police early last year by the chief executive for my reference to 'lumpy carpets'.

As a footnote, and as I didn't refer to Mr James personally wielding the broom, his complaint to the police, which I suspect was drafted by a media lawyer rather than a criminal barrister, included a reference to a stock photo, and reads thus;
"This post contains a photograph of a man sweeping something under a carpet.  Mr James believes that any reasonable reader would associate the reference to “lumpy carpets” with the phrase “sweep under the carpet” with its associated implication that the carpet hides something embarrassing that he didn’t want people to know about."

I am reminded of a couple of other allegations to the police which, in Mr James's view, constituted criminal harassment and which, in my view, certainly do not.

Prior to the Police Commissioner and Assembly election in May 2016 there was something of a cock-up over the postal ballot papers, Mr James was the chief Returning Officer and the incident was widely reported at the time. More to the point, electors had contacted me because they were confused over the postal ballot papers.

Within the post I had made this comment, subsequently reported to the police by Mr James as evidence of criminal harassment;
"The Returning Officer, Mark James, is no stranger to controversy of course and it was only a couple of years ago that Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards called for 'ministerial intervention', questioning whether Mr James should preside over the European election whilst on gardening leave during the criminal investigation following the unlawful payments scandal.
Earlier, in 2012, there was controversy over an 'advance payment' of £20,000 to Mr James for the local elections, a payment made before the number of contested seats were known, and in the previous financial year."

It remains unclear whether Mr James reported Mr Edwards to the police for harassment in 2014, or those who flagged up the returning officer fees in 2012. I suspect not.

Interestingly, recent controversy over the blocked Notice Of Motion put forward by Cllr Alun Lenny, with the curious reasoning that it might constitute contempt of court, has led to several suggestions, here and there, whether the role and remit of Head of Administration and Law/Monitoring Officer, Linda Rees Jones, includes sheltering the chief executive with an occasional legal umbrella.

I suggested that this might be the case back in March when Ms Rees Jones refused to consider a complaint I had made following the chief executive's remarks, to the Western Mail, falsely accusing me of lying over offers I had made regarding the damages from his unlawfully funded counterclaim.
Given her involvement in every aspect of the case so far (and since), it seemed odd that she suddenly decided that the matter was 'private'.
My comment, in the same vein as that umbrella effect, was also reported to the police.

As per the format of the harassment warning I received back in August, the police made no judgement as to whether Mr James's complaints were worthy of not only their own time, but also the council resources and facilities it took to cobble them together. However, they were happy to issue it, and the warning still stands and could be used in court should Mr James make further criminal allegations.

In effect the warning is akin to a high court injunction against legitimate comment concerning the business of a local council, without the accused being able to dispute or formally counter the allegations.

And, unlike the accuser, I am not in the position of having a publicly funded legal department at my disposal.


Teifion said...

If only the Police appeared a bit more eager to investigate their "sister organisations" we'd all feel a little better about Dyfed Powys Police

Anonymous said...

Trouble is when it comes to any Police Force, or any other Organisations for that matter, it really is a case of they really are 'all in it together'.