Thursday 10 January 2019

Mark James retires...the end of a tyrant

Well, well, Mr James, in a glowing statement from the council, which can only have been written by himself, has announced his retirement, though not until June.

Timing, of course, is everything and with his vision of Wellness crumbling around his ears, and the investigators approaching his office door, retirement must seem a better option than forced gardening leave, or police bail. The net is closing and rumour has it he was told to go.

He may enter the revolving door of local government and reappear somewhere as a highly paid consultant, although I would imagine he's accumulated sufficient wealth, in one way or another, over the past 17 years to retire in luxury. Quite what his golden handshake will be we'll have to see, though I suspect this little calculation was decided some time ago. Anything over £100k (which it will be) is supposed to have approval from councillors, supposed to.

My 'tribute' to Mr James reads somewhat differently. I'll not go back 17 years but you'll recall that his days in Boston, including the allegations of bullying and dishonesty, set the scene for Carmarthenshire.
One of his first ports of call here was the local press, announcing exactly how things would be done now he was in charge, he certainly lived up to that.
Things went downhill from then on. He destroyed democracy, bullied his opponents, helped his friends, and always selected a pliant and weak Leader to do his bidding. Some may even recall the curious incident of the £5000 in an envelope...

As schools and care homes closed, the council press office flourished as, somewhat ironically it turned out, reputation, not truth or transparency, was his number one priority.
With the mindset of a vindictive and vicious control freak, a largely submissive set of councillors, and a legal department he could call his own, he has been able to do as he wished, help out his mates, and take what he wanted. He is a thief and a fraud and will leave the taxpayer forking out for his follies.

There is, as far as I am concerned, much in the way of unfinished business. The seeking of justice and accountability does not recognise the limits of retirement, and personally I'm unlikely to forget Mr James as he has his name on the deeds of my home, and a monthly Standing Order from my bank account.

What really rocketed Mr James to Private Eye-style infamy was his instigation of my arrest for filming a meeting, the libel indemnity and pension tax avoidance scandals. He has repaid neither. When his pension scam buddy CEO Bryn Parry Jones left Pembrokeshire Council the Wales Audit Office deducted his ill-gotten gains from his exit package. They must do the same with Mr James, including the unlawful libel indemnity.

But what about the unlawful libel indemnity? This goes back to 2008 when Mr James in a control freak moment extraordinaire, decided that public money could be used to threaten, silence and sue critics, both the press and the public. This was against the law. It also had all the hallmarks of a slush fund. He has threatened to sue members of the public and councillors ever since, but not, of course, the likes of Private Eye.

Mr James dislike of transparency led to the incident in June 2011. It equates with his theory that anyone who questions his authority, and therefore that of the council, must be a troublemaker and must be dealt with accordingly.

The subsequent libel case, and the counterclaim against me has been widely documented. The judgements will be preserved on dusty shelves, well, online actually, for generations to come. Mr James victory parade was, however, short lived as the WAO finally found its teeth and decided his indemnity was unlawful. And so were the infamous libel clauses, still locked in a suspended stalemate.

This brings us almost to the present day, where Mr James, aided and abetted by Linda Rees Jones and the pliant Emlyn, continues to protect his slush fund. Last year attempts were made to reinstate the suspended clauses. That particular battle is ongoing, earning Mr James another slot in a recent Rotten Boroughs column.

One particularly awful revelation was made in court in 2017 when Mr James was trying to force the sale of my home. In 2012 Mr James had undertaken, in writing, to pay any damages over to the council if he won. This was to sweeten the crooked deal for the blank cheque to countersue. In the 2017 court hearing it was revealed that he'd 'changed his mind', he was keeping it, and could stuff it in the gutter if he chose. Not only had he told a massive lie, this was also a massive breach of trust to his employers but again, nothing happened, apart from another appearance in Private Eye.
This is also unfinished business.

He has gone on to lie to the press about offers to settle then make liberal use of council computers for his own private purposes. A FOI request revealed that eight other employees had been disciplined for the same offence, but not him. He had also tracked councillors emails, and failed to declare his extensive private business and property interests.

The crowning achievement for Mark James CBE was surely his Rotten Boroughs Shit of the Year award 2016. It was richly deserved and is the accolade of a lifetime for which he will never be forgotten.
Mr James used this as part of his failed complaint against me to the police, yet made not a murmur to Private Eye.

This blog has tracked numerous issues but essentially, the faults of this council lay squarely at his office door. From covered-up scandals, to the appalling treatment of whistleblowers, from failed vanity projects to the destruction of democracy, Mr James is guilty.
Regular readers will know that I am not the only one to take this view. And if the 100+ comments on the council's own Facebook post are anything to go by, there are more than I thought....!

He should have been sacked, or locked up out of harms way, long ago, not allowed to avoid censure and retire.

After two years of litigation and a public trial, after more years of court hearings, and all the nonsense with the police, the statements Mr James has provided, courtesy of the taxpayer, and the threats, have shown to me that he is nothing more than a vindictive liar, a bully, a perjurer, a perverter of the course of justice and a thief.

He will not be missed. Good riddance. that Emlyn Dole on the end of his nose?


Anonymous said...

There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see. Mair Stephens and Emlyn Dole have paid gushing compliments to this little dictator who killed democracy and brought disgrace upon this council. Sycophantic flunkies have no place in the running of a local authority. They are compliant and complicit in the disgraceful coverup of many criminal offences perpetrated by this nasty little man. They have played a huge part in the problem many of us have faced. It's time councillors were made aware of their role. They take the money, now be honest and take responsibility for what you have turned a blind eye to.

towy71 said...

Shame he isn't being led out in shackles!

Anonymous said...

Well,well,well.Timing speaks volumes. Doesn't it...

So there is some glimmer of light at the end of a very long tunnel for CCC. Unless it turns out to be a train heading their way driven by his replacement of course! It will be most interesting to see just who His Lordships replacement will be and what he/she actually stands for.

Well it's tarra and close the door behind you on the way out with a big collective sigh of relief. I can hear the popping of champagne corks in the air. The glowing tributes from his fan club do not make palatable reading. I also think the electorate need to wake up big time and ensure that Cllr Dole ends up very much reliant upon his namesake and gets his P45 via the Ballot Box. Anyway, well done Jacqui in all your endeavours I do think that you have had a very large part to play in things. Maybe there is renewed hope for you that one day soon you will get redemption and settlement so that you and your family can get on with your lives. I hope the news has cheered you. It will be very interesting to see how his future pans out wont it?

Take Care A.

Elderly Neil. said...

Brilliant Jacqui. You have expedited his departure without a shadow of a doubt.
Methinks Carmarthenshire's next C.E.O will need the same standards of morality
as yourself. Methinks you would have done a great job in that position.
carmarthenshires' loss.

Anonymous said...

During MJ's time, I think we should remember that the constitution required a motion to have 7 seconders; to enter the public gallery you had to sign in; the public gallery was locked as was the fire door; and you had to use a internal phone if you wished to leave the gallery. Also, Any Other Business was removed from council meeting agendas.

Redhead said...

BRILLIANT -and due in no small measure to your tenacious search for, and dissemination of the truth! Strip him of that OBE or whatever it is and give it to Jacquie - the REAL hero of this sorry scandal.

Anonymous said...

Swansea City deal - not going well
4 suspensions
1 retirement
2 official reviews

And its only midway through January

Whats to come : Brexit / chaos and more job losses

What are our top politicians doing ?

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to MJ's successor this should be an experienced CEO with a successful track record possibly having skills in community and democracy

Not any of MJ's current team who will only carry on his legacy and I am sure some of them are already eyeing up the opportunity

Think ahead councillors and cast your nets wide with proper due diligence

caebrwyn said...

Thank you for the comments.

Anon 19:18
Not just sign in, but sign a legal looking undertaking not to film or record a meeting, even children had to sign it. It was appalling.
The filming nonsense continues to this day with members of the public allowed to record only those meetings which the council happen to be webcasting. All the work of arrogant, vicious control freak, Mr James.

It is difficult to cover everything in one post, but it's all here on the blog; the extended rap sheet of this tin pot dictator, and a religious one at that. There will be more to come in due course.

Anonymous said...

1.Lock up your Blue Bags in case someone decides to recycle him.
2. Put Emlyn on the dole.

Anonymous said...

Infamy, infamy, they've all got it infamy.

Anonymous said...

A thorough investigation of his time at Boston, Lincs. would have uncovered his grandiose schemes resulting in the mis-spending of large sums of public money with impunity, in which he promised a financial return to benefit the community. The excellent S4C programme “Taro Nawr” some time age exposed these for all to see. Had the councillors undertaken these preliminary investigations, as they should have done, then no councillor with any concern for the reputation of our county would ever have put him on a short-list, leave alone appoint him! The fact that some of our present councillors have heaped praise on his time (mis) serving this county as its chief executive only goes to re-inforce the fact that these people are completely detached from reality and are themselves unfitted to to be councillors and to represent any of us.

Anonymous said...

The MP's who recently voted for Theresa May's soft Brexit Deal were almost exclusively those Conservatives with extra duties and extra salary gifted by the prime minister.

The gushing comments by councillors since Mark James' retirement announcement come from those councillors whose bank balances have been improved by the extra salary of positions they believe they owe to Mark. Now they are proving how blind their loyalty has been and how well qualified they are to serve the new boss in future times.

caebrwyn said...

I have asked the council's legal services manager to confirm that the illegal pension and libel indemnity cash will be repaid by Mr James before he leaves. I'll let you know if I have a response...

Anonymous said...

Lets make sure he leaves in a barrage of complaints and criticisms of his actions and listings of all his failings and white elephant projects that the taxpayer of Carmarthenshire will long have to pay for into the future

Lets also make sure there is no successor from his current team and that there is a clean break from the past

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with the comments of "Anonymous at 11.34" that under no circumstances should any present employee of CCC, particularly those appointed during MJ's "reign of terror" be allowed to apply for the Chief Exec. post - nor should any of the Councillors involved in his short-listing or appointment be allowed to have any involvement of his successor.
The net to find his successor needs to be drawn as widely as possible - not confined just to Wales, but nationwide to try to get the very best this time (and not the worst!)
When a short list is drawn up, full details of those applying should be made public and published so all can have access to this information. This information should include full educational qualifications, full employment history (who with, details of successful and outstanding achievements if any - etc).
Needless to say the remuneration offered needs to be reasonable (not excessive, as before) - certainly no higher than the AVERAGE REMUNERATION paid to the present chief officers of Welsh authorities and certainly no higher than any government junior minister.
The information should also be published for those who will be responsible for approving the appointment. After the debacle of the last appointment, my trust in local councillors being involved and making an appropriate choice is at an all-tine low!

Redhead said...

Here's an idea - why not let voters choose a new CEO from a shortlist!

Anonymous said...

The word on the street is that there are two particular internal candidates in the running, the appointment will be made by a committee of councillors and the prevailing attitude is that it's better to have an insider rather than an unknown outsider (look what happened last time!). This is, of course, just gossip - but it has a ring of truth.

caebrwyn said...

Anon 19:58
Yes this seems likely, possibly one of the two mentioned in the comments on my previous post.

Anonymous said...

but tainted by the same brush?

Anonymous said...

It seems MJ wants to control who his successor is - I wonder why

By limiting the candidates to internals it will be same old same old with the appointed person being dependant to Dole and MJ for their opportunity

With the shambles of the Swansea City deal / Tory cut backs still in the pipeline what Carmarthenshire needs is a steady hand a person with experience to guide the council to better times

Anonymous said...

The two obvious contenders for the top job carry baggage. They are tainted by conforming and accepting the culture of threats if anyone dare to question. Councillors have been silenced and officers not able to carry out their responsibilities without intereference from this wretched man, with both candidates content to allow this dictatorship, that by its very nature destroys democracy. We need a fresh face - with a sound and proven background of objectivity and fairness.

caebrwyn said...

The process for appointing a new CEO, or an interim, is outlined briefly in the council's constitution here
However, as we know, the constitution has many interpretations, including the Mark James Version, which, amongst other scams, enabled him to illegally bankroll a libel case, and even appoint the Monitoring Officer, with no reference to councillors.
I agree with the comments that the appointment should not be internal, this is not only an opportunity to break the toxic culture but to restructure the eye-watering pay scales of senior officers, including the new CEO.

Whilst we speculate on a replacement, Mr James must be held to account, not least of all for the Wellness scandal. Retirement is no barrier to criminal investigation, nor, for that matter is it a barrier to justice for those whose lives he has set out to destroy...

Meanwhile, the Swansea City Deal Joint Committee meets on Thursday and includes the terms of reference for the UK government investigation. One of the questions it asks itself is;

"Has sufficient due diligence been undertaken in relation to all aspects of the financial proposals, particularly regarding the capital and revenue affordability of all projects, including the sourcing of non-Government funding, the undertaking of an appropriate level of financial probity and investigation into the track record of key participants and promoters of the projects?"

The answer, of course, is 'no'. And the Presidential Suite at County Hall is the first place to look.
We still await news about the Wales Audit Office investigation into the council.

Anonymous said...

Its becoming clearer by the day that a successor must be a candidate independent from what has gone on before

If an internal is chosen or fast tracked in and then becomes involved in the reviews going on into the Swansea Bay City deals etc. then that will not be the restart Carmarthenshire needs

Councillors need to think ahead (if that is possible)

Anonymous said...

You're being overly optimistic Anon @ 13.43 in expecting councillors to think at all, let alone ahead.

Anonymous said...

I have always maintained that preaching and going to chapel or church does not make you a Christian.
Mr.Dole has certainly confirmed my thoughts.
I have more Christianity in my little finger than he has in his entire body.
Give it some thought Mr.Dole.