With two recent mentions in Private Eye's Rotten Boroughs, Mark James scores a hatrick in the latest edition with an honourable third. That's without Mr James' numerous previous appearances which can all be found on this blog. And Plaid Cymru must be bursting with pride with Emlyn's new found fame...
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As mentioned above, the last Private Eye article related to the Wellness Dream, slowly sinking into the Delta Lakes swamp.
Mark James, and the currently suspended Marc Clement, have been the two key players of the project, and in it from the start, with Kent Neurosciences/Sterling and the Dickmann clan. The suspended Uni vice chancellor, Richard Davies recently alleged that it was Franz Dickmann who offered another Uni official shares, a discounted house and a job.
The secretive manner by which the council, aka Mr James, appointed KNS, then Sterling, makes one wonder why he was so determined that Mr Dickmann signed on the dotted line...
The 'exclusivity agreement' in 2016 with KNS didn't suddenly pop up overnight. Mr James, along with dutiful former council leader Meryl Gravell, and Prof Marc Clement, who, until late 2015 had been a director of KNS, engineered the deal. Meetings with the company had been held in private and the deal signed and sealed before it got anywhere near a councillor. Apart from Meryl, but she doesn't count.
The deal wasn't renewed in 2017 and KNS subsequently dissolved and, Sterling, with net liabilities of £137,000 were, unbelievably, signed up by Mr James and co in 2018. Sterling, and Kent Neurosciences were, essentially, the same outfit. There were no other bidders. A 'robust procurement exercise' it most definitely wasn't...
Meryl Gravell was made a director of Sterling, until they were ditched, and it wasn't, with respect, for her business acumen. Who made her a director is anyone's guess but, given her undying loyalty to Mr James, she would have been, shall we say, a useful influence on the Board..
|Mark and Meryl...|
Who knows, perhaps it was the inability of bickering Swansea Uni officials to keep any alleged cosy arrangements or sharp practice under their hats that actually blew the deal as far as our Mr James was concerned.
The misleading nonsense, and outright lies he told councillors at December's meeting made him look like a desperate, cornered rat.
Mr James should be suspended immediately whilst the various investigations, including the UK Government, are carried out. Despite still being the City Deal 'Accountable Officer', neither he, nor the Accountable body, the council, can even lead the Joint Committee's own internal investigation of the Wellness scandal given their conflicts of interest.
In fact, due to the Wellness scandal, the whole City Deal is now under investigation.
Incidentally, I have asked the Wales Audit Office for the details of the scope of their investigation into the council's decision making relating to the project. The council have already commissioned their own external lawyers, at unknown cost, instructed, no doubt, to save Mr James' bacon.
His retirement was announced at a very opportune moment, the net is closing in. He should be personally investigated, preferable by the police, and not just over the Wellness deal, and his finances and tax affairs need to be forensically dissected.
As for the secret report on the unlawful libel indemnity mentioned in the Eye article, this featured in the December edition here. The secrecy continues... and six months after the CRWG meeting I am still in the process of trying to obtain both the officer's report, and the minutes. .
In the meantime, I have asked Ms Rees Jones, as the senior legal officer, whether Mr James will be repaying the illegal payments, both the libel indemnity and the pension tax avoidance scam, totalling around £60,000 back to the council before he leaves. I've yet to receive a response. (update; it was a 'no')
I've also asked the Wales Audit Office, as it is they who made the unlawful findings and issued the two public interest reports back in 2014, whether they will insist that the money is repaid. I reminded them that it was they who insisted that former Pembrokeshire CEO Bryn Parry Jones paid back his unlawful pension scam cash before he went.
I have mentioned all this on the blog many times, not least of all in my previous post, Mark James retires - the end of a tyrant. The illegal indemnity, and all it entails, is one of those issues which will not go away, retirement or not...
For background to all this please, as ever, search this blog.