Saturday 11 May 2019

City Deal; The 'potentially defamatory' letter...the row continues

Please see previous post; Health Board Chair slams Mark James over City Deal for background

Back in March, as above, I blogged about an explosive letter from the Chair of ABMU health board Andrew Davies to the Joint Committee of the City Deal questioning the truth of statements made by Mark James in this whole sorry saga and the scandals surrounding the Wellness Village.

The letter included reference to the Nolan principles, or rather the lack of them. In fact it cites all seven principles of public life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and promoting these principles through leadership.
In particular, the letter focussed on integrity, and all breaches related directly to Mark James.
The letter was leaked to the press.

True to form, Carmarthenshire Council started threatening legal action claiming it was seeking legal advice as the contents of the letter was 'potentially defamatory'. As it was, according to the council, 'potentially defamatory' of Mark James, it wasn't clear just who was going to sue, nor who was going to fund it.
Whether this was just noisy legal posturing isn't clear, but Plaid council leader Emlyn Dole, ie Mark James, has penned a bitter response to the Chair, and leaked it to BBC Wales.

Cllr Dole has accused Andrew Davies, who was previously a Labour minister in the Welsh Government, of trying to cause "as much trouble as possible" rather than ensuring that plans for the Wellness village progress, he dismisses his claims and describes his comments as "a remarkable attack on the Chief Executive of our County Council".

Councillor Dole, or rather, Mark James, was also outraged that the Chair's letter had been released to the press, (...and duly leaked Cllr Dole's response to it to BBC Wales...)

Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones has even joined in the row and said that Andrew Davies'  intervention could be interpreted as a political act and questions why he did not raise concerns directly with Carmarthenshire County Council. (Really?!)

Mr Davies told BBC Wales that his letter was not politically motivated, and his only concern was highlighting the transparency (or lack of) of the City Deal and making sure "things are done right ". adding that the recent damning internal and external governance reviews had supported his concerns. Too right they did. He made it clear he was chair of an impartial Health Board, which, as a City Deal partner, sought to raise concerns about governance.

In my view, the letter from Mr Davies was spot on, and refreshingly forthright and honest.

As I have pointed out throughout recent months, and indeed years, Mark James is a compulsive liar, he has not only misled the City Deal Board, but his own council.
And not just, of course, over the Wellness village and the City Deal, he's spent seventeen years cultivating his toxic power trip which started, allegedly, in Boston.

There was no political motivation for the letter, this is a typical accusation used against anyone who says anything untoward about Mr James, or his current 'ruling' cabal, in County Hall, it doesn't wash in the wider world where, to be honest, neither Mr Davies, nor Labour, would have anything to gain. Nor would he have anything to gain from causing 'trouble' for the sake of it.

Cllr Dole's outrage that the letter was leaked to the press is equally remarkable, hilarious even, given that the notorious sham report prepared by Mark James' personal solicitors, Acuity Law, was also leaked to the press.

That leak, in my opinion, could have only come from Mark James himself.

Clearly Emlyn 'two barns' Dole is happy to take the bullet, again, for Mark James. His unwavering defence of the tin-pot dictator, and willingness to act as a paid mouthpiece, suggest again that he owes his position as leader to Mr James, in return for his astonishing u-turn over those illegal payments and his support to reinstate the unlawful clauses...and goodness knows what else.

In what capacity he has responded to Mr Davies is unclear, as a spokesman for the entire council, or leader of the Plaid group, or Mr James' bodyguard? If the accusations were against Mr James, why didn't he respond? Then again, I suppose Emlyn has his uses...just like Meryl. The next stage of the defence will come on Monday when the Exec Board PR machine, complete with a report blaming everyone else apart from Mark James, 'considers' the governance reports.

As for a 'remarkable attack on the chief executive', let's have a look at Mr James' recent rap sheet.

He's been involved and implicated in the Wellness fiasco from day one. He was behind the scandalous appointment of Kent Neurosciences aka Sterling, even claiming that Sterling were up to the job when other officers of the council were having serious doubts, and his close association with the suspended academics at Swansea University goes way back to the inception of the project leading up to his equally scandalous, and undeclared venture in Kuwait.
The appointment of his solicitors, Acuity Law to provide nothing less than a publicly funded personal defence, was the pinnacle of self-serving arrogance.

Furthermore, the police are now involved.

The recent governance reports, the ones not under the control of Mark James, give a damning indictment of the governance of the Deal, and conclude, in so many words, that neither he, nor Legal Linda and co are fit for purpose.
This catastrophic failure was one I predicted over a year ago, they gave the job to the wrong man, and the wrong council and this has irreparably damaged not only trust, but the progress of the Deal. Neath Port Talbot's recent threat to pull out of the Deal is a case in point.
Hopefully the convenient retirement of the wrong man, and a major shake up of the Deal will ease the long and expensive path to repair.
Just as long as they don't use Ffynnon Consulting Ltd as their management consultants...

The threat of legal action by 'the council', whether they were bluffing or not, is, of course, very interesting and deeply concerning. I asked Linda Rees Jones to elaborate on the matter, and also whether this legal advice was being sought from Acuity Law, which would be very concerning, on so many levels.
I reminded her that a council cannot sue, and neither can they fund Mr James to sue either.
She was predictably cagey, insisting that they could quite happily fund Mr James if they so desired but "As regards the ABMU Chair’s letter I have no instructions in the matter". 
I should think not. Though it would be useful to Mr James if they could kindly cough up the cash just before he retires though wouldn't it...

At the risk of repeating myself, Mr James should have been suspended months ago, he is in it up to his neck. He should be investigated by the police whether he's at the council or not. Likewise, he should not be allowed to retire without repaying the illegal tax avoidance and libel indemnity payments, these amount to nothing less than fraud and theft. He is a thoroughly dishonest and untrustworthy individual and should have been sacked when those scandals emerged. Mr James' priority is personal enrichment, nothing else.
It is a disgraceful indictment of the law, Welsh Government and his employers that he has been allowed to get away with so much and for so long.
However, as I have said, I will pursue him to ensure he is held to account, retirement or not.
And, unlike Mr James, I keep my promises.


Anonymous said...

Yet again we get an insight into the murky world of Carmarthen County Council and the actions of the soon to depart CEO Mark Vincent James. Is it any wonder that the general public has lost faith in Government, Councils and those elected to serve the people. The clue is in the title "Public Servants". They are there to act in the best interest of their constituent members. With the imminent arrival of a new CEO one can only hope that the long-standing culture " like mushrooms,keep them in the dark and feed them plenty of s---" will finally be over. Democracy and Accountability must return. The actions of the Leader of the Council,"Rev"E.Dole with his unstinting support of M.V.James have to be questioned. His position has become untenable and he should seriously carry out some self-examination as to wehther he has acted in the interest of the public or at the whim of M.V James.

Elderly Neil. said...

Well done Jacqui.
Your relentless pursuit of this evil little man has sureley nailed him.I am in absolute awe of your prodiguous research. Methinks your abilities would have been of great benefit to Carmarthenshire had you been a councillor particularly in tandem with Sian Caich. A benefit lost to us all.

Anonymous said...

No doubt, when Mr James has departed, we will hear councillors tell us how hard they battled against his 'excessive' ideas.

caebrwyn said...

As I mentioned in the main post, the two damning governance reports were on the Exec Board agenda yesterday, or rather, an officers' report was on the agenda with the two reports attached.

True to form, it was the officer's report, which 'explained' why Carmarthenshire Council was, contrary to the reports, blameless, which was dutifully mumbled through by Emlyn Dole.

Just to ensure the point was driven home there was an angry outburst from Mark James, blaming everything, and everyone else apart from himself, including the two governments.
Some partners were 'difficult', he said, and one of the partners didn't want the Deal to go ahead AT ALL, there were people "going out of their way" to "make sure it didn't happen", "for their own selfish, petty reasons".

Which partner, or people, he might be referring to we can only guess...I understand it was Neath Port Talbot with their irritatingly honest reports, but you could take your pick from anyone who has been 'petty and selfish' enough to challenge the veracity of Mr James'statements, or questioned his integrity, or those curious appointments and fanciful projections in the Wellness project, or that little sideline in Kuwait..
Anyone, in fact, who has asked anything more searching than the proposed colour of the paintwork.

It is, of course, his own vanity project, the Wellness Village which has caused all the problems and delays, and now involves the police. It is his secretive, arrogant and dishonest style of governance, creating an atmosphere of mistrust, along with the expectation that the public partners were required to prop up his pet project, which has, to be blunt, p****d everyone off. As for petty and selfish, he need look no further than the nearest mirror.

In my view, the two governments were correct to err on the side of caution....Mr James' idea of 'due diligence', was, for reasons best know to himself and his mates at the Uni, to appoint a firm with a questionable track record and £137k in net liabilities to develop a £225m project.

He also claimed the council could go it alone with the Wellness Village, borrowing the dosh and paying it back wouldn't be a problem, not at all! "hugely manageable" in fact....said the man due to retire in a fortnight and set up his own consultancy.
The council already has a debt of nearly half a billion with £20m in interest payments, but as with the stadium in Boston, and the one in Llanelli, the taxpayers can bail out the disasters, no problem there...
He also mentioned that we were still one of the most deprived areas in Wales...which doesn't say a lot for his 17 "successful" years at the top then really.

caebrwyn said...

Excellent coverage of both the row over Dole's letter to the Chair of ABMU, and the attack on one of the partners by Mark James in this week's Carmarthenshire Herald. The newspaper points out that in his attempt to completely alienate one of the partners, he didn't even have the guts to name which one.
This week's Cadno opinion piece, bidding a fond farewell to Mr James is also excellent, and will be on the blog in a couple of days.

Anonymous said...

Cllr Dole is an absolute disgrace on many levels and unfit to be Leader of CCC. Take just one example - his Code of Conduct in part - 3. Integrity and Propriety....Members must not put themselves in a position where their integrity is called into question by any financial or other obligation to individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in their performance of their duties. Members must on all occasions avoid the appearance of such behaviour. He falls at every fence. He has no respect for this Code nor the Nolan Principles. He preaches Christianity as well. He should do Plaid a huge favour and resign.