Friday 26 July 2019

Wellness scandal; University pair sacked for gross misconduct - updated - Police raids

Later post 10th August;

Mark James' home raided by police 

Update 1st August; 

Police have confirmed this morning that their bribery and fraud investigation centres around the tendering process carried out in respect of the proposed Wellness Village. No real surprise.

So there we are. With the locations of the raids being in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Kent it it all fell together, and we all know which former CEO was behind that tendering process...if you could call it that (see main post below).

The police will not yet confirm which addresses have been raided, but we know that three of them were in Carmarthenshire...

Update 31st July;

Wales Online reports that police officers from Tarian, the regional organised crime unit, have searched eight addresses this morning in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Kent in relation to the bribery investigation. Four of the premises searched were in the South Wales Police force area, three were in Dyfed-Powys and one was in Kent. They've issued this statement;

"Officers from Tarian, the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) for southern Wales, have this morning executed a number of warrants as part of investigation into alleged bribery offences.

"Seven addresses in Swansea, Carmarthenshire, and Kent are being searched with the assistance of colleagues from South Wales, Dyfed Powys and Kent police forces.

"The enforcement action was carried out in relation to a complaint made by Swansea University to the Serious Fraud Office in late 2018, which was subsequently referred to police.

"No arrests have been made during the searches, however a number of documents and electronic equipment have been seized.  The investigation is complex and remains ongoing."

I sincerely hope they've been knocking at a certain ex-CEO's door in Wellfield Road, Carmarthen. If not then it should be their very next stop.

* * *

WalesOnline report today that Swansea University's suspended Vice-Chancellor Richard Davies and Prof Marc Clement have both been sacked with immediate effect for gross misconduct. This follows several months of internal investigations relating to the Wellness and Kuwait scandals.

"It is understood that their suspensions were linked to the proposed £200m Life Science and Wellness Village project at Llanelli, the first business case and funding model for which was seeking £40m in backing from the £1.3bn City Deal for the Swansea Bay City Region...

The architects for that project were Prof Clement and Mark James, who last month stood down as chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council.

A further part of the investigation that lead to their suspensions and now dismissals was a proposed £600m joint venture for a new university and private hospital in Kuwait, involving Swansea University.

That project, in which Prof Clement was identified as being vice chancellor of the university element, was never disclosed to the university’s governing body in its council. Prof Richard B Davies and the former chief executive of Carmarthenshire Council were listed as trustees of the project’s academic board" (Wales Online)

As I said here, the police, and the organised crime squad are also investigating.

As I've said, more than once, the above-mentioned Mark James is also deeply involved. He has lied and blagged his way through this whole sorry scandal.

He oversaw the appointment of Franz Dickmann's Sterling Health, the sole bidder and a company with no track record and £137k in the red, to develop the project. The same outfit he'd already given a secret 'exclusivity agreement' to the year before when they were known as Kent Neurosciences (KNS). Marc Clement had been a director of Kent Neurosciences until a few months before Marky signed them up. As KNS, they had been involved in developing a private hospital in Kent which required a £20m bail out before they scarpered.

L to R; Mrs Dickmann, Mark James, Richard Davies, Emlyn Dole, Franz Dickmann, Marc Clement. Another key player in this scandal from the start was Mark James' number one fan, former council leader Meryl Gravell, who was, curiously, made a director of Sterling until just before they were ditched.

Mark James then becomes involved in the Kuwait scandal as a 'trustee'. This never appeared as a declaration of interest despite the potential involvement of the council. Nor did he ever bother, for that matter, to declare his own extensive property and business interests.

When the s***t began to hit the fan Mark James not only decided to retire but ordered a 'review of the council's procurement process'. And who did he bring in to carry out this little task? A firm of solicitors called Acuity Law who also just happened to be his own personal lawyers. They were, quite simply, providing him with a pre-emptive defence funded by the council.

The City Deal internal governance report was less sympathetic and, thanks to the behaviour of Mark James, Carmarthenshire was stripped of responsibility for governance and audit. The chair of the health board went one further and called him out for what he really was, a compulsive liar without a shred of integrity.

I have been researching and writing about all this for over three years, so as usual, there is plenty of background on the blog if you wish to search. Remember as well that Mr James was also involved in his own tax avoidance scandal, let alone the illegal libel indemnity. Tens of thousands he never paid back. He's used council resources for his own personal interests, and breached a serious undertaking to the council, his employers, over the indemnity, all without a care in the world. When it comes to personal enrichment, he's capable of anything.
He's carried on like this since Boston.

He was, and no doubt still is, a malicious and vindictive bully, a liar, and a thoroughly disreputable character, but for the purposes of the current scandal he should be subject to a full criminal investigation and forensic examination of his affairs. He has been involved from the very beginning.

He can't be sacked or suspended now, he's made sure of that...but he can most definitely be bundled into the back of a police car and hauled off for questioning. 


Redhead said...

Yes! Game set and match! Well done, Jacquie - none of this would have come out without you. The least CCC can do is pay you compensation for telling the truth and exposing the lies.

Lesley said...

You deserve a medal for all the hard work and persistence you put into investigating the machinations of the council. And we ALL owe you a huge debt of gratitude for continuing to keep us informed in spite of everything that has been thrown at you to try to bully you into keeping quiet. Thank you, Jacqui.

caebrwyn said...

@Redhead and @Lesley
Thank you very much.
Mr James, and others, will be held accountable, eventually, and as regular readers will know, not just in relation to the post above. I won't give up until justice is delivered, and will also, of course, continue to keep an eye on things!

ray said...

nice one, jacquie.

caebrwyn said...

The two who were sacked continue to deny the allegations and the ex-Vice Chancellor Richard Davies now claims (to BBC Wales) that the Uni has a 'climate of fear'. The Uni has hit back;
"It is disappointing that Richard Davies has sought to deflect attention from his own conduct and that of others. The university strongly denies his allegations.
"The university did not enter into this process lightly and a thorough and independent disciplinary, in accordance with the university's ordinances, has found there was serious misconduct, resulting in his dismissal."

Meanwhile, in Sauna-by-the-Swamp news, Wendy Walters announced at the City Deal Joint Committee meeting yesterday that a 'mystery University' was very interested in joining in the exciting Wellness fun. Last month I mentioned that an unsuspecting Scottish Uni was being targeted by County Hall. I wonder if they know what they're letting themselves in for...

Anonymous said...

Well it seems that the Scottish University may not want to get involved after all

The fact that an address in Kent was raided certainly suggests that it may be someone to do with Stirling doesn't it (wonder who?) The real question for you is whether one of the Carmarthenshire addresses raided is owned by you know who

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

The truth will out all thanks to you Jacqui.

Redhead said...

Oh let it be so - that your ex-CEO (and your current CEO and Monitoring Officer) are forensically investigated! Bank accounts at the ready .....!

Peter mash Morgan said...

Martin Milan said...

I think it will be interesting to see what the police find now. With this level of interest, you would think that the truth is coming out now.

I do think there is a serious question as to whether or not CCC should be considering whether Jacqui ought to be receiving some compensation here as well.

Aside from basic justice, I think CCC has a golden opportunity to swing to the side of justice. Those opportunities are not as common as you might think...

Anonymous said...

How the "mighty" might fall! We can but hope that there is a truly forensic investigation with NO stones left unturned. Where is all the documentation about the tendering process for the Wellness Centre etc.?So many questions and hopefully ,so many answers.

Redhead said...

So many questions, so many opportunities for cover-ups. CCC should investigate their purchases for industrial shredders and their contracts for paper waste incineration, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

If the forensic audit team are astute enough, God knows what they can uncover.
They need to start at a point that predates the Wellness episode. This is all part of the Pembrey Peninsula master plan, and some of the people that were involved with that and the Park Howard fiasco.
Both Meryl and Mark were heavily involved along with Wendy Walters. Despite the denials made, there was a scheme being cooked up in the background. All linked to the Pembrey scandal and the Leisure Division. If the truth ever gets out there will be hell to pay.

Anonymous said...

Remember what Emlyn Dole said, “This innovative partnership with Swansea University and the private sector is a hugely significant milestone for the Wellness and Life Science Village.

“The Collaboration Agreement, which follows a rigorous procurement process, is a major step forward for a development that will place Llanelli at the heart of global life science and well-being innovation."