Thursday 4 March 2021

Mark James - off the hook again?...Updated with revised statement from the police, and one from Swansea University

Update 9th March

Statement issued today from Swansea University on the internal investigation and police inquiry. 

Here's an extract, with my emphasis. And as we know, the "number of others" includes Mark James.

"Marc Clement was dismissed for having a serious conflict of interest which he failed to declare to the university. Along with a number of others, Marc Clement personally stood to receive significant amounts of money through a substantial equity share in the Sterling Health company, which would have part-owned the Wellness Village venture, as well as employment in the company. The share Marc Clement expected to receive was substantially larger than the university – his employer - was due to receive as a partner in the venture. Marc Clement admitted to expecting to receive this substantial equity share during the investigation. 

The university was satisfied at the time that the correct course of action was to dismiss Marc Clement for this significant undeclared financial interest, which he had admitted to, and is still entirely satisfied this was the correct course of action. Whilst the CPS may have decided it is not in the public interest to prosecute this case, the evidence compiled by the university will obviously come out during the employment tribunal, which will take place in the public domain, should the individuals still wish to proceed."

Link to press release here

Update 8th March

The police have issued a revised statement this afternoon;

There was evidence of potential criminal offending identified and secured against individuals and companies subject to this enquiry and this was submitted as part of the file of evidence to the CPS who subsequently made their decision that it was not in the public interest to proceed with any prosecutions"

That's a big change in tone, it's very significant, and as I said below, I believe the police had plenty of evidence. We know exactly who the 'individuals' are, and we know the 'companies' were Sterling Health and it's assorted sister outfits.

In light of the revised police statement the BBC have asked the CPS if their decision not to proceed was because of a lack of sufficient evidence or on different grounds.

Whatever happens now, it'll all come out, eventually.


The fraud and bribery investigation into the Wellness Village seems to be over. 
The CPS have reviewed the file submitted by Tarian, the organised crime squad, and have said that there was insufficient evidence of criminal conduct and concluded that it was not in the public interest to proceed with the case. A case, it has to be said, which would have taken several years. 

They found that the "correct procurement guidelines were followed and overseen by specialist law firms". 
More on one of those specialist law firms further on.

I have of course written numerous blogpost about all this, and followed every development since 2016. 

I have also come to a very different conclusion to the CPS. 

I also understand that the police did too.

For all the details, please take a look at some recent blog posts including Wellness Scandal - How did it happen?, Tangled webs, Wellness scandal - Swansea Uni sticking to its guns.

The investigation centred around the council’s tender for the Wellness Village development in Llanelli, which became a City Deal project. The suspects in the case were in line to gain millions from the deal.

You’ll recall that former CEO Mark James was particularly insistent that Kent based company Sterling Health were signed up to develop the £200m project. This was despite the company having no proven track record, £137k in debt and a previous development which required a £30m bail out. 

He was so keen he signed them up twice, once in their earlier incarnation as Kent Neurosciences.
By 2017 he was telling them what to put in their tender submission.

As the whole shady deal began to fall apart, Swansea University pulled out as partners, eventually sacking Professor Marc Clement and vice-chancellor Richard Davies, amongst others, for gross misconduct over their involvement in the Wellness Village. It was at the point when the Uni staff were suspended that James made his move to 'retire' from the council. 

Details and allegations began to emerge that Frank Dickmann, the Director of Sterling Health, had been offering jobs, homes and shares to various individuals.

As I said, Mr James was, inexplicably, very determined to appoint Mr Dickmann.

It also emerged, late in 2019, that James, Clement, Davies and Dickmann were planning to develop a private medical school in Kuwait. This arrangement was also referred to the police. James was a trustee, and never declared it to the council.

With the police investigation underway, Sterling now ditched, and the shit heading for the fan, Mark James brought in a law firm to ‘review’ the council’s (his) role in the Wellness tender, in other words, to provide himself with some sort of defence, paid for by the council, should things take a nasty turn. This is the law firm I mentioned earlier in this post.
To ensure he got the result he needed he brought in Acuity Law who, remarkably, just happened to be his very own personal solicitors. It was staggering that no one at the council dared to even try stopping him.

Meanwhile, the arrogant and dishonest manner in which Mark James was running the Swansea Bay City Deal was giving grave cause for concern, in fact, he nearly collapsed the whole £1.3bn deal. Two damning reports were published, Mark James’ role was 'deleted' (he’d hastily announced his retirement by then), Carmarthenshire Council was stripped of key roles and Linda Rees Jones was removed as City Deal Monitoring Officer.

James left the council in June 2019, pocketing his cash from his previous rap sheet of illegal legal costs and a pension tax avoidance scam, for which he’d also been investigated by the police in 2014. 

Then, like now, he got away with being caught with his hand in the till.

                                                                       Mark James

A few weeks later, in July 2019 the news broke that eight addresses had been raided by the police and computers seized. The addresses included the home of Mark James, former leader Meryl Gravell, and deleted data was seized from County Hall. An address in Kent was also raided.

A treasure trove of evidence was seized.

Early in 2020 eight suspects were interviewed by the police, including Mark James who was arrested, but not charged. 

Which, in this long sorry saga brings us up to today’s announcement by the CPS. 

As I have said, and exposed throughout this blog, Mark James is a thoroughly arrogant and dishonest individual and capable of anything to further his own interests, including criminal behaviour. 
The case might have been dropped, but he knows he's guilty, which is something.