At the end of June this year former County Councillor Sian Caiach emailed the new Plaid Cymru leader of Carmarthenshire County Council, Darren Price with a few questions relating to the Wellness scandal and particularly the email between Mark James and Marc Clement. The questions, you would think, were reasonable enough.
Did any council legal personnel offer advice on the project, including the 'discretionary trust' mentioned in the email; Can he confirm that, as the project is still ongoing, no one else is coining it in in a likely manner? (in so many words) and when exactly did the Plaid administration know the contents of this email and that their chief executive officer was lining his own pockets? (again, in so many words)
To date, Darren Price appears to be unable or unwilling, to answer these questions.
We will try again. Maybe it needs to be expressed in simpler terms.
So here's an open email which one hopes might get a response:
To: Cllr Darren Price - Leader
Dear Cllr Price
I write partly in reference to an email sent to you on 29th June 2022 from Dr Sian Caiach. After resending the email she eventually received an acknowledgement from your office, but no reply to her questions. We presume therefore that you actually read Dr Caiach's email.
I must also presume that you, even as a backbench Plaid Councillor at the time thought something was seriously amiss with the Llanelli Wellness Village. In fact, this whole sorry business happened under Plaid Cymru's watch.
In light of this could you clarify exactly when and how the Plaid Cymru administration realised that the chief executive officer at the time, Mark James, was corrupt and accepting bribes from the then developer of the project?
Did the Plaid leadership ever challenge Mark James when the suspensions at the University were announced, and the criminal activities involving himself were exposed?
Was the council's legal department giving him advice? If so, what was it?
What is your reaction to the judgement from the recent employment tribunal Marc Clement & Mr S Poole v Swansea University and the email correspondence arranging to set up a secret trust to funnel off funds for their own benefit, between Mark James and Marc Clement?
For ease of reference, I repeat that email here, and the relevant extracts from the judgment.
"Appreciate you are in China, but I thought I would share a few thoughts on this. Under the discretionary trust there is no absolute guarantee that you or I would actually ever get the shares, as the trustees have complete discretion who they give them to. So I suspect it would not provide an assurance for the future. This might be resolved by a separate document from the trustees Franz and Phyllis [of Sterling Health] creating in essence a secret trust in favour of us. Or a self declared trust, eg that they hold in favour of us and all we have to do is take up the positions of chair/CEO within a set period.
"This is what one might term a second best legal option. Alternatively we can go back to the solicitor for further advice on how to ensure legally that the intended shares do come to us as soon as we crystallise a particular requirement, eg taking up posts. I would appreciate your views before we respond to Franz."
(Mark James to Mark Clement Oct 2018)
"One specific email which Ms Sen Gupta had originally intended to include amongst the documentation, and to raise with the First Claimant, was the email from Mr James to the First Claimant on 24 October 2018, referred to at paragraph 99 above. That was on the direction of the police, who were planning to arrest a number of individuals, including the First Claimant and Mr James, and to seize documents from them. The police were concerned that if the Claimants were made aware that the Respondent was in possession of the particular email, then Mr James could be "tipped off" that the police were planning on taking action against him"
"She confirmed that her view was that the email strongly suggested that the First Claimant regarded Mr Dickmann's proposals about future roles and equity as genuine, as did Mr James, and they took them seriously. She contrasted that email to the email exchange between the First Claimant and Mr James on 10 July 2018 in which they appeared to be trying to distance themselves from any arrangement which would be regarded as improper for a Carmarthenshire or University employee to enter into, and which she noted she considered to be "self-serving".
"There was also evidence in the form of Mr James' email to the First Claimant in October 2018, when Mr James indicated that he was concerned that the trust provisions did not sufficiently protect him."
We are all aware of the outcome of the police investigation which was that evidence of criminality was found, this email being the key evidence. The CPS decision not to continue was because the director of Sterling Health, Franz Dickmann was too ill to testify.
Therefore I would like your comments on the above and why, when it was blindingly obvious that something was seriously wrong from the very beginning, the Plaid Cymru leadership continued to rubber stamp every dodgy decision.
Was it because the former leader Emlyn Dole was too deep in the pocket of Mark James?
When exactly did Ms Wendy Walters, in her previous role as deputy chief officer and Director of Regeneration, become aware of any inappropriate arrangements?
How can County Councils such as Carmarthenshire be prevented from wasting UK City Deal public money, and indeed 'levelling-up' funds, on fraudulent schemes to line the pockets of senior council officers?
How safe is the re-incarnation of the Wellness Village, Pentre Awel as it is now known, from the same corruption if Plaid Cymru allowed it to happen before?
The people of Carmarthenshire, and indeed the taxpayers' of Wales deserve some openness and honesty from Plaid Cymru over this whole affair.
It is unbelievable that no internal inquiry was carried out by the administration given the actions of the former chief executive and the police investigation, all of which almost scuppered the whole Swansea Bay City Deal.
The two Swansea University employees were sacked for gross misconduct, for failing to declare interests.
Have the council pursued Mark James, before or since his 'retirement', about his failure to declare the same interests?
You know full well that the council were being told the truth about Mark James on this very blog, long before, during, and after this particular scandal. He was, and is, a crook.
You, as leader, owe me an apology.
Now is your chance to respond.
I would be grateful for an acknowledgment of this email, which I have also published as an open email on my blog.
I look forward to your full reply.
Wendy Walters - chief executive
Cllr Rob James - Labour group leader
Adam Price AS
David T C Davies MP
Andrew RT Davies AS
Mark Drakeford AS
Numerous previous posts include: Mark James - caught red-handed - the email and the secret trust, Operation Koel