Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Police call off investigation - updated

The following statement has been issued by the police this afternoon;

“On January 30, 2014 three Public Interest Reports were published by the Wales Audit Office into matters relating to Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire County Councils. Following this, Dyfed Powys Police decided that the matters should be investigated ‘in the public interest’ to ascertain whether or not any criminal offences had taken place.

"Due to the close working relationships and partnership arrangements that exist between Dyfed-Powys Police and both local authorities, it was not appropriate for the Force to carry out the enquiry. As such, the matter was referred to Gloucestershire Constabulary who agreed to undertake the investigation.

"Gloucester Constabulary have now completed their enquiries and have confirmed that following an objective and independent analysis of the evidence, they did not find any evidence to suggest that any criminal offences had taken place. On the basis of this, the police will be taking no further action in relation to these matters.

"Both local authorities have been advised of this decision.”

The South Wales Guardian has reported on the announcement. (Update 4.15pm; all local media have now reported the news).

No indication has yet been given by Carmarthenshire Council when, or if, Mr James will be returning to work other than that he will be meeting with council leader Kevin Madge to discuss the matter.

Plaid Cymru politicians Jonathan Edwards MP and Rhodri Glyn Thomas have issued a joint statement which can be read on the SW Guardian site here; County Hall affair could have been handled better

The pension payments and the libel indemnity both remain unlawful of course.

I will provide further comment with regards to Carmarthenshire when I have digested this astonishing news.

..and here's my further comment;

To be clear, I am not questioning the decision of the police though I will be making a request to see the full report of their investigations.

I would like to remind readers of some of the reasons why a criminal investigation was prompted in the first place.

I'll confine my comments to the unlawful libel indemnity.

The report to the Executive Board when the indemnity was granted in January 2012 grossly misrepresented the legal advice obtained in 2008 and withheld significant information from that 2008 advice, and the advice of the Wales audit Office.

The Wales Audit Office strongly advised that independent legal advice should be sought specific to the case in question before the indemnity was granted. This was ignored and the only specific legal advice came from the lawyer representing Mr James in his counterclaim.

Mr James took part in the decision making process in which he had a clear financial interest. He did not declare an interest and remained in the meeting. Whether or not he spoke in that meeting is unknown and immaterial.

He, and the acting head of law, Linda Rees Jones corresponded three days prior to the Executive Board meeting with regards to the content of the report.

Following the auditor's findings, the indemnity was stopped and the clause in the constitution which allowed it, suspended.

Whether any of this constitutes criminal activity, the police do not believe so. With regards to whether there were wilful and deliberate actions taken, or not taken, to prevent proper scrutiny and ensure that the indemnity went through, again, the police do not believe so.

I take a very different view but that, of course, is only my honestly held opinion.

The outcome of the police investigation doesn't change the fact that both decisions in principle and in process, were unlawful.

And there's a lot more where that came from....


Anonymous said...

Well, Cllr Kevin Madge is apparently delighted that the police have dropped the investigation and meeting Mr James to discuss the future.
Mr James may be back but does he want to stay with us?

Wavell said...

Or maybe more important, do we want him to stay with us ?

Redhead said...

So it's ik in CCC but not in Pembrokeshire - puzzling to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the pension payments should have been refered to the Inland Revenue, htey have the power to prosecute.

Anonymous said...

@Redhead the police have called off their investigation into CCC and Pembs. You may be thinking about what's happening in Caerphilly, in which case, yes, puzzling.

Anonymous said...

I've said this before on the blog, although I'm appalled by the pension arrangement it's very different to the Caerphilly scenario. In Caerphilly the officers hid their salary increase (allegedly), in carms and Pembs it was accounted for in the statement to annual audit, where caebrwyn found it and referred it to the auditor.

caebrwyn said...

@Anon 20:27 I'm not sure it was actually accounted for in CCC Statement of Accounts. What I saw was a rise in the CEO salary of £16k+, there was no explanation that the increase was the pension 'pay supplement'.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Well, very disappointing. I can only think the evidence itself wasn't strong enough to warrant the risk of the case not succeeding, and the associated costs. The defence, after all, has thus far been the best our money can buy, hasn't it? And it has been a defence in advance of (alleged?) wrongdoing. The whole matter stinks. I guess it may be a matter for the ombudsman. Plus - what about gross misconduct? A complete breakdown of the trust essential in the relationship between employer and employee.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 21:58 -
Are you suggesting the matter be passed to the 'Ombudsman (we don't really care, don't have any powers, and can't really do anything anyway) for Wales'?

Anonymous said...

"Gloucester Constabulary have now completed their enquiries",
just in time for the euro elections and the returning officers to get on with the job, how convenient.

Anonymous said...

It comes as no surprise that the Glos Plod found no wrong doing, it took then so long to get off their bums and
Move in the whole crime scene (so to speak) could have been wiped clean. They might aswell as invited Mr James
To run the investigation himself.

I’m sure if they had Jess Fletcher on the case it would have been a different outcome, “Yes detective I found the hidden evidence in the archive room covered in Mould, luckily I’m a Scarlet’s fan so as per the Councils unwritten code of practice I was able to go, look and do whatever I wanted.”

Anonymous said...

“I hope that everyone will now accept the outcome of this totally impartial investigation and that we can all return to focusing on what matters most – providing good quality services for the Scarlets.”

Anonymous said...

Unlawful but not criminal. Explain

Anonymous said...

Unlawful is civil, illegal is criminal. Civil amounts to procedure and defective decision processes, criminal relates to theft or misappropriation of public funds which probably couldn't be proven as the money came from James's own pension contributions.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12.30 The libel indemnity didn't though.