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Phil Parry is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.
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Are there really witch-hunts underway?

Words go in and out of fashion but “witch-hunt” is very much in vogue today.

The disgraced former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson; contentious US President Donald Trump‘Your friend’ undertaking a remarkable anonymous computer campaign at controversial Swansea University where a top-level investigation is underway, officials have been suspended and which highlighted issues referred to the police, have all used the term.  Now the controversial Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has employed it as protests grow in the country’s capital against corruption and fraud.

Czech protest
‘We want him out’

Last week about 120,000 Czechs demonstrated in Prague against him in the largest ever anti-Government protest since the fall of Communism 30 years ago.

There have been four demonstrations against the Czech Prime Minister in the last few weeks and each one has been bigger than the previous one.

Viktor Orban and Andrej Babis – the rise of the right?

Mr Babis is facing criminal charges relating to his alleged misuse of £1.5 million worth of EU funds, but he claims the accusations against him are part of a ‘witch-hunt’. Mr Trump says he is victim of a ‘witch-hunt’ as prosecutors continue to investigate his tax affairs, and go on looking into the alleged links with Russians who interfered in his election. Mr Williamson has claimed that the inquiry which led to his sacking had been “a witch-hunt from the start”.

‘Your friend’ also likes the term ‘witch-hunt’

Your friend’ at Swansea University has also claimed:  Why is this witch hunt … still continuing?” before we were the first to report that a SIXTH senior official has been suspended as the probe is conducted.

Mr Babis (who along with his wife and other members of his family are all victims of an alleged ‘witch-hunt’) could face between five and 10 years in prison if he is convicted, and appears to model himself on Hungary’s right wing populist leader Viktor Orban,

Gavin Williamson – ‘witch-hunt’

In the hours after Mr Williamson’s sacking from the UK Government, yet another extraordinary anonymous computer message was sent in the astonishing long-running dirty tricks campaign in which a so-called ‘witch-hunt’ has been alluded to at Swansea University, and which we have been alone among the Welsh media in reporting.

But ‘Your friend’ at Swansea University, who headlined his or her latest anonymous gmail to staff and senior politicians ‘Smokescreen’, said the referral to the police was a ‘waste’ of time. He or she added:  “This must of course be difficult, having lost the Chair of Finance Committee last year and, more recently, the Director of
Finance
 (see below), unexpectedly”.

Although misspelt, support was clear in this supposed ‘witch-hunt’ for contentious Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott. The ‘Your friend’ message said:  “Only Hillary can save Professor Boyle (new Vice-Chancellor {VC}) from the same incompetents that undermined Richard Davies’ (suspended VC) stellar transformation of your Institution for the Region.

‘Your friend’ said Hilary Lappin-Scott’s ‘global recognition’ had been ‘negated’

Apart from the suspension of Professor Davies, the Dean of his School of Management, Marc Clement, has also been suspended, as well as several other senior officials during the extraordinary ‘witch-hunt’ inquiry into the multi-million pound Llanelli ‘Wellness Village’ land deal where the police have been called in. Previous messages have alleged that Professor Davies was ‘crucified’ during the investigation.

The ‘Your friend’ note came almost immediately after the astonishing statement from the troubled institution, confirming for the first time that apart from looking into the campaign itself, the police were involved too in investigating serious issues that have come to light during the so-called ‘witch-hunt’.

Suspended former Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Richard Davies and the School of Management Dean Marc Clement – a ‘witch-hunt’?

The statement last week from Swansea’s ‘Associate Director Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Head of Legal and Compliance Services’ stated :  Alongside the University’s internal disciplinary process, there is also on-going police involvement (i) with regard to the issues uncovered during the University’s investigation; and (ii) anonymous communications sent to University staff relating to the suspensions and disciplinary processes. The matters under investigation are very serious. The University has invested a significant amount of resource investigating the alleged misconduct, as have the authorities. It is essential that nothing is done to undermine the on-going processes. They must be allowed to run their course without interference.”

Donald Trump – ‘witch-hunt’

This statement included a libellous message from ‘Your friend’ which was sent from the invented address ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’, an earlier one to staff at the headline-grabbing institution concerned an awards ceremony. It said:  “… your Registrar (Andrew Rhodes) was shamelessly picking up Prof Richard Davies’s award – clearly he made (Pro Vice-Chancellor [PVC]) Hillary (Lappin-Scott) stay at home”.

Dean of the University’s management school, Marc Clement, has been suspended and is being investigated in the ‘witch-hunt’

And added:  “I am sure you will all join me in congratulating him (Professor Clement).

The remarkable statement was Swansea University’s first official response to the anonymous computer messages sent out by ‘Your friend’ in the ‘witch-hunt’ campaign, saying to staff and others formally that many of the so-called ‘facts’ were incorrect. Officials included the latest gmail/email, and said that it would be referred to the police, along with all the previous ones.

The university’s response read:  “The below email has been referred to the police to consider, together with the previous anonymous emails that the University’s staff and others have received”.

Internal documents are being examined

The statement from the controversial institution, confirmed, also for the first time, that the police are involved too in investigating serious issues that have come to light during the top-level inquiry dubbed a ‘witch-hunt’.

The internal ‘witch-hunt’ campaign at Swansea University is set against a disturbing background, as the one-time VC was suspended before announcing his retirement. Professor Clement, as well as the others have been relieved of their duties, as the astonishing examination continues into the Llanelli ‘Wellness Village’ project.

Steve Chan – why did Swansea University employ a convicted fraudster?

Previous gmails have also alleged the ‘crucifixion’ of Professor Davies during the investigation, which appears to be a mixed metaphor as women accused of witchcraft were never crucified.

The stunning crusade at the scandal-hit university also forms a worrying backdrop to our exclusive disclosure that officials had employed a fraudster called Steve Chan who used to work on a contract at the management school, and after we had revealed that a previous Dean there accused of bullying had died.

We showed how Chan had even represented the university in advising an international agency on the ways to combat fraud

Chan had been imprisoned by a court in Boston for four years and three months, and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation. His jail term was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud, he was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.

Is it a ‘kangaroo court’ AND a ‘witch-hunt’ as said in the anonymous computer campaign by ‘Your friend’?

A further gmail which was sent in the astounding campaign undertaken by ‘Your friend’ at the university claimed that previous messages were “blocked”, and again alleged that a “witch hunt” was underway. This one was also addressed to the university’s council members and was headlined “More truth” – it was another which came from a ‘Lilith Sumerian’ address.

The scurrilous gmail included attachments and a section of it read:  “Last week’s email was blocked – here it is below for completeness’ sake. Ask yourself: what else is the leadership keeping from you?… Why is this witch hunt therefore still continuing?”.

‘Your friend’ says Sir Roger Jones should look into it

Another message in the hours afterwards was, like the most recent ones, addressed to the Chair of the university council Sir Roger Jones, as well as staff, and attached a letter from ‘Your friend’ purportedly raising worries about public procurement. It said:  “Dear friends.  I write with concern … about Public Procurement Regulations”This gmail was marked ‘Saint Homobonus’ and delivered from the address ‘patron of procurement’.

The mainstream media in Wales have ignored the anonymous computer campaign

But the campaign inside Swansea University alleging a ‘witch-hunt’ has been totally ignored by the mainstream media, and has been conducted ever since the incredible investigation was launched.

The dirty tricks appear to be designed to undermine the inquiry and boost the reputations of those who have been suspended, as well as key senior executives such as the antagonistic senior PVC Professor Lappin-Scott (another recipient of the gmails). Yet The Eye have shown how Professor Lappin-Scott enraged her own workers by sending tweets from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’, and her exploits have become the subject of our satirical writer. The anonymous communications have claimed in the past that Professor Lappin-Scott would lead the university to “an era of gold and honey”.

Phil Parry – a ‘troll’?

In part, one recent gmail to staff as well as the Chair of the Swansea University’s council read:   “Why are these things happening and being leaked to Sion Barry (the Western Mail Business Editor) and, in turn, (our Editor) Phil Parry (someone trolling Professor Hillary {sic} Lappin-Scott) whilst in the middle of an independent internal investigation?”.

Another added:  “Appended below you can find the previous installments (American spelling) and claims there has been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews – almost as if the facts were at odds with the desired outcome”. Although misspelt a further gmail was clear: “Please Hillary (sic) (Lappin-Scott) out (put?) your hat back in the ring!”.

The ‘university’ project in Kuwait – legal action may follow

In one of the internal gmails during the ‘witch-hunt’, following disclosures about a Kuwait project which forms part of the investigation along with the ‘Wellness village’, and was headlined ‘destruction of value and relationships’, a further series of unlawful claims against a named individual were made, and among the few lines we can publish is:  “I am confident we should expect retaliation by the Kuwaitis”.

Does ‘Your friend’ know the law?

A response from the Kuwait Innovative Group (KIG) was reported afterwards, and following it Swansea University decided not to continue with the project. Further action may follow. KIG told the university it would take legal steps for a full refund of a “sensitive” document’s £600,000 cost. The group claims the document was leaked and is also considering action for loss of potential investment and damage to reputation.

Rob Brelsford-Smith – another victim of a ‘witch-hunt’?

It is alleged that legal rules may have been flouted, and ‘Your friend’ also appears to be unaware of them because as the gmails he or she have sent were published to a third party they fall within the remit of libel laws. If this person can be found legal action could follow.

But Swansea University is rarely far from the news – ‘witch-hunt’ or no ‘witch-hunt’.

We were ‘vexatious’ apparently…

We can confirm that, as ‘Your friend’ said, Rob Brelsford-SmithFinance Director at the scandal-hit institution, has indeed resigned. The timing will only raise further questions that this has happened as a report is about to be released after the investigation into a contentious land deal. We have had to contact our sources to establish this information and other details have also been difficult to gain.

University officials have been less keen than ‘Your friend’ to give The Eye information – this time about Chan’s background, and we have been told in the past our questions about him in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been refused on the grounds they were “vexatious”.

Book posterPerhaps those officials too think they are victims of a ‘witch-hunt’…

 

Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster! 

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