The creation of a bilingual Welsh digital company for the disabled called ‘Annwen’, puts centre stage revelations of how its founder was investigated by the police, publicised ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, made abusive remarks online concerning senior politicians, and tried to gag The Eye.
Someone like this could attract more controversial headlines which might be unwelcome for a disability service.
The contentious so-called ‘comedian’ Huw Marshall attempted to have The Eye shut down after our journalists published disturbing details about his dubious past, including how he was at the heart of an official police inquiry for alleged harassment.
On Twitter Mr Marshall told South Wales Police (SWP) that he intended to make a complaint about the way officers had conducted the harassment probe, however they responded by informing him that officers were governed by a “responsibility to investigate any reports”, and they were were provided with a screenshot of Mr Marshall’s website Welsh Bollocks where he admitted sending a fake takeaway delivery to the home of someone he did not like.
Mr Marshall does not publicise these disturbing facts with Annwen, he does, however, proudly proclaim of his association with the Welsh-language fourth channel S4C, but said he was then in charge of Digital Development at a new ‘national’ media publication in Wales, called The National (TN).
He has made great play of these past roles in the media, with the Annwen website declaring: “Huw has over 30 years’ experience working in UK media. Between 2012 and 2016 he was head of digital at the public service broadcaster S4C where (sic) managed the channels (sic) non-linear portfolio and managed their £4,000,000 commercial digital fund”.
However details in this CV do not include the fact that in 2013, it was disclosed that Mr Marshall had made extremely offensive comments to senior politicians on Twitter, and that complaints after further outpourings led to a reprimand by the social media company.
After Mr Skates tweeted in celebration of a one-vote council by-election victory over Plaid Cymru (PC) in Ruabon, Mr Marshall referred to him in his own tweet as a “gloating t**t”, and he described Mr Black as a “humourless (sic) t..t”as well as a “dull, tedious t..t”.
But this kind of abuse from him is not the only controversy to swirl around Mr Marshall.
Two people died and a police officer lost the sight in both eyes when rampaging gunman Raoul Moat shot them, yet despite this on July 8, 2010 – with him trying to escape from armed police – Mr Marshall published a message on his Facebook (FB) site, reading: “Hi I’m a sexy 19 year old blond (sic) from the North East of England looking for some fun. My Mr Right should be a big strong ginger man with a fiery temper and a jealous nature, who also enjoys camping and writing long letters. Another post read: “Moat reward… if he isn’t caught by next Wednesday, the rewards (sic) being doubled. It’s going to be a Raul (sic) over”.
Apart from involvement in Annwen, Mr Marshall is also behind TN, and in attempting to have The Eye closed down, he alleged there were “violent threats and harassment” when there have been none from our journalists, and the only abuse has come from him.
In response to the threat, the reply was made that: “Huw Marshall has: 1. Been investigated by the police for harassment. 2. Made sick ‘jokes’ on Facebook about the murdering gunman Raoul Moat. 3. Called senior politicians Ken Skates and Peter Black ‘twats’ online. 4. Been reprimanded by Twitter. 5. Sent unwanted takeaways to people’s houses”.
Meanwhile, it is a fundamental tenet of news journalism, as well, to be entirely neutral, and this could be crucial for TN. Yet this may be difficult with Mr Marshall (who has been described as a “chancer” on Twitter) on board, as he has stood for a political party in the past. In 1992 he was Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru’s (PC’s) Parliamentary candidate in Cardiff Central, coming fourth with just 748 votes, however his plans to stand for election as a councillor were scuppered when it emerged that he had posted the so-called ‘jokes’ about rampaging gunman Moat, and published the abusive remarks to senior politicians on social media.
Previous media ventures have also made headlines, with his ‘stories’ being described in Private Eye as “cut and pasted from other news organisations”, and they have been highlighted, too, by The Eye. He has published an article about a doctor learning Welsh, which bore a striking resemblance to an item on the website of a centre which teaches the language to adults, called Nant Gwrtheyrn.
Evidently Mr Marshall does not know his journalist libel law (which is strange for someone involved in new media services), because apart from saying on Twitter that our Editor Phil Parry is a ‘liar’, he accused him, as well, of being an “obsessive coward”, linking the insults to an earlier piece that had been written about TN. Yet publishing these phrases to a third person (as he has done) is highly libellous.
Mr Marshall (who was also responsible for a scheme called ‘New Media Wales’ [NMW]) has, too, called Mr Parry online a “self proclaimed journalist”, which may not be libellous but is provably wrong as he trained to be a journalist in 1983 on the best newspaper course in the UK before moving into television, and he has won an enormous number of awards. Mr Parry’s long career has mostly been in other organisations (including 23 years with The BBC), and he has taken a large number of National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) exams – ones in libel among them. After an earlier factual story was published about Mr Marshall’s antics, he said on Twitter, it was “now in the hands of the police” when the facts (unlike Mr Marshall himself) were NOT, actually, a police matter.
Mr Parry seems to have become something of a thorn in the side of Mr Marshall, because he has declared that he has a number of different Twitter accounts, but says he reserves one for items which may bother him, stating: “@marshallmedia is where I post Everton related stuff and things that upsets Phil Parry”.
It may be that many of Mr Marshall’s past actions, could upset journalists like Mr Parry, and that could lie behind his attempts to have The Eye closed down.
He had earlier published a picture of himself on social media, wearing a mask at a clinic beneath a sign urging people to keep their distance, but asked provocatively what it meant with a laughing emoji after the comment, declaring: “Waiting to see the surgeon in a&e…… What’s that sign mean?”.
Yet he has fallen foul of rules before – on Twitter. He was severely reprimanded because one of his accounts “violated the Twitter Rules”, and it was found that Welsh Bollocks, had also broken their regulations.
As well as this, Mr Marshall’s involvement in politics on behalf of PC could present a problem too for an organisation like Mudiad Meithrin (MM) which helps parents find Welsh-speaking child-care, and has declared he was to be its new voluntary director – given that the Welsh Government (WG) is run by a different party from the one he supports.
Perhaps it has been his apparent ‘entrepreneurship’ which appealed to MM, although critics doubt that any of his ideas will come to fruition.
Apart from wrongly accusing The Eye of “violent threats and harassment”, Mr Marshall also claims to be looking into launching a number of companies to ‘benefit’ the public.
Even in November 2016 (years after his indiscretions) Mr Marshall was used as an ‘expert’ on the Welsh media. He formed part of a panel on The Future of the Welsh Media at the University of South Wales (USW) in Cardiff along with Bethan (then) Jenkins AM, Martin Shipton (then) Chief Reporter of the Western Mail and Dr Ruth McElroy of USW.
But financing his many ventures appears problematic, and Mr Marshall has also stated on social media: “Just had feedback on an unsuccessful funding bid. I use the word feedback in the loosest possible term…..” Yet from his own account on Twitter Mr Marshall appears to have received public money for a ‘language project’ which has been endorsed as “Newyddion da (Good news)” by Helen Mary Jones MS.
He has, too, used the internet to announce his ‘plans’ for another ‘unbiased’ new ‘news’ service for Wales to which huge amounts of money have been pledged by members of the public, even before the launch of TN.
But it has not simply been Annwen, Mr Marshall’s has launched previous media ‘proposals’, and they have often been greeted with warm acclaim, because the perception was that they might provide jobs for journalists.
Earlier ‘projects’ have featured on HoldtheFrontPage.Co.UK (a website for UK journalists), which reported: “In a blog post about his plans, Huw wrote: ‘We are developing a fully functioning news and media business to serve the whole of Wales, one that delivers the level of service you would expect from a national platform’”. In an alarming disclosure, the website also stated: “So far a crowdfunding initiative has seen 48 patrons pledge a total of £333 per month to the project”. But our investigations revealed that several months ago, Mr Marshall had in fact secured a total of 179 patrons pledging £1,221 per month, but he has said he needed a lot more.
Online Mr Marshall has stated about TN: “Our business model requires an element of subscription, it’s vital from a sustainability perspective, and is particularly vital during our first twelve months as we develop other revenue streams. We need to attract a minimum of 500 subscribers in order to launch”.
In another tweet from the ones where he abused senior politicians and Mr Parry, as well as proclaiming the ‘information’ about Annwen’s activities, he vowed that he could save a large amount of money for Wales’ biggest broadcaster BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW), but others have stated that he is a ‘bully’.
Mr Marshall, though, appears undaunted by the criticism and has said on social media: “I could go in to the BBC tomorrow and save millions without impacting the content they produce…” One potential donor has said online that he wants one of his media ‘operations’ to be “unbiased” and not “nationalist” – possibly ignorant of Mr Marshall’s background.
Evidently Mr Marshall is also sensitive to criticism, and has posted on Twitter that there will be legal involvement after The Eye’s disclosures. He said on Twitter “…the time will shortly come when lawyers get involved”. Mr Marshall also says he has contacted the police but that there is little they can do as “it is a waste of their precious time”, and “I really pity those who try to undermine my work and reputation”.
One of Mr Marshall’s ‘works’ now appears to be a digital company for the disabled, which was created even though he was investigated by the police, publicised supposed ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, made abusive remarks online about senior politicians, and tried to gag The Eye…
Tomorrow – how tweets promising violence of a Welsh independence group supporter, highlight controversies and splits in the movement exposed by The Eye.
The memories of Phil’s astonishing decades long award-winning career in journalism (before the advent of TN or NMW) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!