A cabinet member of the Welsh Government (WG) has publicly endorsed a new media service from a ‘comedian’ who made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, used bad language to abuse prominent politicians publicly, and was placed under police investigation, The Eye can exclusively reveal.
Controversial Huw Marshall, self-styled ‘project lead’ of The News Wales (TNW), was severely reprimanded by the social media giant Twitter because one of his accounts “violated the Twitter Rules”, and called WG Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates a “gloating t**t”, as well as accusing former AM Peter Black of being a “humourless t..t” and a “dull, tedious t..t”.
Despite this alarming background, the WG Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport (deputy to Mr Skates who was called a ‘gloating t**t’), Lee Waters MS declared on Twitter “Best of luck to @TheNewsWales with its pilot of a new digital news service for Wales”.
Some have confused NMW with the nationalist website Gwalia News (GN) (perhaps unsurprisingly as Mr Mr Marshall has ‘retweeted’ its support section) and it has been forced to issue a ‘clarification’.
Yet GN which Mr Marshall has backed is clearly unhappy that Mr Waters’ Labour government has not taken action to enforce Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) candidates having strict residency rules.
It has supported the launch of a petition calling on the WG “to introduce a minimum 3-year residency requirement for all Senedd candidates”.
In the promotion for TNW beside his description as “Project Lead”, Mr Marshall makes great play of being “the former head of digital at S4C” and says “He has an in depth knowledge and understanding of the UK and Wales media landscapes and has developed a comprehensive network of connections within the traditional media industry as well (sic) the emerging technologies sector”.
Critics of Mr Marshall contacted by The Eye, though, say much of this ‘promotion’ where he claims to have ‘in depth knowledge’ is just bluster.
Meanwhile, the police have taken an interest in Mr Marshall, and this appears to form an unlikely backdrop to his new service being wished “Best of luck” by a WG minister.
Mr Marshall was investigated by South Wales Police (SWP) for alleged harassment, but on Twitter he told officers that he intended to make a complaint, however SWP responded by informing him that they have a “responsibility to investigate any reports”.
In 1992 he stood for Mr Waters’ opposition party Plaid Cymru (PC) as Parliamentary candidate in Cardiff Central, coming fourth with just 748 votes, yet his plans to stand for election as a councillor were scuppered when it emerged that he had posted so-called ‘jokes’ about rampaging gunman Raoul Moat, and that he had published the offensive remarks to the politicians on social media.
Two people died and a police officer lost the sight in both eyes when Moat shot them, however despite this on July 8, 2010 – with him trying to escape from armed police – Mr Marshall published a message on his 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.
“If this sounds like you contact me email@example.com.”
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”.
Mr Marshall declared on social media, that fresh details would be revealed on a certain day about NMW, but when it passed no facts had been disclosed.
The Eye’s research has confirmed that Mr Marshall’s design is to run NMW with just four reporters, but there are serious questions as to whether a ‘national media service’ can be delivered with such a small number, and there is no registration for either NMW or TNW at Companies House (CH).
But his ‘proposals’ for NMW have featured on HoldtheFrontPage.Co.UK – a website for UK journalists.
It 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’”.
The website also alarmingly divulged: “So far a crowdfunding initiative has seen 48 patrons pledge a total of £333 per month to the project”.
Our investigations revealed that a few weeks ago Mr Marshall had in fact ‘achieved’ a total of 179 patrons pledging £1,221 per month, but he has said he needed a lot more.
Online he has stated: “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”.
But it is Mr Marshall’s weight, as well as his ‘comedy’, which appears to be ‘vital’, and may be an issue in writing stories about overweight people with his ‘new media’ service for Wales.
While he was in hospital he posted on social media that he had to lose a large amount of weight over a short time, and that this could be hard.
He 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. Mr Marshall said, presumably ‘jokingly’: “Waiting to see the surgeon in a&e…… What’s that sign mean?”.
Perhaps it has been his apparent ‘entrepreneurship’ (as is shown with NMW and his ‘pilot’ with TNW) which has appealed to Mr Waters, although onlookers doubt that any of his ideas will come to fruition.
Mr Marshall claims to be looking into launching a number of companies to ‘benefit’ the public. He has said on Twitter: “Currently working on the development of a couple of new companies. My first considerations are what is the problem we are trying to solve, what are the benefits to the public and society? I haven’t given any thought to an exit valuation and salary… Maybe I’m doing it wrong”.
More recently Mr Marshall has claimed he is thinking of a ‘game’ about independence for Wales and needs assistance. He has said on Twitter: “Are there any indygame devs out there? I need your help with an AMAZING project….
Even in November 2016 (years after his indiscretions) he was used as an ‘expert’ on the Welsh media. Mr Marshall was part of a panel on The Future of the Welsh Media at the University of South Wales (USW) in Cardiff along with Bethan Jenkins (then) AM, Martin Shipton Chief Reporter of the Western Mail (then) and Dr Ruth McElroy of USW.
The discussion was described in literature afterwards as “packed” (sic) and Ms Jenkins (now Sayed) said: “although broadcasting is not devolved, it’s an area of great importance to public life in Wales”.
But financing his many ventures seems to be problematic for Mr Marshall, and he 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 he appears to have received public money for a ‘language project’ which has been endorsed as “Newyddion da (Good news)” by the PC MS, Helen Mary Jones.
Mr Marshall has also tweeted about being ‘taught’ the lessons of colonialism by a Chilean.
He said a woman had proclaimed: “‘We know the Welsh…they took our land’” and he added: “It taught me a lesson about colonialism…”
But evidently Mr Marshall is sensitive to criticism, and has posted on social media that there will be legal involvement after our disclosures. He has stated on Twitter “…the time will shortly come when lawyers get involved”.
Mr Marshall says he contacted the police after they launched their investigation into him 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”.
Perhaps the reputation of the WG is also at stake when one of its most prominent members wishes “Best of luck” to a media service run by a man who was investigated by the police and called politicians ‘t**ts’…
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (before the advent of NMW or TNW) 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!