A social media account belonging to a controversial ‘comedian’ who founded a Welsh nationalist newspaper which lasted just eight months, does not now ‘exist’, despite him proclaiming he used it to discomfort our Editor, it has emerged.
A Twitter account has disappeared, of Huw Marshall, who had made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, used bad language online to abuse prominent politicians, and was placed under police investigation.
Mr Marshall was announced as the “driving force”, for The National (TN), the print version of which was axed last November, when it had only launched the previous SAINT DAVID’S DAY (March 1). He had also used a specialist service in a fruitless attempt to close down The Eye, but says grandly about his own website: “I provide creative solutions to clients in wales and beyond, delivering meaningful projects that get attention”.
However this sort of worrying information, has not been the first time that Mr Marshall has faced controversial headlines, and some of them have put his use of social media at their centre.
He had earlier been reprimanded by Twitter because another of his accounts “violated the Twitter Rules”, and it found that a further one, “Welsh Bollocks”, had also broken their regulations. He had tried to explain what he used all his Twitter sites for, declaring that he reserved the one that “doesn’t exist”, for items which may bother our Editor Phil Parry, stating: “@marshallmedia is where I post Everton related stuff and things that upsets Phil Parry”.
Mr Marshall wears his heart on his sleeve supporting Welsh nationalist politics, which might be seen as strange for the founder of a newspaper, when neutrality in news reporting (unlike the type that The Eye undertakes) is usually seen as vital.
In a deleted tweet by the House of Commons group leader for Plaid Cymru (PC), and Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts on April 1, which was ‘re-tweeted’ by him, he said: “It’s been an honour & a pleasure to represent Plaid Cymru in the constituency we as a family call home…”.
But Mr Marshall was plainly unhappy at The Eye‘s reporting of past events, and he has said on Twitter “…the time will shortly come when lawyers get involved”.
Another side of the legal system, though, can be revealed by the fact that on Twitter Mr Marshall had written that he told the police he intended to make a complaint about their behaviour, however officers responded by informing him that they have a “responsibility to investigate any reports”.
In 2013, it was shown, too, that he had made extremely offensive remarks about senior politicians on Twitter, and complaints after further comments led to reprimands by the social media company. One insult eight years ago, was directed at the Labour MS and minister Ken Skates, with another ‘describing’ the former Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black. 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 called Mr Black a “humourless (sic) t..t” as well as a “dull, tedious t..t”.
Meanwhile, the Welsh nationalist newspaper Mr Marshall later founded (TN) made news itself – but for all the wrong reasons. The ‘Regional Editor’, Gavin Thompson wrote in the paper (although didn’t headline it): “…we’ll be stopping our weekly print edition, (and) reverting to a pop-up model in future. The edition published today, Saturday, November 13, is the final weekly print edition, for now at least.”. Yet, it appeared that Mr Marshall remained typically optimistic, declaring online: “The paper is on pause while we focus on digital as we have a brand new mobile & tablet App…”
Before its shutdown, Mr Thompson released a ‘manifesto’ for the contentious project in which he said Mr Marshall had, “worked hard to convince us it was viable” and that “The journey began with a crowdfunded campaign by (Mr Marshall’s) independent organisation New Media Wales”.
Yet the crowdfunding campaign was highly questionable – investigations by our journalists have shown that at one point Mr Marshall had a total of just 179 patrons pledging £1,221 per month, although he said he needed a lot more – 500 to launch.
Unusual characters had also backed TN before the inevitable closure (along with its online precursor The News Wales). The headline-grabbing Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) member for Blaenau Gwent, Alun Davies, MS, declared on Twitter about it before the launch: “Well. I wish you best of luck with this initiative. Anything to strengthen our news environment should receive a warm welcome”. A ‘warm welcome’ was given, as well, to the ‘pilot’ for the venture which was wished “Best of luck” by Welsh Government (WG) minister Lee Waters, despite the fact that Mr Marshall had called other senior politicians ‘t**ts’.
After the paper was offered to the public, it declared in a headline: “Help us reach 1,000 subscribers and we’ll hire a political correspondent”, and it advertised for “Digital reporters (x2), audience and content editor (x1)”, however there were severe doubts about whether a ‘national’ news service could be undertaken with this number. Mr Thompson (who also edits The Argus in Newport) himself admitted that few people, it seemed wanted to take out a subscription: “Our journalism is funded by our digital subscribers. At time of writing, 430 of you had signed up to become subscribers, many taking out an annual subscription”.
Even at the beginning for TN, the reviews were not good. A reader of the paper’s first edition said: “It looks like the Wrexham Leader from the 1970s”, and those in authority took a pretty dim view as well. Mr Waters (a former producer on the BBC Cymru Wales [BBC CW] radio programme Good Morning Wales [GMW]) stated on Facebook (FB): “Well I’ve just bought a copy and think its pretty dull”, which was ironic for, as we disclosed, he had wished an earlier ‘pilot’ “Best of luck”.
This was the published comment by one writer online: “It (TN) starts with worthy statements about how we deserve better fearless, independent and unintimidated media in Wales and should be happy to pay for it then gives us a timid, third rate product filled mainly with political comment from compromised sources who wouldn’t know a truth if it whacked them over the head with a cricket bat”.
The supposedly ‘independent’ (although Mr Marshall’s) ‘New Media Wales (NMW)’, or the ‘pilot’, have also made headlines other than in TN (and as of November did not do so at all in the print version), with the ‘stories’ being described in Private Eye (PE) as “cut and pasted from other news organisations”, and they have been highlighted, as well, 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.
Mr Marshall headlined ‘his’ story: “Aldey Hey Choldren’s Hospital doctor on learning Welsh” when it is in fact AldeR Hey and, of course, CHILDREN’S (correct spelling is critical for journalists). The item began: “Dr Jonathan Hurst is a doctor at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He’s been learning Welsh for the last two years. etc. The Nant Gwrtheyrn article opened with: “Dr Jonathan Hurst is a doctor at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He’s been learning Welsh for the last two years.” etc. Yet this is not the first time Mr Marshall has made the wrong kind of news when so-called ‘stories’ have appeared in other publications.
This was an article in The Leader based in North Wales: “NORTH Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is standing down.”etc. This was his article which followed it: “NORTH Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is standing down.” etc. In fact the two pieces are exactly the same throughout, but underneath Mr Marshall’s, he says: “Posted in Welsh News”.
However his supposed ‘stories’ from The Leader or the Nant Gwrtheyrn website are not the only examples. This was the piece in The Powys County Times from the Press Association (PA):“A former Welsh Conservative Party leader has been criticised for equating protesters at the US Capitol to those who supported a second referendum on Brexit.”. etc. This was the item in TN: “A former leader of the Welsh Conservative Party has been criticised for equating protesters at the US Capitol to those who supported a second referendum on Brexit.”. etc.
Even before the unveiling of TN in March last year, it was clear there was unease among potential supporters. One announced on Twitter “for me it’s important to be owned and run in Wales”. Another stated: “He’s (Mr Marshall) been saying for a while that there is a “Partner” on board……I assumed that it was a local, welsh business……but it does indeed look like it is (the publishing giant) News quest! !”. A further critic said on Twitter: “Why are we having to use a London based company?”. A different detractor stated: “Gotta be honest, a London-headquarterd media outlet is not at all what I thought I was supporting, purported editorial freedom or nay. I have some reasonably major reservations”.
Issues like these were always likely to be highlighted by any possible competitor, making the long-term future of TN problematic, and its closure inevitable, especially when the background of its founder was uncovered.
Two people had 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”.
Mr Marshall has been dubbed a “chancer” on social media, and evidently he does not know his journalist libel law (which may, perhaps, have contributed to the cessation of TN’s print edition), because he has said on Twitter that Mr Parry was a ‘liar’ and an “obsessive coward”, linking the insults to an earlier piece he had written about his ‘venture’.
Mr Marshall had also called Mr Parry 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 has won an enormous number of awards.
After Mr Parry published an earlier factual story about Mr Marshall’s antics, Mr Marshall 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.
Neutrality may have proved difficult for TN, when the political background of its founder emerged.
In 1992 Mr Marshall was PC 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 Moat, and published the abusive remarks to senior politicians on social media.
But it is clear that he is now unable to do this from one of his accounts because it does not exist!
Phil’s memories of his extraordinary 38-year award-winning career in journalism (including stories in Wales about failed newspapers), as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
Tomorrow – why during 23 years with the BBC, and 38 years in journalism, our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, always knew the importance of having friends, who became good contacts for stories to fire bullets at senior management officials, about the way important organisations were behaving.