- Ill discipline part one - 28th March 2023
- Nation in a state - 27th March 2023
- A final episode of Howard’s way? - 21st March 2023
An online WELSH media outlet which closed as a newspaper only months after it was first published as The Eye had predicted, has admitted it will now carry more SCOTTISH content, which its controversial founder described as “good news”, yet he had made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, used bad language to abuse prominent politicians on social media, and been placed under police investigation, it has emerged.
The print version of The National (TN), was axed last month, but it only launched on SAINT DAVID’S DAY (MARCH 1), and the contentious ‘comedian’ proclaimed as the “driving force” for it (Huw Marshall) had been officially reprimanded by Twitter.
In an apparent attempt to save costs, executives at TN have now admitted they must link up with its sister title The National (Scotland) (TNS), and praising the association, headline-grabbing Mr Marshall tweeted: “This is good news for Wales and Scotland, there are many common issues regarding devolved powers between Wales and Scotland. Great to @ScotNational and @nationalwales working together”. The extraordinary message included Welsh and Scottish flags with a smiley face emoji after it.
This may be seen as a further storm to hit Mr Marshall and TN, after The Eye exclusively highlighted earlier problems.
A reader of TN’s first edition said: “It looks like the Wrexham Leader from the 1970s”, and those in authority took a pretty dim view as well. The Welsh Government (WG) minister Lee 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 dreadful headlines persist throughout (try “Uncertainty follows end of overseas study scheme” for size! If I ever wrote that headline I think I would have decapitated myself immediately)…”.
As well as making sick so-called ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, and being placed under police investigation, Mr Marshall, had also used bad language to abuse our Editor Phil Parry online. He tried, too, to have this website closed down.
Mr Marshall is thought, as well, to be responsible for such ‘pranks’ as having unwanted take-aways delivered to critics’ homes. The neutrality of TN’s output had also been questioned, when this is an important tenet of news journalism, and its “driving force” (Mr Marshall) has announced that it would be independent, while the paper declared it was “for all of Wales”, including (presumably) potential customers who may be opposed to its values.
Controversies like these were always likely to be highlighted by any possible competitor, making the long-term future of TN problematic, and the closure of its newspaper version inevitable (as well as, now, perhaps its link-up with TNS), while the background of its founder would probably have been focused on too.
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 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 his ‘stories’ have been accused of being “cut and pasted” from other publications by the UK satirical and investigative magazine Private Eye.
Evidently he does not know his journalist libel law (which may, perhaps, have contributed to the cessation of TN’s print edition, and its website’s association with TNS), because he has said on Twitter that Phil 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 Phil 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 Phil 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. Mr Marshall has also declared that he has a number of different Twitter accounts, but says he reserves one for items which may bother Phil, stating: “@marshallmedia is where I post Everton related stuff and things that upsets Phil Parry”.
In 2013, it was shown, as well, 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”. On Twitter Mr Marshall has said he told the police that he intended to make a complaint, however officers responded by informing him that they have a “responsibility to investigate any reports”.
Meanwhile, the basic plank of news journalism to be impartial (because many possible readers may vote for parties other than the one you support), could be difficult for Mr Marshall, as he has been a candidate for one particular political party in the past. In 1992 he was 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 Moat, and published the abusive remarks to senior politicians on social media.
In responding to a police investigation into him, Mr Marshall said on Twitter that he had told South Wales Police (SWP) he intended to make a complaint, however officers answered by informing him that they had a “responsibility to investigate any reports”.
After The Eye brought this out, as well as many of Mr Marshall’s previous controversies, he attempted to have the website shut, alleging “violent threats and harassment”, when there have been no threats of violence from our journalists, and the only harassment has come from him after he used social media to dub senior Welsh politicians “t**ts”, and Phil a “liar”.
Mr Marshall’s ‘New Media Wales (NMW)’, or the ‘pilot’, have also made headlines other than in TN (and will not now do so at all in the print version), with the ‘stories’ being lambasted in Private Eye for being “cut and pasted from other news organisations”, and they have been brought out, also, 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 also 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’.
Sometimes the changes were minor, such as when Wrexham became Wrecsam. This, once more, was The Leader: “WREXHAM Maelor Hospital is under “immense pressure” amid rising coronavirus cases, a doctor has warned. Dr Steve Stanaway, medical director at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, says his teams are dealing with “huge numbers” of cases – which have grown by 86 per cent since Christmas. Speaking to ITV Wales News, Dr Stanaway said the hospital is currently dealing with 108 cases, 11 of which are patients in critical care …” etc.
This was Mr Marshall’s: “Wrecsam Maelor Hospital is under “immense pressure” amid rising coronavirus cases, a doctor has warned. Dr Steve Stanaway, medical director at Wrecsam Maelor Hospital, says his teams are dealing with “huge numbers” of cases – which have grown by 86 per cent since Christmas. Speaking to ITV Wales News, Dr Stanaway said the hospital is currently dealing with 108 cases, 11 of which are patients in critical care…” etc.
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, 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 declared: “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”.
Yet despite these ‘major reservations’, with the paper version of TN finishing after just EIGHT months, and now being forced to carry more Scottish content in its online version, there is apparent optimism.
The day after TN published its last print edition an official tweeted, seemingly referring to the paper continuing online: “Reports of our death are greatly exaggerated”, with a winking smiley face emoji after the comment, and, possibly living in a world of fantasy, this was in response to Mr Marshall saying, also on Twitter, that “The @nationalwales isn’t finishing.
“The paper is on pause while we focus on digital as we have a brand new mobile & tablet App…”
Maybe it is also a pause for thought that an online WELSH media outlet which closed as a newspaper only months after it was first published, will now carry more SCOTTISH content…
Tomorrow – why staff at the biggest broadcaster in Wales have condemned the ‘failings’ of its flagship evening news programme in the new headquarters costing £100 million of public money.
Details of Phil’s astonishing award-winning journalistic career, as he was gripped by the rare neurological 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.