Revelations that millions of pounds in fees connected with plans for a controversial new Welsh cancer centre have been spent before the business case has even been approved, have once again focused attention on the role of the contentious rugby commentator in charge of raising funds, The Eye can reveal.
Former Wales rugby international Jonathan Davies (whose Twitter name is @JiffyRugby) is President of Velindre Fundraising but has been accused of talking “some shit”, as well as being “so so thick”, was filmed using a fire extinguisher in a dangerous prank, and was condemned on social media as “irresponsible”, spreading “bullshit”, and re-tweeting “a lie”, before he drew a furious response to a deleted tweet which could have advertised breaking lockdown rules.
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request disclosed that Velindre University NHS Trust had spent £20 million on plans for a new hospital building on the Northern Meadows in Whitchurch, Cardiff, and the extraordinary bill included £7,630,048 for technical advice alone.
But the head of the fundraising exercise for the new cancer centre, Mr Davies, has been described on Twitter as “irresponsible, disrespectful and crass” after he ‘re-tweeted’ a message saying: “lockdowns are unnecessary” hashtagging CV19, and a deleted tweet about lockdown was also followed by angry replies on Twitter.
One detractor said about it that “Advertising breaking the lockdown rules is not a good idea…”.
Yet the Welsh Government (WG) rules clearly state that the rules were imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus/Covid-19, and they have been underlined by the announcement of a lockdown for the whole of Wales until November 9.
A different critic who had seen the ‘re-tweeted’ message that lockdowns were unnecessary, replied to Mr Davies: “You are supposed to be an ambassador for a healthcare organisation but totally fail to take your position seriously”.
As well as being President of Velindre Fundraising Mr Davies is also a well known television presenter, but The BBC has issued new guidelines on the use of social media which he appears to disregard.
Senior doctors have also raised major concerns about the Velindre plans, with around 57 cancer experts calling for an independent review of the proposals.
In the past, Mr Davies has demanded of one of the campaigners against the scheme on social media: “Have you or anyone close to you ever been unfortunate enough to have cancer?”
But the advocate for a green space in that part of Cardiff hit back, and said: “Absolutely yes, many of those opposing the site are current patients at Velindre”.
He has also been accused of being ‘misleading’, publishing ‘rubbish’ and ‘ranting’, after stating on social media that the plans for Velindre would leave 60 per cent of a meadow available to walkers when protesters say surveys have indicated all will be destroyed.
Contradicting him, one protester declared about the project: “The whole area will be bulldozed, £27 million of public money just to access this unsuitable site…” Another cautioned: “Let’s talk Jonathan, not rant”.
A further shocked viewer of Mr Davies’ recent ‘re-tweet’ of a message that “lockdowns are unnecessary” said: “This seems close to being a Covid conspiracy theory now”.
Conspiracy theories connected with the pandemic have a long and disturbing history.
The myths about the virus include the absurd notion that the disease can be cured by drinking methanol, which has led to more than 700 deaths in Iran, and that it is spread by 5G transmitters, which has convinced arsonists in the UK to carry out dozens of attacks on mobile phone towers.
In the spring, masts in Britain, the Netherland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, were attacked, with fire damaging 100 masts in the UK alone.
There were 20 strikes over the Easter weekend, including one on a mast serving a Birmingham hospital.
It appears the arsonists believe that radiation from 5G masts cause coronavirus/Covid-19, while in fact people are exposed to more radiation by standing beside baby monitors.
Yet the commentary style of Mr Davies, too, has come under fire – this time before, during and after The Challenge Rugby League Cup final.
Earlier howls of outrage on social media had greeted news of his inclusion in rugby league presentation teams, including: “Jonathan Davies ruins these games for me”.
There have been complaints on social media about his mispronunciation of ‘Salford’, he has been described as a “dipshit”, and one rugby league fan said “Why do we have 2 have Jonathan Davies on rl 4BBC” with a picture of an upset emoji after the comment.
On The Challenge Rugby League Cup final occasion a distraught supporter asked why sport executives could not have found someone: “more relevant than Jonathan Davies” with another upset emoji following the remark.
A different fan said Mr Davies “chats so much shite” while another said it was “Time to hang the mic up!”.
But this is not the first time that Mr Davies has been at the centre of controversy with the use of social media at its heart.
Warnings were repeated about the hazards involved in the misuse of fire extinguishers after experts were shown alarming pictures from a video of Mr Davies using one to spray into the face of former international rugby referee, Nigel Owens, as he sat in his car while another person filming the dangerous stunt laughed, which was also posted on social media.
The escapade with a fire extinguisher was in the car park of an independent TV facilities house near what was then the BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) headquarters in Llandaff, Cardiff, in 2014 and has been condemned as “incredibly dangerous”.
It prompted a series of outraged comments at the time on a sports Facebook (FB) site.
One critic said: “…did he give any thought to what injuries he may have caused?…We all like a good laugh sadly this isn’t it”.
Another declared that Mr Davies was a “fucking prick”, while a further attacker stated that he didn’t think “people realise how dangerous CO2 extinguishers are”.
In the clip now on YouTube, Mr Owens escapes from the car running, but Mr Davies uses the fire extinguisher again, as the person filming it exclaims in Welsh “OH, NO!”, and Mr Owens then shouts “IDIOT!” at him pointing.
After stills were displayed from the film shot six years ago, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service issued a stern warning about the misuse of fire extinguishers.
A spokesperson told The Eye: “CO2 extinguishers can prove hazardous as they rapidly remove the oxygen from the atmosphere, therefore increasing the risk of asphyxiation when used in confined space.
Mr Davies also posted on social media a fake picture of one rugby fan, a well-known Welsh supporter, wearing a Pontypridd RFC shirt but he was then slammed for “essentially fat shaming someone because they disagree with them”, and the observer linked the comment to @BBCSport @BBCNews 5liveSport and @BBCWalesNews, saying they should be “embarrassed”, and that it was a “Dick move”.
But Mr Davies has said on social media that The Eye’s reporting of all this was “negative journalism”, and a supporter of his, Marc Winchester, wrote on the Twitter thread: “I’ll whack him (The Eye Editor Phil Parry)“.
This threat was described as a ‘joke’ by Mr Winchester, who has proclaimed he was a multi-millionaire but ran a convenience store.
Yet it was still reported to the police who mounted an investigation.
He has too faced huge criticism following statements which have included calling the Rhondda MP Chris Bryant a “knob” on Twitter (which has been the insult as well hurled at Mr Davies himself in the current ‘re-tweet row’), for asking about childcare during a House of Commons debate.
The fury of Mr Davies has also been directed at journalist Marcus Stead on social media after he had criticised what he views as the Welsh establishment.
He engaged in an extraordinary spat with him, again using Twitter, in which he branded Mr Stead, an “attention seeking nobody”, a “sad pathetic waste of time” and ‘hashtagged’ the words “absolute bell end”.
Perhaps this may too not be the end of money gone on the controversial scheme for a new cancer centre in Cardiff, after an FOIA revealed that huge amounts of cash have already been spent, and the man in charge of raising funds has been accused of talking “some shit”, as well as being “so so thick”, was filmed using a fire extinguisher in a dangerous prank, and was condemned on social media as “irresponsible” for spreading “bullshit”.
Tomorrow – when the law is an ass.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his astonishing 37-year award-winning career in journalism (including exposing the mis-deeds of famous people) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!