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Mark James vs Jacquie Thompson

A controversial one-time Chief Executive of a Welsh council who was at the centre of “unlawful” payments and did not declare he was a trustee of a multi-million pound project under investigation, has been sent a strongly-worded highly defamatory email from a blogger he sued saying that he is “appalling”The Eye can reveal.

Jacqui Thompson has also told Mark James, formerly of Carmarthenshire County Council“As the chief executive of a democratically elected council you are truly beneath contempt”. In the email to Mr James she added:  “You will certainly be remembered Mr James, not as a man of vision, nor even one with a ridiculous Honour, but as the man who trashed the reputation of Carmarthenshire County Council, and the Rotten Boroughs Shit of the Year”.

Mark James faced a different celebration on announcing he was going

Much of the rest of the message cannot be reproduced on The Eye for legal reasons, which came soon after we showed how Mr James, had attacked “keyboard warriors” and “anonymous bloggers” in his farewell speech at the council Annual General Meeting (AGM), and Ms Thompson firmly believes she was the target.

Ms Thompson was paying hundreds of pounds a month to settle her libel case after criticising him in the past, but was refused further details about the questionable project he was involved in.

She had demanded information about the cost of the scrapped draft ‘Joint Working Agreement’ (JWA) for the mammoth Swansea Bay City Deal. Yet she was told:  “… the draft Joint Working Agreement is protected by legal professional privilege”.

The ‘Agreement’ came under the microscope

Ms Thompson, from Llanwrda, has already condemned Mr James, who was the lead Chief Executive for another scheme at the heart of the top-level investigation. She was even charged with non-violent harassment of him, but the case against her was dropped.

Mr James has been the focus of illegal payments as well.

The Assistant Auditor General for Wales, Anthony Barrett, has ruled that payments made to him directly instead of to a local authority pension fund were unlawful. Mr Barrett also ruled in a public interest report that the council had acted unlawfully by funding the libel claim Mr James won against Ms Thompson.

She is not alone though, and Mr James’ tenure at the council has not always been welcomed.

Anthony Barrett – ‘unlawful payments’

Some have described him as a “great leader”, but one former councillor had a slightly different view. When his retirement was announced, Sian Caiach said:  (He is) rather arrogant and a control freak and vicious…”

Mr James was listed as a trustee of a headline-grabbing scheme in Kuwait that investigators are examining along with the main contentious £1.3 billion project in South West Wales, yet his role was not actually listed in the authority’s declaration of interests.

Was it ‘selfish’ not wanting to see the Swansea Bay City Deal succeed?

Even so Mr James generated a huge amount of publicity in the mainstream media by stating how he believed a participant in the Swansea Bay City Deal did not want it to succeed for “selfish” and “petty” reasons. Mr James did not name the organisation but claimed people were “going out of their way” to “make sure it didn’t happen”.

Our journalists have been alone in the Welsh media in questioning these comments.

For the entire project is at the heart of inquiries, and five executives at one of the ‘partners’, Swansea University, including the former Vice-Chancellor (VC) Richard Davies and the Dean of his School of Management Marc Clement, have been relieved of their duties as the examination continues.

Suspended former Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Richard Davies and the School of Management Dean Marc Clement – a ‘witch-hunt’?

Carmarthenshire’s flagship project within it – a proposed £225m ‘Wellness Village’ in Llanelli – has been particularly contentious following the suspension of the Swansea staff linked to it. Neighbouring Neath Port Talbot Council has threatened to pull out of the City Deal, citing the cost of bureaucracy and issues of confidence in governance.

Despite this a scurrilous and libellous internal campaign has been conducted by someone calling him or herself ‘Your friend’ within Swansea University, who is sending anonymous gmails supporting the alarming scheme to staff at the institution as well as the Welsh First Minister.

Who is ‘Your friend’?

One from a ‘Lady Righteous’ account, stated:  “The incredible opportunity represented by the Kuwait project has been lost to another country”. In another gmail, ‘Your friend’ has tendentiously asked:  Why is this witch hunt … still continuing?” and alleged that there had been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews”. Previous gmails have claimed that the VC had been crucified during the investigation.

A Freedom of Information request about convicted fraudster Chan was refused

The stunning crusade at the scandal-hit university also forms a worrying backdrop to our exclusive disclosure that officials there had employed a fraudster called Steve Chan who used to work on a contract at the institution’s management school, and after we had revealed how a previous Dean accused of bullying had died.

The Eye showed how Chan had even represented the university in advising an international agency on the ways to combat fraud. Chan had been imprisoned by a court in Boston for four years and three months, and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation. His jail term was followed by three years of supervised release, after he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of mail fraud, he was also ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.

What is going on at Swansea University?!

Meanwhile the extraordinary anonymous campaign at Swansea University has continued in support of a scheme under investigation which Mr James apparently wants to ‘succeed’.

One gmail from ‘Your friend’ was sent, as before, to the university’s Chair of council and staff, coming from another created address which has been used in the past, called ‘Lilith Sumerian’. Others have also been employed including ‘The iniquities Of the selfish’ (that word again) and ‘Ivs Titia’

Alison Jones did not want the job

A senior academic called Alison Jones from an Australian university who was slated to become the new VC at Swansea, turned the job down. An internal gmail in the astonishing campaign soon followed.

This libellous message from ‘Your friend’ said in part: “To lose one VC is unfortunate, to lose a second before she even starts must (say) something about the priorities and competence of whoever is responsible for such processes. It is time to save your university”.

You need to sit down when you get a message from ‘Your friend’

A volley of internal messages from ‘Your friend’ followed the news of the appointment of Paul Boyle who is leaving his £285,000 a year job in charge of the University of Leicester to become VC at Swansea University. These gmails were marked from a ‘Themis Titaness’ address and one came in the form of a spoof letter congratulating Professor Boyle on his appointment, but, along with the ones from the ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’ address, it had also been sent to the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.

There is nothing to smile about at Swansea University for Paul Boyle

It said:  “The transformed University which you applied to lead remains there, though is suffering internally and publicly under the weight of such deceit”.

Another defamatory message, was also sent to workers, and included criticism of an identifiable individual. It asked one-sidedly:  “When will you explain that a never ending smear investigation is an appropriate use of charity funds? When will you accept the damage to the university will cost jobs?”.

Book posterA past statement to staff using the ‘Iniquities Of the selfish’ address was highly-libellous too, and the only part of this gmail we can reproduce is:  “It is time you step up to your responsibilities and take control of the situation“.

It seems that one blogger who has attacked a former council Chief Executive for his behaviour has also taken ‘control of the situation’.

 

Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major new book A Good Story’. Order the book now. The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!

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