No smoke without fire

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Phil Parry is a former BBC news and current affairs reporter. He is winner of the BT Wales award for journalist of the year, BT Wales TV reporter of the year and radio reporter of the year.
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Your friend
Who is ‘Your friend’

A response came almost immediately in the long-running dirty tricks campaign at a controversial Welsh university which we have been alone in reporting, after staff were notified that police had been asked to investigate, and that officers had also been called in during the top-level inquiry into a questionable multi-million pound land deal during which senior officials have been suspended, The Eye can disclose.

‘Your friend’ claimed the police were NOT involved

But ‘Your friend’ at Swansea University, who headlined his or her latest anonymous computer message to staff and senior politicians ‘Smokescreen’, said it was a ‘waste’ of police time.

He or she added:  “This must of course be difficult, having lost the Chair of
Finance Committee last year and, more recently, the Director of
Finance
 (see The Eye next week), unexpectedly”.

‘Your friend’ said Hilary Lappin-Scott’s ‘global recognition’ had been ‘negated’

Although misspelt, support was clear for contentious Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott. The ‘Your friend’ message said:  “Only Hillary can save Professor Boyle (new Vice-Chancellor {VC}) from the same incompetents that undermined Richard Davies’ (suspended VC) stellar transformation of your Institution for the Region”.

Apart from the suspension of Professor Davies, the Dean of his School of Management, Marc Clement has also been suspended, as well as several other senior officials during the extraordinary continuing inquiry into the Llanelli ‘Wellness Village’ project which has been referred to the police. Previous messages have alleged that Professor Davies has been ‘crucified’ during the investigation.

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

The anonymous ‘Your friend’ message came late last night after the astonishing statement yesterday morning from the troubled institution, confirming for the first time that apart from looking into the campaign, the police were involved too in investigating serious issues that have come to light during the probe.

The statement from Swansea’s ‘Associate Director Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Head of Legal and Compliance Services’ stated :  Alongside the University’s internal disciplinary process, there is also on-going police involvement (i) with regard to the issues uncovered during the University’s investigation; and (ii) anonymous communications sent to University staff relating to the suspensions and disciplinary processes.

“The matters under investigation are very serious. The University has invested a significant amount of resource investigating the alleged misconduct, as have the authorities. It is essential that nothing is done to undermine the on-going processes. They must be allowed to run their course without interference.”

The university has come under attack from ‘Your friend’

An anonymous ‘Your friend’ message which was attached came from a ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’ address, which was also used to attack the statement.

The attached message alleged that:  “Swansea university are prepared to dismiss their Vice Chancellor and Vice President for not declaring their interests properly”.

Other invented addresses like ‘Ivs Titia’ have been used by ‘Your friend’

It claimed the investigation had involved huge costs and included “malice and incompetence”. The message started ‘Dear Friends’ and also said: “After six months, hundreds of thousands of pounds and the thrashing (trashing?) of your Institution’s reputation, your Magic Circle firm has pulled a dead rabbit out of the hat”.

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

This, like others in the campaign, had also been sent to the left wing First Minister of Wales (FM) Mark Drakeford who is at the centre of a huge storm over his problematic decision to scrap plans for an M4 relief road to the south of Newport, even though the planning inspector had recommended it. The message had also been sent to members of the media, although we have been alone in reporting it.

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

Steve Chan – why did Swansea University employ a convicted fraudster?

We 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.

Another gmail in the unbelievable campaign from ‘Your friend’ which the police are now looking into, was sent, like the others, to the university’s Chair of council Sir Roger Jones and staff, coming from a further created address which has also been used in the past, called ‘Lilith Sumerian’. Others have been employed including ‘The iniquities Of the selfish’ and ‘Ivs Titia’.

The mainstream media in Wales have ignored the anonymous campaign

All have been ignored by the mainstream media in Wales even though some of the messages have been sent directly to them.

An earlier gmail from the ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’ address about a recent award ceremony was once more misspelt, but stated: “… your Registrar (Andrew Rhodes) was shamelessly picking up Prof Richard Davies’s award – clearly he made (Pro Vice-Chancellor [PVC]) Hillary (Lappin-Scott) stay at home”. And added:  “I am sure you will all join me in congratulating him (Professor Clement).

Is it a ‘kangaroo court’ as said in the anonymous computer campaign?

In one of the messages, ‘Your friend’ has claimed:  Why is this witch hunt … still continuing?” and that there has been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews”.

Another, highly-libellous, message was also sent to workers, and included criticism of an identifiable individual.  It asked tendentiously:  “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?” A past message 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“.

A further one which was sent in the astounding campaign undertaken by ‘Your friend’ at the university alleged that previous messages were “blocked” and that again a “witch hunt” was underway. This one was also addressed to the university’s council members and was headlined “More truth”. It was another which came from a ‘Lilith Sumerian’ address.

Are there really witch-hunts underway?

The scurrilous message included attachments, and a section of it read:  “Last week’s email was blocked – here it is below for completeness’ sake. Ask yourself: what else is the leadership keeping from you?… Why is this witch hunt therefore still continuing?”.

The campaign inside Swansea University which has been completely ignored by the mainstream media, appears to be designed to undermine the incredible inquiry underway and boost the reputations of those who have been suspended, as well as key senior executives such as the antagonistic senior PVC Professor Lappin-Scott (another recipient of the anonymous computer messages).

Hilary Lappin-Scott would lead the university to an ‘era of gold and honey’ according to ‘Your friend’

Yet The Eye have shown how Professor Lappin-Scott enraged her own workers by sending tweets from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’, and her exploits have become the subject of our satirical writer.

The anonymous communications have claimed in the past that Professor Lappin-Scott would lead the university to “an era of gold and honey”. In part, one recent gmail to staff as well as the Chair of the Swansea University’s council read:   “Why are these things happening and being leaked to Sion Barry (the Western Mail Business Editor) and, in turn, (our Editor) Phil Parry (someone trolling Professor Hillary {sic} Lappin-Scott) whilst in the middle of an independent internal investigation?”.

Does ‘Your friend’ know the law?

Another added:  “Appended below you can find the previous installments (American spelling) and alleges there has been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews – almost as if the facts were at odds with the desired outcome”. Although again misspelt a further note was clear: “Please Hillary (sic) (Lappin-Scott) out (put?) your hat back in the ring!”.

We were ‘vexatious’ apparently…

It is alleged that legal rules may have been flouted, and ‘Your friend’ also appears to be unaware of them because as the gmails he or she has sent were published to a third party they fall within the remit of libel laws. If this person can be found legal action could follow.

University officials have been less keen than ‘Your friend’, though, to give The Eye information – this time about Chan’s background, and we have been told in the past our questions about him in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been refused on the grounds they were “vexatious”.

‘Your friend’ evidently does not think the campaign is ‘vexatious’ – even though the police have now been called in.

 

Book posterOur 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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