Here our Editor Phil Parry looks at how some media outlets ignore the real story.
Earlier he has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Cymru Wales TV Current Affairs series he presented for 10 years, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
It is rare for a UK newspaper to include supportive comments from an academic who is at the centre of a huge police investigation into alleged fraud without mentioning the inquiry.
Yet that is exactly what happened in The Sunday Times (ST) yesterday.
Marc Clement formerly head of Swansea University’s School of Management, who was sacked for “gross misconduct” in a scandal first revealed by The Eye, was cited as a case in an article about minor successes in financing small businesses.
It proclaimed: “Marc Clement (is) co-founder of Calon Cardio in Swansea … His company has created cutting-edge implantable heart pumps yet has constantly struggled to find investors. He has raised a “very modest” £12m.”. The ‘story’ continued: ‘“It’s extraordinarily frustrating,” said Clement. “The potential upside is truly enormous.”’.
Perhaps investors into Calon Cardio (such as the Development Bank) might like to know a little more about the background of this ‘co-founder’ because they certainly wouldn’t get it from The Sunday Times report.
Professor Clement is at the heart of a major police probe into alleged fraud during a mammoth land deal – and this did not appear in the article at all.
As part of the inquiry, properties in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Kent have been searched, and South Wales Police have said the regional crime unit executed “a number of warrants as part of an investigation into alleged bribery offences. Seven addresses in Swansea, Carmarthenshire, and Kent are being searched with the assistance of colleagues”.
The searches involved officers from South Wales, Dyfed Powys as well as Kent Police forces, and follow a complaint from Swansea University (SU) to the Serious Fraud Office in late 2018 which was referred to the police.
The university sacked the former Vice-Chancellor (VC) Richard Davies and Professor Clement, after the results became known of an independent disciplinary panel, following an in-depth examination of the facts carried out by an employment law QC. The pair were initially suspended along with two other members of staff in the university’s contentious management school.
The investigation was being carried out as an astonishing and highly defamatory internal computer campaign by someone calling him or herself ‘Your friend’, was launched to undermine it and support Professors Clement and Davies as well as others, which has been only partly covered by mainstream media like The Sunday Times.
Part of one of the libellous messages from ‘Your friend’ stated: “As your Institution’s suspensions farce continues through its eight(h) month, you may wish to reflect on the person responsible for it and the standard of professional conduct (he) deem(s) appropriate”. It included an official UK Government document naming Andrew Rhodes, the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at Swansea University (SU), adding tendentiously: “Properly declaring interest to your employer and following the rules are important things; pity not everybody manages to do this”. A senior police source told The Eye exclusively at the time: “We will be looking closely at this to see whether any laws have been broken”.
After the UK Government document was included, the message continued: “If you hold him (Mr Rhodes) to the same standard, now is the time for the ready-made Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Registrar, Professor Steve Wilkes, to support your new Vice Chancellor (VC) to deliver once again an era of unimaginable gold and honey, interrupted following the appointment of your current Registrar.
“Only this can stop the exodus involving (Pro Vice-Chancellor [PVC]) Professor Hillary Lappin-Scott and your Director of Finance (who were leaving or had left) – or, has the latter been deported?”.
The phrase ‘gold and honey’ has been used before during the anonymous campaign at SU – in reference to support for contentious Professor Lappin-Scott, mentioned by ‘Your friend’, who we first revealed had announced that she was leaving the troubled institution, and in a note to staff admitted that it had been a “challenging” time. This, along with the departure of the Finance Director, is the ‘exodus’ described in the anonymous campaign.
The computer operation at SU ran in parallel with the police inquiry, and previous messages have alleged that Professor Davies had been ‘crucified’ during the investigation. Another internal computer gmail to workers at SU, senior politicians and journalists during it asked sarcastically: “Will there be a new rebuttal by Swansea University’s expanding PR team, now made up of xxxx, Sion Barry (the Western Mail Business Editor) Phil Parry, or have they referred this matter to MI5 and (convicted fraudster) Steve Chan?”.
One of the messages in the remarkable campaign, also came from the invented gmail address Vanitas Vanitatum, and ‘told’ staff: “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”. It claimed the investigation had involved huge costs and included “malice and incompetence”.
A further gmail was sent, like the others, to the university’s Chair of council Sir Roger Jones and staff as well as to senior politicians and journalists, coming from a different created address which had also been used in the past, called ‘Lilith Sumerian’. Others were also employed including ‘The iniquities Of the selfish’ and ‘Ivs Titia’.
As with events at other universities in Wales, all of these gmails as well as the anonymous campaign itself, have been mainly disregarded by the mainstream media (just as The Sunday Times did Professor Clement’s astoundng background) even though some of the messages had been sent directly to reporters.
An earlier gmail from the ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’ address about a recent award ceremony was also libellous, as well as being misspelt, and stated: “… your Registrar (Andrew Rhodes) was shamelessly picking up Prof Richard Davies’s (the dismissed one time VC) award – clearly he made (former PVC) Hillary (Lappin-Scott) stay at home” and stated: “I am sure you will all join me in congratulating him (Professor Clement).
In one of the messages, ‘Your friend’ had claimed: “Why is this witch hunt … still continuing?” and that there had been “A trial by media, a kangaroo court, a selection of evidence and suspensions before interviews”.
Journalists at The Eye were also the only ones to report the first official response to the campaign from SU’s ‘Associate Director Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Head of Legal and Compliance Services’ stating: “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.”
Before the campaign, the website showed how the institution had employed a convicted fraudster called Steve Chan (which was mentioned in the anonymous computer messages) who used to work on a contract at the management school, and began after we had exclusively revealed that a previous Dean there accused of bullying had died.
The Eye were alone, too, in disclosing how Chan had been imprisoned for four years and three months, and ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation. His jail term imposed at Boston law courts 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. The Eye showed that Chan had even represented the university in advising an international agency on the ways to combat fraud.
But university officials were less keen than the anonymous campaigner to give The Eye information – this time about Chan’s background, and I have been told in the past questions about him in a legal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been refused on the grounds they were “vexatious”.
It is also ‘vexatious’ to read the way the UK media is quoting a man who was sacked for “gross misconduct” and who is at the centre of an enormous police investigation into alleged fraud, without mentioning this information…
Tomorrow – after The Eye revealed disturbing details about Wales’s biggest airport, why there could be more shocking news on the horizon for jobs in the country.
Phil’s memories of his extraordinary 37-year award-winning career in journalism (which usually uncovered the REAL facts behind a story), as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!