A hugely controversial sports personality was chosen as the ‘star’ mystery runner in a Welsh ‘fun run’ event, The Eye can reveal.
Ex-Wales women’s football captain Laura McAllister, was named to take part in the Nos Galan race which has been run in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, on New Year’s Eve since 1958.
However organisers may have been unaware that Professor McAllister has been at the centre of a series of worrying incidents, including interviewing an ‘expert’ who was later exposed as a paedophile and is now serving a long prison sentence.
She talked to the notorious ex-lobbyist Daran Hill about electoral reform on Senedd tv, but he was jailed, after admitting two counts of distributing indecent images of children and three counts of making them.
Apart from appearing on television with Mr Hill, Professor McAllister also went to Qatar to cheer on the Welsh football team at the World Cup (WC) there but fell foul of the authorities for wearing the wrong kind of hat.
To observers, publicly announcing her attendance at the WC seemed strange, as her sexuality (she is gay) would be treated as a crime in the country.
One outraged reader showed his concern in a piece about her on the nationalist website Nation.Cymru (NC). The site has been accused of being a mouth piece for Plaid Cymru (Plaid), and is supported by the taxpayer through the Welsh Government (WG), unlike The Eye.
He wrote underneath it: “It seems to me practically every TV programme produced by BBC Wales that requires an opinion on Wales (Welsh elections, Welsh Government policy, Welsh football) Laura McAllister is there. And now she’s off to Qatar to represent us. is there anything she can’t do?”.
Professor McAllister has also publicised the fact that she is a “Welsh woman” and that the BBC Proms made her feel like a “foreign tourist”, yet this was distasteful to many people in Wales.
Several years ago, Professor McAllister had written in her regular Welsh newspaper column: “I do realise that my national identity has been shaped and expressed largely through sport, but the Proms’ Union Jack waving (albeit with a smattering of European, Welsh and Scottish flags mixed in) and Rule Britannia make me feel like a foreign tourist”.
However maybe there was ignorance about these incidents among organisers, because the Chair of the Nos Galan committee, Ann Crimmings, said: “We have made it to 65 years – what a landmark! Year after year the streets of Mountain Ash have been filled with spectators as runners from all over the world keep the legend alive.
“What better way to celebrate 65 years than by having two (the other was Gareth Thomas) of the most important sporting figures in Welsh culture join us as mystery runners”.
This glowing reference was emphasised by the BBC.
Reports of her appearance at the race on the corporation’s website stated: “In 2023, McAllister became the first Welsh person to secure a place on Uefa’s executive committee and is also an academic and public policy professor at Cardiff University“.
But here too there are controversies.
Professor McAllister wears her Welsh nationalism on her sleeve, and received support in her UEFA bid from the disgraced former newsreader Huw Edwards, who has flouted impartiality guidelines by publicly supporting the nationalist cause in Wales.
Mr Edwards stated on Twitter/X, initially ironically: “Obviously I’m impartial —- but GO LAURA” with a Welsh flag after the comment.
But perhaps she might not have wanted this kind of endorsement, because Mr Edwards was later named as the presenter who had been suspended for allegedly paying £35,000 to a teenager in exchange for sexually explicit images, and ‘mental health issues’ were raised about him by his wife.
The phrase is: “ignorance is bliss”, but maybe it is not so blissful for the organisers of a famous Welsh fun run, when a contentious sports personality was chosen as the ‘star’ mystery runner.
The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (when controversial individuals were NOT lauded) as he was gripped by the rare and incurable neurological disease Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now.
Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.
Tomorrow – how after a 23 year career with the BBC, and 40 years in journalism, (when he was trained to use clear and simple language, avoiding jargon), Phil has (almost) become used to the abuse he suffers, although this has become worse recently with the rise of the internet, and it is now highlighted by the latest extraordinary salvo launched at the Welsh Government (WG).