The parliamentary leader of a Welsh political party engaged on social media with a ‘comedian’ who made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, has in the past used bad language on the platform to abuse other prominent politicians, was placed under police investigation, and been blocked on Twitter by one of the biggest broadcasters in the UK, The Eye can reveal.
In reply to ‘media entrepreneur’ Huw Marshall (who also attempted to close down this website) Liz Saville Roberts (the leader of nationalist party Plaid Cymru [PC] MPs), said in Welsh: “Merlan las hyfryd. Dalai ati, Betsi” (“Lovely blue pony. Hold on, Betsi”).
However Mr Marshall is a highly controversial figure exposed by The Eye, after disturbing revelations were made about him by our journalists, and he might be seen as an odd personality for a prominent politician to hold a public conversation with.
He has been described as the “driving force” for new ‘national’ newspaper in Wales called The National (TN), but he was severely reprimanded by Twitter because one of his accounts “violated the Twitter Rules”, and it found that another, ‘Welsh Bollocks’, had also broken their regulations.
On this social media platform as well, (before the official rebuke), he told South Wales Police (SWP), that he intended to make a complaint, however officers responded by informing him that they have a “responsibility to investigate any reports”.
In 2013, it was disclosed that Mr Marshall had used Twitter to make extremely offensive remarks to senior politicians other than Ms Saville Roberts, and complaints after further comments led to the admonishment.
One insult eight years ago, was directed at the Labour MS and minister Ken Skates with another hurled at the former Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black.
After Mr Skates tweeted in celebration of a one-vote council by-election victory over PC in Ruabon, Mr Marshall referred to him in his own tweet as a “gloating t**t”, and he described Mr Black as a “humourless t..t” as well as a “dull, tedious t..t”.
Comments like these also came amid other headline-grabbing remarks made by him online.
Two people had died and a police officer lost the sight in both eyes when murdering gunman Raoul Moat shot them, yet despite this on July 8, 2010 – with him trying to escape from armed police – Mr Marshall published a message on his Facebook (FB) site, reading: “Hi I’m a sexy 19 year old blond (sic) from the North East of England looking for some fun.
Another post read: “Moat reward… if he isn’t caught by next Wednesday, the rewards (sic) being doubled. It’s going to be a Raul (sic) over”.
A few weeks ago, Mr Marshall also used Twitter to show a photograph of an unappetising-looking piece of bacon, saying allegedly humorously: “it’s an 18+ month old dressing that was pulled out of the tiny hole that remains of my umbilical hernia wound. Hoping to have the rest removed shortly in the hospital” (crying with laughter emojis), and in another tweet he showed (again supposedly funnily) the same picture of curled bacon, and wrote: “Tonight’s quiz…. Guess the foreign object….” (crying with laughter emoji).
However one outraged journalist who saw the tweets, told The Eye: “These pictures are revolting. It calls into question him being the man who started that newspaper (TN)“.
Meanwhile, it is a fundamental tenet of news journalism, as well, to be entirely neutral, and this could be crucial for TN. Yet this may be difficult with Mr Marshall (who has been described as a “chancer” on Twitter) on board, as he has stood for a political party in the past. In 1992 he was PC’s Parliamentary candidate in Cardiff Central, coming fourth with just 748 votes, however his plans to stand for election as a councillor were scuppered when it emerged that he had posted the so-called ‘jokes’ about rampaging gunman Moat, and published the abusive remarks to senior politicians on social media.
His earlier media ‘venture’ New Media Wales (NMW), or the ‘pilot’ for TN, has also made headlines, with the ‘stories’ being described in Private Eye as “cut and pasted from other news organisations”, and they have been highlighted, too, by The Eye. He has published an article about a doctor learning Welsh, which bore a striking resemblance to an item on the website of a centre which teaches the language to adults, called Nant Gwrtheyrn.
Apart from being reprimanded by Twitter Mr Marshall has also been blocked by one of the biggest broadcasters in the UK because of his behaviour, underlining the bizarre nature of being the subject of a reply on social media by a prominent politician.
In banning Mr Marshall ITV Football warned him recently: “You are blocked from following @itvfootball and viewing @itvfootball’s Tweets”.
He has often hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, and has said on Twitter about The Eye’s revelations: “…the time will shortly come when lawyers get involved”.
Evidently our Editor, Phil Parry, has become something of a thorn in Mr Marshall’s side, because he says he has a number of different Twitter accounts, but claims he reserves one for ‘stories’ which may bother him, saying “@marshallmedia is where I post Everton related stuff and things that upsets Phil Parry”.
Mr Marshall also says he has contacted the police but that there is little they can do as “it is a waste of their precious time”, and “I really pity those who try to undermine my work and reputation”.
In trying to have The Eye closed down, Mr Marshall alleged “violent threats and harassment” when there have been no threats of violence from our journalists, and the only harassment has come from him after he used social media to dub senior Welsh politicians apart from Ms Saville Roberts, “twats”, and Mr Parry a “liar”.
In response to the demand that we should be shut, the reply was made that: “Huw Marshall has: 1. Been investigated by the police for harassment. 2. Made sick ‘jokes’ on Facebook about the murdering gunman Raoul Moat. 3. Called senior politicians Ken Skates and Peter Black ‘twats’ online. 4. Been reprimanded by Twitter. 5. Sent unwanted takeaways to people’s houses”.
A potential supporter of one of Mr Marshall’s media ‘ventures’, declared on Twitter that he wanted it to be “unbiased” and not “nationalist” – possibly ignorant of the ‘co-ordinator’s’ background, after he stood as a candidate for PC in Cardiff Central in 1992 when he came fourth. The worried critic said on Twitter: “I really hope it will be unbiased and not rammed with the anti-government nationalist diatribe from another Welsh news outlet…” and Mr Marshall answered: “Our main aim isn’t to tell people what to think…”.
Ms Saville Roberts is not, though, the only senior politician to have engaged with Mr Marshall.
The headline-grabbing Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) member for Blaenau Gwent, Alun Davies, MS, declared on Twitter about TN: “Well. I wish you best of luck with this initiative. Anything to strengthen our news environment should receive a warm welcome”.
A ‘warm welcome’ was given, as well, to the ‘pilot’ for the venture which was wished “Best of luck” by Welsh Government (WG) minister Lee Waters.
The newspaper Mr Marshall is behind (TN) is no less controversial.
Through the Newsquest Media Group (NMG), it is ultimately owned by the giant American corporation Gannett Incorporated, a mass media firm headquartered in McLean, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, which is the largest newspaper publisher in America. This link, though, has made many potential supporters uneasy, and its behaviour has been highlighted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
It was reported that the NUJ was celebrating union recognition of local democracy reporters, and this came hard on the heels of other alarming headlines. In July it was published that the NMG furlough scheme was a “waiting room for redundancy” with at least 38 journalism jobs at risk, and in March of the previous year the NUJ criticised plans to cut staff in Brighton, South London and North Wales, which was to lead to an overall headcount reduction of six.
The worrying aspect of this ‘partnership’ has also been highlighted by David Nicholson on Twitter, who is the NUJ’s National Executive Council (NEC) member for Wales.
As NMG, Gannett owns a host of Welsh titles including The South Wales Argus in Newport, yet it has often made troubling news. In May 2019 under the headline “NUJ speaks up for Newsquest journalists at Gannett AGM” details were released that “…the union remains seriously concerned by Gannett’s stewardship of Newsquest, its relentless job cutting programme, a looming hostile takeover bid and the dire conditions facing journalists who work for the UK company”.
Plainly the connection with Gannett Co., Inc, is also making those people uncomforable who might otherwise have supported the venture. One said on Twitter “for me it’s important to be owned and run in Wales”.
Another stated: “He’s (the ‘driving force’ for the ‘project’, Mr Marshall) been saying for a while that there is a “Partner” on board……I assumed that it was a local, welsh business……but it does indeed look like it is News quest! !”.
A detractor said on Twitter: “Why are we having to use a London based company?”. A different critic declared: “Gotta be honest, a London-headquarterd media outlet is not at all what I thought I was supporting, purported editorial freedom or nay. I have some reasonably major reservations”.
There could be reservations too, about the parliamentary leader of a political party engaging on social media with a ‘comedian’ who made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, has used bad language on the same platform to abuse other leading politicians, was placed under police investigation, and been blocked on Twitter by one of the biggest broadcasters in the UK.
But then politics is a strange business…
Tomorrow – why an extraordinary internal battle ripping apart the Welsh independence and nationalist movements, which has only been reported by The Eye, has surfaced again amid revelations of ‘harassment’, and ‘abuse’.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his astonishing decades long, award-winning career in journalism (which includes some of the political stories he has covered, and came before the advent of TN) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!