Stirring the witches brew

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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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Emiliano Sala – tragic

A key phrase is back in the news.

A ‘super-agent’ who was central in the transfer to Cardiff City of tragic footballer Emiliano Sala stands accused of fraud but claims he is victim of a “witch hunt”Willie McKay has represented many high-profile football stars and last week denied at Manchester Magistrates’ Court two charges under the Insolvency Act.

Agent Willie McKay – a ‘witch hunt’

Mr McKay was part of the controversial deal to bring Sala to Wales in a record signing for the club, and will now appear at Manchester Crown Court next month but has denied the charges against him.

Sala, who was just 28, and his pilot, crashed on January 21 while travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff. Toxicology tests on Sala’s body showed carbon monoxide levels in his blood were so great that they could have caused a seizure, unconsciousness or a heart attack.

Richard Davies – ‘gross misconduct’

Identical words to those used by Mr Mckay have been part of the extraordinary controversy at scandal-hit Swansea University, where the police are investigating alleged bribery in a multi-million pound land deal and senior officials including the Vice-Chancellor (VC) Richard Davies, have been sacked for “gross misconduct”.

An anonymous and highly-libellous computer campaign defending the contentious deal was launched by ‘Your friend’ with astounding messages sent to staff, senior Welsh politicians and journalists.

Your friend
The anonymous campaigner at Swansea University has also targeted our Editor apart from calling the investigation a ‘witch hunt’

One of the messages claimed:  Why is this witch hunt … still continuing?” before we were the first to report that a SIXTH senior official had been suspended as the top-level probe was conducted.

The former Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and controversial US President Donald Trump, have also both claimed they are victims of a ‘witch hunt’. The headline-grabbing Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has employed the term too, as protests grow in the country’s capital against corruption and fraud.

Professor Richard Davies (bottom left) with other members of the ‘Wellness’ team

Your friend’ at Swansea University, who headlined one of his or her anonymous gmails to staff and senior politicians ‘Smokescreen’, said the referral to the police was a ‘waste’ of 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
unexpectedly”.

It was claimed Hilary Lappin-Scott would lead them to ‘an era of gold and honey’

Although misspelt, support was clear in this supposed ‘witch hunt’ for contentious ex-Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott who we exclusively revealed has now left. The ‘Your friend’ message said:  “Only Hillary (sic) can save Professor Boyle (new Vice-Chancellor {VC} at Swansea Universityfrom the same incompetents that undermined Richard Davies’ stellar transformation of your Institution for the Region”.

But The Eye have shown how Professor Lappin-Scott enraged her own staff by sending tweets from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’, and her exploits have become the subject of our satirical writer. Despite this the anonymous communications have claimed in the past that Professor Lappin-Scott would lead the university to “an era of gold and honey”.

Sacked former Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Richard Davies and the ex-School of Management Dean Marc Clement are under investigation

Apart from the suspension of Professor Davies, the Dean of his School of Management, Marc Clement, has also been dismissed and is under investigation, as well as several other top-level officials during the astonishing ‘witch hunt’ inquiry into the multi-million pound Llanelli ‘Wellness Village’ land deal where the police have been called in.

The troubled institution has confirmed that apart from looking into the campaign itself, the police were involved in investigating the alleged bribery during the so-called ‘witch hunt’.

What is going on at Swansea University?!

An official 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.”

‘Your friend’ has said in the past that Andrew Rhodes was ‘shameless’

This statement included another libellous message from ‘Your friend’ which was sent from the invented address ‘Vanitas Vanitatum’, an earlier one to staff at the institution concerned an awards ceremony, and said:  “… 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”, adding:  “I am sure you will all join me in congratulating him (Professor Clement).

Is there really a ‘witch hunt’ underway?

The remarkable official statement was Swansea University’s first formal response to the anonymous computer messages sent out by ‘Your friend’ in the ‘witch hunt’ campaign, saying to staff and others that many of the ‘facts’ were incorrect. Officials included the latest gmail/email, and said that it would be referred to the police, along with all the previous ones.

The university’s response read:  “The below email has been referred to the police to consider, together with the previous anonymous emails that the University’s staff and others have received”.

The stunning ‘witch hunt’ campaign 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 were alone in revealing 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.

A further gmail which was sent in the unbelievable campaign undertaken by ‘Your friend’ at the university claimed that previous messages were “blocked”, and again alleged that 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.

The anonymous internal campagner said Sir Roger Jones should look into it

The scurrilous gmail 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?”.

Another message in the hours afterwards was, like the most recent ones, addressed to the Chair of the university council Sir Roger Jones, as well as staff, and attached a letter from ‘Your friend’ purportedly raising worries about public procurement. It said:  “Dear friends.  I write with concern … about Public Procurement Regulations”. This gmail was marked ‘Saint Homobonus’ and delivered from the address ‘patron of procurement’.

Reporters in the mainstream Welsh media have only partially covered what is happening

But the campaign inside Swansea University alleging a ‘witch hunt’ has been covered only partially by the mainstream media, and has been conducted ever since the incredible investigation was launched.

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?”.

Is it a ‘kangaroo court’ AND a ‘witch hunt’ as said in the anonymous computer campaign by ‘Your friend’?

Another added:  “Appended below you can find the previous installments (American spelling) and claims 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 gmail was clear in the search for a new VC: “Please Hillary (sic) (Lappin-Scott) out (put?) your hat back in the ring!”.

The ‘university’ project in Kuwait – legal action may follow

In one of the internal gmails during the ‘witch hunt’, following disclosures about a ‘university’ project in Kuwait, which forms part of the investigation along with the ‘Wellness village’, and was headlined ‘destruction of value and relationships’, a further series of unlawful claims against a named individual were made, and among the few lines we can publish is:  “I am confident we should expect retaliation by the Kuwaitis”.

The law could be brought in

A response from the Kuwait Innovative Group (KIG) was reported afterwards, and following it Swansea University decided not to continue with the project. Further action may follow. KIG told the university it would take legal steps for a full refund of a “sensitive” document’s £600,000 cost. The group claims the document was leaked and is also considering action for loss of potential investment and damage to reputation.

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 have 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’ 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”.

Perhaps those officials too think they are victims of a ‘witch hunt’…

 

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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