Swans way new tricks

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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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Alison Jones withdrew

Within hours of the shock news emerging that a leading academic had withdrawn after being offered the job to take over at a scandal-hit Welsh university where the Vice-Chancellor (VC) has been suspended, it became the focus of a long-running libellous dirty tricks campaign which The Eye have been alone in revealing.

The sudden withdrawal of Alison Jones to take the top job at controversial Swansea University came after we disclosed that apart from suspending her potential predecessor, officials had employed a crook, refused to divulge information about him and launched an extraordinary top-level investigation into a questionable multi-million pound land deal.

Sir Roger Jones has been the main recipient of the ‘Your friend’ emails

The morning after the disturbing news about Professor Jones of Wollongong University in Australia was reported in the media, the scurrilous campaign continued with another anonymous email to the chair of the university’s council Sir Roger Jones and staff at the headline-grabbing institution, appearing to support once more a contentious senior executive who we showed had enraged her workers by sending Twitter notifications from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’.

‘Your friend’ likes sending emails…

Although mis-spelt the email was clear: “Please Hillary (sic) (Lappin-Scott) out (put?) your hat back in the ring!”.

Earlier anonymous ‘Your friend’ emails have also supported Hilary Lappin-Scott as well as the suspended VC of Swansea UniversityRichard Davies, who has announced his retirement.

Would Hilary Lappin-Scott lead Swansea University to an era of ‘gold and honey’?

Using several email addresses they have claimed in the past she would lead the institution to “an era of gold and honey”.

In part one recent message to staff and Sir Roger 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?”.

As our journalists have exclusively shown a previous ‘Your friend’ email came in the form of a spoof letter ‘congratulating’ Professor Lappin-Scott on an alleged appointment.

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

It included previous messages, and in full stated:  “Dear Hillary (sic), Congratulations on the appointment.  Please, tweet your success and update your Wikipedia page. Your Registrar can advise on that..(libel)..Your friend  P.S.: I hope you will appoint Phil Parry as Director of Communications. That will be one in “the eye” for her friends in the East!”.

It 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”.

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

Workers at Swansea have been ‘informed’: “P.S.: I remind you of the plea for Professor Richard B Davies’ reinstatement in time for the Graduation Ceremony – do not forget to vote (it is completely anonymous!)”.

The disturbing news is set against a worrying background of the university employing a so-called academic called Steve Chan at its scandalous School of Management even after he had been sentenced to many years in jail in America.

Steve Chan – Swansea said they were so ‘proud’ of him

We have been alone in publishing information about Chan, who had been imprisoned following a massive fraud yet was employed by Swansea on a contract, before moving to another company, and went to live with his mother in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Chan had been jailed 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.

Yet on March 1 2016 Chan appeared as a panellist representing Swansea University at a St. David’s Day event in Brussels called “Digital Destination:  Creating Value and Improving Lives’.

Chan spoke at a conference representing Swansea University

But the university appears to keep hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons even after the Chan episode, with now the scurrilous dirty tricks campaign being conducted as top executives have jockeyed for position to take over at the institution, and which is designed to undermine the investigation into an extremely controversial regeneration scheme.

Professors Clement (top middle) and Davies (bottom left) with other members of the’Wellness’ team

The email campaign makes libellous allegations and has been completely ignored by the mainstream media.

Swansea University itself says it will not comment.

We were the first to break the news that the unparalleled suspension of Professor Davies at Swansea as well as his senior officials, and the remarkable investigation launched at the same time, was linked to a massive £200 million regeneration scheme called the Delta Lakes (Llanelli Wellness Village) City Deal and the whole project has been referred to the police.

The misnamed ‘Wellness’ village under investigation

Apart from the ‘Wellness’ village, the university’s involvement in another enormous plan – this time overseas – is also part of the investigation.

Senior officers are examining a ‘joint venture’ in a £600 million proposal for a private medical university and hospital in Kuwait, which aimed to attract 5,000 students.

Professors Davies and Marc Clement, the dean of his School of Management who is also under investigation, were on the proposed academic board for the project.

Mark James held a vital role in scheme under investigation

The controversial Carmarthenshire Council Chief Executive, Mark James, is listed as a trustee.

But anonymous comments to staff at Swansea from ‘Your friend’ soon followed the disturbing revelation.

In one, headlined ‘destruction of value and relationships’, a series of unlawful claims against a named individual were made in the email, and among the few lines we can publish is:  “I am confident we should expect retaliation by the Kuwaitis”.

Does ‘Your friend’ know the law?

Evidently he or she is unaware of legal rules because as these emails have been published to a third party they fall within the remit of libel laws.

If this person can be found legal action may follow.

But apart from making ‘no comment’ about the anonymous email campaign, Swansea University officials have also been reluctant to give information about their crooked former employee Chan, and we have been told our questions about him were “vexatious”in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

We were ‘vexatious’ apparently…

Four of the queries we asked in the FOIA were:

  • What was the exact date that Professor Steve Chan of the School of Management registered for his Ph.D at Swansea University? 
  • What was the exact date that he undertook his viva voce examination for his Ph.D? 
  • Who were the members of his Ph.D viva committee (including external examiners)? 
  • Who approved the appointment of the supervisors for his Ph.D?
Swansea governance – rules are important

Using documents we have seen we can now say the answer to the first question is October 2012, to the second May 2013, to the third – one is an academic called Andrew Parker.

Therefore according to Swansea University’s own regulations, Chan should not have been allowed to take his viva until at least October 2013.

Pre-order this book HERE

Regulations and rules are important – they need to be adhered to.

As those who are the subject of the investigation at Swansea University will discover…

Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his 35-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), will soon be released in a major new book ‘A Good Story’. Pre-order the book now!

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