After his Wikepedia entry was AGAIN vandalised, here our Editor Phil Parry looks at the abuse an investigative journalist suffers.
Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking 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 Wales TV Current Affairs series, 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.
He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.
The life of an investigative reporter like me is not an easy one.
I endure constant abuse online, and my Wikipedia entry is regularly vandalised.
The latest example of it, is that the person has taken out: ‘…online investigative website…’, and added: ‘…personal blog called…’.
Bizarrely, though, in the ‘career’ section, it still said: ‘…launched his own investigative website “The Eye”…’.
This may sound insignificant, but actually it is VERY important, because it effectively says that a story does not contain facts at all, but is a ‘personal view’.
Other attacks have been cruder, for example in the past the word “knobhead” has been added after my name.
I have been compared on Twitter to the comedy broadcaster Alan Partridge by a Sion Tomos Owen whose blog describes him as: “…a bilingual TV and Radio presenter, illustrator, writer and creative workshop tutor…”.
Mr Owen said in Welsh: “There’s no way that this website (The Eye) is for real?! It’s as if a Take a Break (light magazine) story has been edited by Alan Partridge” (laughing emoji).
Another remark which concerned a television ‘reporter’ who had posted pictures of herself on Facebook (FB) or Twitter in skimpy clothes, is typical of the insults I constantly receive: “Your article on Ellie Pitt was bordering on mysogynistic bullying, a really pathetic article written by a bitter individual who was a complete failiure as a BBC correspondent and also loved bashing the Catholic Church with your disgraceful Panorama programme”.
Indeed accusations of being ‘misogynistic’ (which is the CORRECT spelling!) or ‘misogynist’ are a constant refrain among those who hurl offensive comments, if factual stories are published with the targets happening to be women, yet these are potentially libellous words, and the description is provably wrong.
In the past I have also been accused online (incorrectly) of being a “bastard” (many times), an “anti-devolutionist wanker”, “pure scum”, a “liar” (also many times) a “little git”, and (correctly) a “nosey git”, “irritating”, or a “nuisance”. But these come amid many others. Too many, in fact, to mention.
I rarely sue (although I do sometimes) unless the online message is particularly outrageous, and contains a libel (which most of them do). Some can be rebutted in court using an “honest comment” defence (formerly known as “fair comment”), however most cannot, which means that any libel case is likely to be successful.
It seems I am not alone in receiving insults, as the controversial ‘comedian’, and ‘media executive’ Huw Marshall, said on Twitter yesterday: “I’ve received a substantial amount of abuse over past few years because of my efforts in establishing an objective national news service for Wales. Mostly from the transphobic and angry elements of “Glyndŵr Twitter”. If you’re going to call me a grifter, c*nt & criminal 1/2″.
There is, however, a major difference. Unlike Mr Marshall (who tried to have The Eye closed down), I have NOT made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, used bad language to abuse prominent Welsh politicians on social media, been placed under police investigation, and been officially reprimanded by Twitter (see story next week).
Fortunately the most recent egregious example of this malignancy on Wikipedia was soon spotted, and the woman responsible has been identified, by my supporters checking the computer trail that has been left behind.
She is called Lucy Elizabeth Pratt and her internet domain is ‘Lucyeliz88′.
Ms Pratt (an appropriate name perhaps!) is theoretically ‘engaged’ to a South Wales conman exclusively exposed by The Eye, known as Howard Williams/James Daniels.
Our journalists have shown how Williams/Daniels spent years in jail and had his legs broken after a drugs deal soured, yet several years ago, despite Ms Pratt’s apparent closeness to him, he announced on social media his engagement to ANOTHER woman called Danni (or Danielle) Greer while he was still married to someone else!
We have disclosed as well, that Williams/Daniels had opened a tanning studio in Cardiff, although like many of his past ‘businesses’ this one also soon met trouble.
He has admitted to being imprisoned, but described it in a FB post as a “short while”, when his convictions in fact total years. He claimed: “…when I was younger I did spend a short while in prison for fraud in the UK”, and added: “Stand up to the liars (and) haters…”.
But Williams/Daniels himself is a liar and hater. Apart from, over 10 years, spending more than four of them in prison convicted of 25 deception counts, he has been made bankrupt three times – in 2002, 2010 and 2015.
During his previous ‘career’ as an ‘Estate Agent’, the anger of one individual was clear on a property website: “He (Williams/Daniels) makes you pay circa £10k deposit and then disappears into the sunset”.
At a property event in the South of England, I was told that an investor had lost £30,000 to him, and his extraordinary exploits have even been the subject of The Eye’s satirical writer Edwin Phillips, while Williams/Daniels has boasted of owning a boat as well as a jetski, which he has said on FB was for sale.
He has posted a YouTube ‘interview’ on his website where he brags about his property ‘expertise’. Williams/Daniels claims he had a “massive” estate agency firm, but went from earning £20,000 a week to having just £56 in his pocket and living on the streets. He also alleges he has driven expensive cars (endorsed by photographs that have been published on social media), and said in the interview it took just “24 hours” to turn the £56 into £1,000, yet some critics have questioned how much of this is true.
One who is owed thousands of pounds by Williams/Daniels told me: “This is all made up. He lives in a complete fantasy world!”.
Another victim of Williams’/Daniels’, earlier provided details of how he has pocketed several thousand pounds, yet failed to do agreed work, while another told me that “He’s still at it (and) left our family with no money after putting fraudulent claims into HMRC saying he’s paying my partner wages”.
An angry client at a different example of Williams’/Daniels’ ‘businesses’ (a ‘restaurant’) said on FB that the food took an hour and 20 minutes to arrive, while a further client proclaimed: “I ordered a hot dog for myself, with salad and cheese, I opened the box and had one leaf of lettuce and roughly 5 grated bits of cheese, fair to say I had about two bites of it…My daughter had a chicken burger, not too much of a problem with that however had a stringy texture on the chicken, and felt undercooked, fair to say nearly everything went in the bin”. Meat was served raw, has been condemned as ‘disgusting’, and it has been stated on FB that Trading Standards would be alerted.
The reviews of his ‘restaurants’ (which switched to takeaways during the pandemic lockdowns) were not good and it appeared he was taking orders but not sending out food. One critical comment read: “We didn’t receive the BBQ Chicken Wrap in the order. We have tried to ring twice but no answer”.
Williams/Daniels moved to Murcia in Spain, when he changed his name, and, as I have revealed, he has in the past posed as an ‘Estate Agent’, although some of his recent ‘businesses’ have been mainly in the cafe or restaurant trades, however when he ran ‘Crave Desserts’ , staff said on FB they had to “beg” for money, and that it was “absolutely disgusting”.
A person close to Williams/Daniels, said: “He has sucked everyone in. He owes some staff and the landlords lots of money who haven’t been paid at all. He’s using the name James Daniels and Alfie Elkins and (a) cafe (he opened) was called ALFIE’S in Roath (Cardiff). Another cafe (he opened) was called Alfie’s in Tonypandy, then he opened Scoops in Pontyclun.”
The Eye was also contacted by one of the drivers for this cafe who offered extremely worrying information. He said: “He (Williams/Daniels) (is) not paying me for the work I did for him and he (is) also not paying the other drivers. Thank god I read your report on him, it save(d) me money and bother. The guy is a joke. I’m now £200 out of pocket, but it could be worst (sic)”.
He also ran dance nights at a disco in Spain called ‘Roldan’ but it closed soon after The Eye’s disclosures. Following them, Williams/Daniels asked a specialist company how to “get rid” of the “negative” stories about him on the internet.
He wrote: “When I google James daniels spain or James Daniels property or James Daniels murcia a load of website links appear for the-eye.wales which are negative reviews and not true (NOTHING is untrue). How do I get rid of these an(d) how much does it cost? Also how long does it take?”.
Meanwhile his ex-business partner, Sam McManus (also known as ‘Georgeson’), has first-hand knowledge of his lies. He has admitted he too was conned by him and that Williams/Daniels was a ‘sick man’. Mr McManus explained how he was deceived along with everyone else, and told The Eye: “He (Williams/Daniels) has fooled many people and I can only be grateful that there are good investigative journalists like you guys who expose greedy people like him. It is embarrassing to admit that I am yet another victim of his greed”.
But it isn’t simply ‘friends’ who have been deceived. Like his latest ‘fiancee’, Williams/Daniels himself is no stranger to interesting behaviour.
In one of his recent tirades against me he wrote on FB: “You write total lies about people (I only report facts), bully to the point of harassment and suicide, and will not answer a direct email? This is not journalism this is a mixture of Phil Parry (The ex journalist) and (others) you are pure scum!!!!! Let it be publicly known that The Eye does NOT care about people it just lies to make fictitious stories up. BULLYING, LIES, MENTAL HEALTH ABUSE TO NAME BUT A FEW!!!!!”.
In another he said: “I am have contacted you (sic) numerous times before asking why you consistently, stalk, bully and harass me? … You so far have asked the following for comments:
Abuser (I have never said Williams/Daniels is an abuser).
Sex Offender (I have never said Williams/Daniels is a sex offender).
Drug user (I have never said Williams/Daniels is a drug user, just that he has dealt in illegal drugs).
He also said he performed at expensive property ‘seminars’ in upmarket hotels or golf clubs around South Wales where customers were duped once again, but the ’employers’ of Williams/Daniels may not be aware of such comments.
For £299 potential clients were tempted with a “Special Offer February Deal – Sourcing and rent to rent training weekend”. The ‘offer’ was removed from Williams/Daniels’ FB site, where he was known as ‘The Shoes’, soon afterwards, and when I contacted one of the golf clubs, officials had no record of it taking place.
Luckily, though, any vandalism of a Wikipedia entry always leaves a record, so our journalists can trace an attack by someone close to a South Wales crook we have uncovered, with what has been done changed back to the original anyway…
The memories of Phil’s astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (when the behaviour of those who had tricked people out of their life savings, or were suddenly sacked, was always exposed) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!
Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.