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Who is ‘Your friend’?

An extraordinary anonymous dirty tricks email campaign has moved up a gear at a scandal-hit Welsh university where the Vice-Chancellor VC was suspended, the police were called in to help investigate a questionable multi-million pound land deal and The Eye exposed a crook who officials had employed.

One of the latest gmails in the astounding campaign undertaken by  ‘Your friend’ has been sent to the chair of the council and staff at controversial Swansea University. It alleges previous messages were “blocked” and that a “witch hunt” is underway. The message came after we had disclosed that the only internal candidate to be interviewed to take over as VC at Swansea had publicly boosted the reputation of a crook called Steve Chan in publicity before a conference where Chan was to appear representing the university.

The anonymous email campaign goes on

It was addressed to the institution’s council members headlined “More truth” and this time came from a ‘Lilith Sumerian’ address, but others such as ‘Ivs Titia’ have been used in the past.

This scurrilous gmail included attachments and read in part:  “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?”

One internal email at Swansea University talked of a ‘David and Goliath’ situation

Another message in the hours afterwards was also addressed to the chair of the university council, 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”.

The gmail is from a “Saint Homobonus” and delivered from a gmail address marked “patron of procurement”.

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

But the internal campaign has been totally ignored by the mainstream media, and has been conducted ever since the incredible investigation was launched at Swansea University at the same time as the sensational suspension of the VC Richard Davies and the Dean of his School of Management Marc Clement as well as two others. Professor Davies has since announced his intention to retire.

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

The underhand campaign appears to be designed to undermine the inquiry and boost the reputations of those who have been suspended, as well as key senior executives such as the contentious senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) Hilary Lappin-Scott.

Yet The Eye have shown how Professor Lappin-Scott enraged her own workers by sending Tweets from glamorous parts of the world on university ‘business’, and her exploits have become the subject of our satirical writer.

Sion Barry was mentioned by ‘Your friend’

The anonymous messages have claimed in the past Professor Lappin-Scott would lead the university to “an era of gold and honey”. In part, one recent email 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?”.

‘Your friend’ doesn’t like us…

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

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

In one of the internal gmails following revelations about a Kuwait project which forms part of the investigation and was headlined ‘destruction of value and relationships’, a 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”.

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

Does ‘Your friend’ know the law?

If this person can be found legal action may follow.

But Swansea University is no stranger to bad headlines.

Our journalists have shown that the crook they employed on a contract at its School of Management was jailed for years in America after a massive fraud.

The latest in a long line from ‘Your friend’…

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.

Steve Chan – a crook employed by Swansea University exposed by The Eye

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’. The promotion before the conference said:  “Swansea University is delighted that Professor Steve Chan will take a leadership role in driving the Big Data agenda forward for Swansea University’s School of ManagementProfessor Steve Chan is the Chair of the Cyber Analytics and Network/Relationship Science Centre at Swansea University and the Chair of Smarter Cities for a Safer Planet and the Internet of Things at Swansea University’s School of Management”.

University officials were less keen, though, to give The Eye information about Chan’s background and we have been told our questions about him in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request had been refused on the grounds they were “vexatious”.

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?
Alison Jones did not want the job

But using documents we have seen we can now disclose that the answer to the first question is October 2012, to the second May 2013, to the third – one is an academic called Andrew ParkerTherefore according to Swansea University’s own regulations, Chan should not have been allowed to take his viva until at least October 2013.

The university has also been rocked by the remarkable information that Alison Jones who was slated to take over as VC at the university has rejected the job.

‘What a shame they didn’t give Hilary an interview for my job’

We were the first to break the news that the unparalleled suspension of her potential predecessor Professor Daviesas well as three of his officials, and the astonishing 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.

Apart from the ‘Wellness’ village, the university’s involvement in the enormous plan in Kuwait is also being examined. Senior officers are looking into 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 Clement, were on the proposed academic board for the project and the controversial Carmarthenshire Council Chief Executive, Mark James, is listed as a trustee.

But it has emerged Mr James’ role was not listed in the authority’s declaration of interests.

Pre-order this book HERE

The whole business appears murky but to ‘Your friend’ the suspensions connected to it are grossly unfair.

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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