Electoral Commission

May 202017
 

I had planned to focus on the UK general election, but it’ll have to wait as I feel that an update is merited to the ongoing case of the anonymous leaflets distributed in Gwynedd prior to the council elections earlier this month.

A PICTURE EMERGES

I first dealt with this glossy, 4-page leaflet in Dirty, Dirty Politics, but at the time I was only able to provide you with copies e-mailed to me and almost certainly taken with a phone. I have since received a copy of the leaflet and I’m now able to provide a scanned version. (Click on the image to enlarge.) I also provided an update in Elections 2017 (scroll down).

Perhaps the main reason I’m returning to this subject is because information I’ve subsequently received makes it clear that these leaflets were distributed far more widely than I had originally thought, and may even constitute something of a campaign. Let me remind you how it began.

I was sent copies of the leaflet on Friday, April 28th, with a message saying that they had been handed out in Trawsfynydd by a guy driving a Mercedes. I was able to establish that the car in fact belonged to Councillor Louise Hughes, who represents the Llangelynin ward on Gwynedd County Council as an Independent. Louise Hughes told me when I phoned her the next day that she had stopped in Trawsfynydd on her way to Garndolbenmaen to canvass for the Lib Dem candidate in Dolbenmaen ward, Steven Churchman.

Then someone else got in touch to say that the leaflets had also been seen in Dolgellau, and a few individuals were named as likely distributors. Later, I heard they’d turned up in Blaenau Ffestiniog. More recently, I have been told of these leaflets turning up on Llŷn, and there seems to be a pattern emerging.

We shall look at the wider consequences, and the possible scale of this activity, later.

SO WHAT HAVE YOU DONE ABOUT IT, JAC?

I have sent a letter to North Wales Police, and accompanying the letter was a copy of the offending leaflet together with a copy of the Electoral Commission’s factsheet, the clear and concise Election Material and Imprints – Great Britain. I reproduce the relevant passages of the leaflet below.

The page reproduced above makes it clear that Hughes and her gang constitute a non-party campaign organisation, which makes the leaflet election material – in that it seeks to influence people against a particular party – and as such it should carry an imprint, which it clearly doesn’t. (Believe me, ‘Printy McPrintface’ will not be accepted as an imprint by the Electoral Commission.)

On Thursday I received another e-mail from the Electoral Commission which said, “It appears that the material you have provided does not contain an appropriate imprint. However, as it is not clear from the material you have provided who has actually produced and distributed the leaflet, the Commission needs to consider the likelihood of being able to establish the source of the material in deciding how to progress this matter. Therefore, if you have any information as to who may have produced and distributed the material, (including the locality and volume of distribution), please could you provide this.”

I responded with the information requested and also quoted from my letter to the North Wales Police:

“There can be no doubt that Councillor Louise Hughes was distributing unlawful election material in the period preceding the council elections earlier this month. How many others were involved in the distribution remains to be established, but I’m sure Councillor Hughes can give you their names.”

I continued:

“As for who printed and published these leaflets, I’m sure Councillor Hughes can also tell you that. What seems clear to me is that the leaflets have been professionally produced, which suggests that they are the work of someone with access to commercial printing materials and equipment, or may even have been produced by a commercial printer.”

I now believe that we are moving in the right direction, though I still worry that North Wales Police might look for excuses not to get involved. They might try to interpret it as a political squabble, ‘Six of one  . . . ‘. It’s not. The law has been broken. The law in question being the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

WIDER STILL AND WIDER . . .

When my attention was first drawn to this leaflet I assumed it was the work of a few anti-Welsh bigots – camouflaging their swivel-eyed hostility to ‘all that Welsh nonsense’ with attacks on Plaid Cymru – just the usual suspects letting off steam before council elections.

Hughes and her “scruffy” companion were – as she told me – handing the leaflets out in the cafe in Trawsfynydd simply because they’d stopped there en route to Garndolbenmaen. Some leaflets had even been left with the saintly Churchman, who claimed to have destroyed them, but also admitted, “I quite like Louise Hughes”.

We now know that the leaflets were distributed from Dolgellau to Pwllheli. I’ve had no reports as yet from the north of the county, Bangor, Caernarfon, and other places, but if you’re targeting Plaid Cymru’s control of the county council it makes sense to cover the more populous parts of county.

Before leaving Garndolbenmaen, it’s worth mentioning that another source insists Hughes’ scruffy companion was seen on polling day, hanging around the polling station in Pentrefelin, which is on the A497 from Porthmadog to Pwllheli but in the Dolbenmaen ward. He is said to have been handing out copies of the leaflet, which if true, is almost certainly illegal. I’m awaiting further information.

The feedback I’ve had says that the leaflets were available in a number of “retail outlets” in Pwllheli. Which may be significant, for the town produced an interesting result on May 4th when the sitting Plaid Cymru councillor for Pwllheli North, Michael Sol Owen, lost to Independent candidate, Dylan Bullard, on roughly the same turnout as in 2012. If less than fifty people had voted differently then Owen would have been re-elected.

click to enlarge

Now Dylan Bullard may be a splendid fellow, who has never heard of Louise Hughes and her gang. But whoever distributed those leaflets in Pwllheli did so with the intention of damaging Plaid Cymru, and if they succeeded then Bullard is the beneficiary whether he acknowledges it or not.

Some reading this are now shouting, ‘But this is all supposition, Jac’. Is it? What we know for certain is that the leaflets exist, they were widely distributed prior to the council elections, and they were intended to damage Plaid Cymru’s election chances. The only imponderable is the degree to which the leaflets succeeded.

UPDATE 21.05.2017: Councillor Dylan Bullard has been in touch to say, “At no time prior to or during the local elections were these pamphlets available in any of the ‘retail outlets’ I frequent in Pwllheli, indeed a quick survey of certain towns people would suggest your feedback to be overwhelming wrong.” A sweeping statement.

He may be right, he may be wrong. But if he’s right, then I find it strange that leaflets should have been available at Bargain Booze and the shop-filling station (maybe other places) in Criccieth yet those responsible did not travel a few miles to Pwllheli where there was such a finely-balanced contest taking place.

When pressed to offer an opinion on the leaflet’s contents, Councillor Bullard said: “I have briefly read the pamphlet and can assure you that I do not agree with what is written and neither would any decent inhabitant of Pwllheli.”

UPDATE 26,05.2017: Here’s an interesting screen capture from the webcast of Gwynedd council’s full meeting on May 18. It shows of course Louise Hughes, distributor of leaflets; then, on the right of the picture, we see Steven Churchman, Lib Dem councillor and recipient of leaflets; on the far left (of the picture, never the political spectrum) we see Mike Stevens, printer of Tywyn; but who is that sitting between Stevens and Hughes, surely not Dylan Bullard?

Oh, yes, out of picture, but sitting next to Churchman, was Siôn Jones, the Labour councillor. What more do you need to know?

CONCLUSION

What might earlier have been dismissed as a few odious malcontents spreading their bigotry is no longer a valid interpretation of what happened in Gwynedd prior to the council elections. For we now know that it was more organised and widespread than that.

Not only did the recent activity cover a considerable geographical area, but the leaflet proudly announces, “this is the 6th edition of Tales With A Twist”. So were the other five produced prior to earlier elections? Will one appear before the June 8 UK general election?

click to enlarge

The fact that six of these leaflets have been produced and distributed makes it look like an ongoing conspiracy to influence the democratic process by an organised but secretive and law-breaking group. Therefore those involved must be exposed and punished.

In addition, there are features of this latest leaflet that are just crude racism: the suggestion that Welsh verbs are formed by adding ‘io’ to English words; the allegation that children are punished for speaking English in Gwynedd schools; and the reference to ‘English Not’ signs being made by ‘Waldio Priciau’.

This of course is the insulting reaction we hear from a certain English mindset whenever it’s confronted with another culture or identity. This mindset also believes that the natives are always corrupt . . . and so it is with those behind issue 6 of Tales With a Twist, which accuses Plaid Cymru of electoral fraud.

click to enlarge

Those responsible for this leaflet must feel there is an audience for their views, so let them give that audience a chance to express its contempt for all things Welsh through a new party, a kind of UKIP specific to Wales, a party for which there is only one permitted language and only one acceptable identity. A party committed to turning Wales into a greener and pleasanter England . . . without the immigrants.

But before they have that opportunity I hope that North Wales Police and the Electoral Commission do their jobs. Both have enough evidence now to begin proceedings against those responsible for the leaflet and the violations of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

♦ end ♦

Jul 242014
 

Knowing how many of you are gleefully anticipating the arrest of avidly following the exciting career of our new MEP, Nathan Gill, I thought I’d give you a wee update. For those arriving late to the feast let me explain that Nathan Lee Gill is a ‘businessman’ (of sorts) who was elected to the European Parliament on May 22 to represent Wales and the United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip).

I have dealt with Gill previously in these posts:

1/ Wales Euro Elections 2014: Runners & Riders. May 15

2/ Nathan Gill, Ukip No 1 in Wales. May 19

3/ Euro Elections: Picking Through The Bones. May 27

4/ Nathan Gill, Ukip MEP, Another Dishonest Politician? June 2

5/ Nathan Gill: It Just Gets Worse. June 7

6/ Nathan Gill: The Biblical Backstory (Book of Nathan). June 15

7/ Miscellany: MEWN, Oxbridge, Nathan Gill. June 19

8/ Nathan Gill, Family Man. June 26

9/ Nathan Gill MEP: Exporter, Friend of Ghana. July 11

Since writing the last of those posts there have been developments and I have received further information, which I shall now share with you.

*

I have reported Gill to H. M. Revenue and Customs, in a letter mailed on July 7th. I did this because I sincerely believe that Gill has, over many years, defrauded the tax authorities through operating a number of cash-in-hand enterprises; either alone, or in partnership with others. It could even be that some of the enterprises in which he was engaged were of a nature that made it impossible to declare earnings without admitting to unlawful activities.

*

More information has been received from my original informant since I wrote to HMRC. The first talked of Gill buying a new Citröen C5 in 2008, which was paid for with cash. Even then it would have been difficult to get the big Citröen for less than £16,000, even paying in cash. I was also told that Gill’s brother-in-law, Brian Lynn Quilter, had paid “mainly with cash” for a Lotus Elise sports car. Depending on the specification, Quilter’s car Humveecould have cost more than Gill’s C5.

My informant also talks of two classic cars used for weddings, and “a shop in the village where he lives doing wedding videos”. Does he mean Llangefni? Can readers up there rack their memories for such an enterprise. A Humvee may have been involved, one with a big TV screen in the back.

The Humvee also clears up one of the (many) mysteries in Gill’s past. In earlier posts I mentioned, among the companies with which Gill has been associated, Humview Ltd, Incorporated on March 16, 2008 and finally struck off on May 30, 2009. During its brief existence it had just three directors: Gill, his wife, Jana, and a Richard Bruce Worsey, who resigned eight days before the end, and may also be a resident of Anglesey. My informant states that the Humvee cost £26,000, but does not say if this was also paid for with readies. But knowing Nathan Gill . . .

My informant also referred back to Guy Fawkes’ Night in 2001 (refresh your memory here). It appears that the church in Hull was a Grade II listed building. Gill applied for planning permission. He was refused. There was a “mysterious fire” which Gill blamed on kids throwing fireworks. (Why am I deafened by alarm bells ringing!)

Finally, we have further evidence of what a believer Gill is in international trade. (Read about the Ghana connection.) For I am told that Gill and Quilter made a number of trips to China, and – wait for it! – were accompanied on these trips by large amounts of folding. Quite what was bought, my informant does not know, not being privy to the details of these oriental excursions; but he is in no doubt that the gruesome twosome were “avoiding duty”. Shome mishtake, shurely!

*

Moving on, as they say, I am indebted to another correspondent for informing me that he has reported Nathan Gill to the Electoral Commission, arguing that Gill is in breach of Section 106 of the Representaion of the People Act. Rather than me try to explain what I might not properly understand, I shall quote directly from the correspondence I received, which I assume to be a copy of what was sent to the Electoral Commission.

Gill RPA

The point being, of course, that from 2009 until his election on May 22, 2014, Gill was an adviser to his predecessor as Ukip MEP, John Bufton. So he was not, “a real person with a real job”, he was precisely what he denied being – “a career politician”. Nor was he, at the time these leaflets were written and circulated, a “domiciliary and residential care services professional”, for the only income declared to the European Parliament was that which he received as an “MEP’s assistant”.

It will be interesting to see whether the Electoral Commission has the balls to proceed with this complaint.

*

John AtkinsonFinally, let me extend thanks to a third person for directing me to Gill’s four UK assistants; they are: Major John Atkinson, Andrew Martin Haigh, Scott George Tuppen and Simon Wall.

The Major lives in Swansea and spent 33 years (1967 – 2000) in the Royal Marines, so presumably he worked his way up through the ranks. He stood for Ukip in the 2011 Assembly elections on the South Wales West regional list. He was second (of four) on the Ukip slate which managed 4.3% of the vote, just ahead of Socialist Labour on 3.3% and the BNP on 3.1%. He may have stood in other elections but I can’t be bothered to check.

Andrew Martin Haigh was Ukip candidate for Delyn in the 2010 general election, when he came home in sixth place, behind the BNP. He seems not to have excited Google since that foray into electoral politics. Haigh has this to say on Friends Reunited: “I live in North Wales and run a small mail order business. I am married to clare a marine biologist who works for the government. In my spare time I write and also play Bass in a 60/70’s rock & roll band.” (My toes are curling for him.)

The company is Vitaplankton, for which he has worked since it was Incorporated in March 2013. On DueDil the business is described as ‘Fish Farrming’ and ‘Marine Aguaculture’. I suppose it’s reasonable to assume, given his wife’s job, that she helps out or advises in Haigh’s business; maybe he has access to facilities Haigh Oxygenor equipment at her place of work, or he makes use of data or contacts that she can provide through her work. But would that be allowed? Haigh currently lives in Llanrug, near Caernarfon, but has previously lived in Menai Bridge. Regular readers will know that Menai Bridge was home to Gill’s parents, and also home to the dump of tyres destined for Ghana. Haigh is of course English.

UPDATE July 25: More information has come to light on Haigh. The mail order business referred to may in fact be Vitalox, which sells a twenty-first-century equivalent of snake oil. Haigh imports oxygen (sic) from Canada that, it is claimed, can cure everything from ingrowing toenails to baldness, plus many more serious conditions. (Read the ‘Oxygen & Cancer’ section.) Though if the oxygen fails (as it presumably will), then the Vitalox website recommends prayer, with a Spirituality page; and wouldn’t you know it – Haigh is a Mormon, like Gill and all his family! The website modestly describes Haigh as a “serial entrepreneur” (for which there is no word in Welsh, incidentally), a description I’m sure Nathan Gill has applied to himself.

UPDATE July 30: Thanks to BC I now have more information on Haigh. Such as the fact that he and his wife have a little sideline in Segways. Also, that this staunch Kipper, hostile to the EU and all its works, recently sought to recruit a Lab technician for Vitaplankton, and as the advert makes clear, “The post is funded under the European Fisheries Fund”.

What is it with these Ukip Mormons; are they all hypocrites, charlatans, crooks and con men?

Scott George Tuppen seems to be yet another Kipper with a head for business. From July 11, 2011 to November 7, 2012 he was a director / company secretary of a firm called Cusu Services Ltd which according to DueDil, has a current book value of -£178,468. Though young Tuppen – for he is but 31 – started in business at the age of 15 with Tuppen and Associates Enterprises Ltd, with big sister Angela holding his hand. This venture lasted from July 31, 1998 to June 21, 2000. Tuppen and Associates was based in Brynna, Pontyclun.

Finally, we come to Simon Wall, another Englishman plaguing Anglesey. Reminding us that in many parts of Wales Ukip is little more than an English club, of the kind that might have been found in earlier times in the White Highlands or some Indian hill stations. English people away from home becoming ever more exaggeratedly English and hostile to the natives.

*

The net is closing on Gill, and those associated with him. Given his past he was always destined to be yet another embarrassment for the United Kingdom Independence Party. Which will bring nothing but joy to those of us who have come to realise what a deceitful and unprincipled bastard this man is, and yet so representative of Ukip. But before he departs the political stage let him do Wales one service in reminding us why we must be alert to him and his kind, and why we must leave them in no doubt that they are unwelcome in our country.