Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd: An Open Letter to Carwyn Jones

October 17th 2016

First Minister,

You may have read my previous post, ‘Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd‘. If not, then I suggest you read it, if only to help you understand what follows.

Your government gives a great deal of public money to housing associations. These bodies are largely unregulated and, as a consequence, a law unto themselves. (One reason so many of them run into ‘difficulties’.) For example, Pembrokeshire Housing – a body that receives a great deal of money from the public purse – funds its subsidiary Mill Bay Homes in the building of private houses for sale.  

The emergence of this particular scandal is due entirely to dedicated individuals rather than to the media, politicians, or those answerable to you who claim to be overseeing the Registered Social Landlords you so lavishly fund.

Now it emerges that housing associations funded by your government are leasing – perhaps also renting – property from Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd, a company that is registered in a tax haven to hide the identity of those behind it, also to escape UK regulations and of course to avoid paying UK tax.

On Sunday, the Guardian told us that Arron Banks, funder of Ukip, friend of Nigel Farage and financial backer of his recent Leave.EU campaign, also makes use of Gibraltar. (Read it here.) When I read the story bells rang because details of Banks’ Gibraltar connection seemed familiar to me.

That’s because both Link Holdings and Arron Banks use Parliament Lane Nominees as directors, and both also use STM Fidecs Management Ltd as secretaries. (Check Link Holdings’ company profile from Companies House in Gibraltar to confirm this.)

Coincidence? Probably, but the Guardian article raises the possibility that Welsh housing associations, funded and supposedly regulated by the Welsh Government, could be leasing properties from Arron Banks.

Despite the blog post I refer you to focusing on Swansea this problem is not confined to that city, or to Link Holdings. To begin with, Link Holdings owns property across southern Wales, so it’s reasonable to assume that RSLs in other areas have an arrangement with Link. Then, knowing that Link is one of many offshore companies owning property in Wales makes it equally reasonable to assume that housing associations have dealings with companies other than Link. (Read this.)

It doesn’t matter which possibility we consider, neither does your government or the housing associations involved any favours. Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd could be owned by Arron Banks, or it could be owned by the Mafia, the Moonies, or money-launderers, we just don’t know.

Successive Labour administrations in the Assembly have told us they believe in ‘openness’, they’ve also reminded us how responsible they are in their handling of the public purse. You now have an opportunity to prove that these claims are more than empty rhetoric.

Unless, that is, you see nothing wrong with housing associations passing on public funding to property companies registered in tax havens. But I find that difficult to believe.

I also believe that no right-thinking Welsh politician would sanction what I have explained here, so we are entitled to know who is behind Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd. We are also entitled to know if you and the housing associations involved are unable to identify who is behind this company.

Someone also needs to explain why the Welsh Government allowed publicly-funded bodies to do business with companies registered in tax havens. Before, finally, promising that such behaviour will be brought to an end.

It’s clear from the Link Holdings case, from what’s happening in Pembrokeshire, and from other evidence, that the social housing sector is in one hell of a mess. A well-funded but almost completely unregulated mess.

The answer to this problem lies in genuine reform, not in encouraging housing associations run by Labour Party members to take over faltering RSLs in order to increase Labour’s stranglehold on Welsh public life. (I am of course referring here to the recent Wales and West takeover of Cantref.)

Let me conclude by suggesting that you, First Minister, practise what your party preaches about openness and concern for the public purse by making sure that no more of our money reaches secretive companies registered in Gibraltar or any other tax haven.

END

UPDATE 18.10.2016: I have now decided to write directly to the First Minister. Here’s my letter.

48 thoughts on “Link Holdings (Gibraltar) Ltd: An Open Letter to Carwyn Jones

  1. Big Gee

    I suggest you actually write to Carwyn ‘ca-ca‘ Jones officially Jac, and include the leaders of all the other parties represented in the Bay in your circulation list – oh – and don’t forget the son of the manse (with a Histrionic Personality Disorder) who officially goes by the title of Baron and currently represents Dwyfor Meirionnydd as an Independent in Y Senedd.

      1. Brychan

        I suggest you copy in Lynn Pamment, PwC partner of Trivallis and W&W.
        No doubt she is one of the architects of this somewhat sophisticated arrangement.

        —–

        As I understand it, there is an issue relating to ‘insurance’ of an investment from, or moving debt overseas. Such insurance is in case a tax-haven portfolio seeks to recover their investment early, default, or enact clauses relating to currency exposure. This often occurs when an investment portfolio is held in currency of reducing worth.

        There is also a short adjustment period of grace arising from the 2015 legislation to allow for provision on exposure to Capital Gains Tax that would otherwise be avoided overseas. In the case of those empty condos in London, the exposure is minimal due to the disposable value. However, I suspect Housing Associations in Wales are unlikely to be able to insure against such exposure, or set aside any provision.

        I am not aware of any provision by the Welsh government or local authorities to underwrite such an arrangement. This is why I think the arrangement is rather risky, and Brexit has thrown in a big spanner.

        Your previous mention of Castlebeg Investments (shudder through the backbone of anyone involved in housing) is interesting. I assume Carwyn may vex his mind on this issue unless he’s so stupid as to wait for tenants of social housing in Wales to be evicted so assets get sold off to satisfy overseas debt. Will there be furniture on the streets of Tonyrefail and Townhill?

        1. I’m not sure, Brychan; whatever we are dealing with in Link Holdings takes us back to Swansea, and long before Pamment left school. Which is not to say that more recent developments many not have influenced current thinking.

          1. Brychan

            So is she (a) a fixer of a pre-existing issue, or (b) a predator seeking to acquire an operational footprint outside RCT, like in Swansea or as you suggest (c) an innocent bystander (with a very knowing eye) who must have a risen an eyebrow as she must have already spotted the issues involved?

            PwC on the board don’t come cheap.

            If you get a reply saying “Wales and West, RCT Homes/Trivallis have no leasehold arrangements or have any freehold held by any off-shore companies” then it answers the question.

  2. Tim Saunders

    Good idea to copy in the party leaders. Not certain why one would include somebody describing themselves as a ‘ virtual independent ‘. . When human needs are at stake, why involve a hologram?

    1. Big Gee

      Good point – on reflection you’re probably quite right! ‘Hologram’ – excellent – and very appropriate, I doubt if there’s one person left in Welsh politics who takes him seriously any more.

    1. dafis

      you could be waiting for a long time. It’ll take a lot of composing skills to wriggle out of this one. I’m more interested to see which one ( or more ) of the other party leaders take a real interest. It’s a good chance for Plaid, Conservatives and UKIP to table well constructed questions on this subject. However how many of our Assembled politicians have something to hide, or are connected in some way to vested interests in this matter ?

      1. Big Gee

        Count Plaid out – despite what Baron Elis-Thomas has been saying, Plaid are now well & truly in bed with Labour, their leader has been wrapping her tail around Carwyn’s leg and purring from day one of the latest Assembly term. Plaid Cymru has agreed a £119m deal to back Labour’s budget. Two different masks on the same face I dare say. So don’t expect any ‘interest’ from Plaid dafis.

        1. dafis

          Yet Leanne is most likely the “cleanest” of leaders in that Assembly. There is nothing to link her to any dodgy finance or that kind of activity, even one step removed. That said she should feel free to have a good chew on this bone, or at least set one of her main fellow members, Dai Lloyd for instance, or Llyr H-G, good cleanboys who could really let fly on this subject. Any takers ?

        2. Brychan

          Actually, count Plaid in.

          Please do not fall for the Brit-spin that Leanne is just some thick moaner from the valleys. Never underestimate ANYONE from the valleys.

          1. Brychan, I have enjoyed too many great and enduring friendships with men from the Valleys; Merthyr, Rhondda, Cynon, plus the Eastern and Western valleys of Gwent, and indeed those nearer to my Swansea home, yea, even unto the Gwendraeth (Scarlets-supporters though they may be), to underestimate anyone from our former mining communities. And although my knowledge of Valleys women is less comprehensive, I’m sure you’re right.

            1. Brychan

              Tip about valleys women. If you discuss politics in the kitchen, hide the knives. If you’re nice, you shall dine with an angel. I find it works beside the Cynon, Rhondda and Tawe. I’m now working on the Gwendraeth variety, but these appear to be a species rather less predictable.

          2. Big Gee

            I’ve known Leanne for years Brychan, I used to be a mate of hers on Plaid’s National Executive Committee, we used to see each other every month at the meetings in Aberystwyth. An absolutely lovely girl, in fact the last time I spoke to her was when she invited me to dance with her at a function! So I’d be the last one to swallow any Brit-spin crap that’s spun about her.

            However when it comes to her politics, like SO many others in Plaid, she’s too socialist and not enough nationalist for my taste. I always felt that she came over as a Valleys Labour convert. And being brought up in the Valleys Labour environment I always felt that she was sympathetic to Labour – because they were on the left of centre, and the other thing she shared with the Labour rabble was her hatred of Tories (totally understandable, following the witch Maggie Thatchers decimation of the coal industry in South Wales – I was living in the Rhondda during the eighties coal miners strike).

            Trouble is, she’s slightly TOO pally with ‘ca-ca‘ Carwyn and his mob in the Bay. She needs a few lessons from Miss Sturgeon when it comes to dealing with the Labourites. Cosying up to them is not the way forward.

            For those reasons, I really don’t think that she will cause any ripples when confronted with Jac’s letter to ‘ca-ca‘. She would much prefer to keep quiet for fear of upsetting the cosy Labour/ Plaid relationship, that’s actually a honeymoon at present (spending budget support and all that), leaving any awkward questioning on this subject to the Tories and the mad Kippers.

            1. Brychan

              I think your quoting what Labour say of Leanne, rather than the fine traditions of Welsh nationalism native to Rhondda. Can be a bit different from other parts of Wales, Yes, but she has a socialist heritage, woven from the same cloth as her predicessors like Gareth Alban Davies (Ton Pentre), John Gwyn Griffiths (Porth), Rhydwen Williams (Pentre) and James Kitch Davies (Trealaw) all of whom have played a pivitol role is the establishment of 20th century Welsh nationalism.

              The suggestion from the modern Labour imports that somehow Leanne is ‘one of them’ and somehow not worthy of Plaid Cymru is both factually incorrect and a slur on the Rhondda and Wales as a whole. There are many stands of national desire in Wales, and Leanne is a proud banner of one of those strands. Nothing to do with Carwyn, nor Labour. Independence will not be forged in some national executive committee or questions to First Minister. It’s about people like you and me.

              Leadership is not a type of boot to be trod down on followers, it’s about providing the shoulders to lift up peoples aspirations. Leanne has broad shoulders. In Rhondda they reach wider than party meetings, questions in committees, or statements in the Bae. It’s why I follow blogs such as this and chip in now and again. I don’t go for a pint and chat at the bar about what question was asked in some Senedd committee (weird and pointless), but have had cause to chat over what Jac posted on the internet this week (interesting and goldust). Some younger than me also do twitter and Facebooks. I use a phone to phone.

              As a Plaid member who has no interest in ‘meetings’, up until now, I’ve not been supposed to say that if I lived in Tywyn I wouldn’t vote for DET. That’s changed. The other question, however, is if Jac or yourself was in Treorci, would you vote for Leanne? That’s the more important question, and it’s not about how left or right a policy is on the Brit-spectrum, but about our national sovereignty.

            2. Tim Saunders

              Thank you, Brychan, for that trenchant response. It covers the ground elegantly, and is congruent with the view that, while there are some good people trapped inside Wales’ answer to the PRI of Mexico, their only hope is to extricate themselves from an appalling shower that sells seats in the House of Lords and wages illegal wars, amongst other villainies.

      1. Big Gee

        GOOD! Be sure to publish a copy of it on here Jac, and follow it up with periodic updates, even if it’s to report that you have had no response, or inappropriate responses. At least it will highlight on web media some information that will cause a degree of embarrassment to the Welsh Labour Government, and it will also highlight the way ‘ca-ca‘ Jones does things in his inimitable way – i.e. smile and do nothing. At least his procrastination will be evident to the public.

        That way the knowledge WILL filter out to those who don’t realise what’s happening in the shadows, behind the scenes.

  3. Stan

    That’s a great open letter to the First Minister, Jac and I’m pleased to see it’ll be followed up with a personal letter to him. It’s going to be really interesting to see what response you do get, because I agree with Dafis – based on what you’ve uncovered there’s not too many escape routes for the rats to run for cover. But just how many tales of corruption in Wales do you personally have to uncover before the cudgel is picked up by those who we expect to provide an opposition to Carwyn and his Party’s cronyism? You’re spoonfeeding the buggers in opposition with great investigative stuff and what are we getting in return? Complete disinterest and silence it seems to me. Frankly, if they don’t want to provide an opposition worthy of the name they should piss off back to social work, teaching, town hall politics or whatever. This is the very time we expect those who sit on opposition benches to snarl and fight like wolves, not roll over on their backs and let Carwyn’s lot tickle their bellies.

    Keep up the good work. I’ve been quiet of late as a few local issues with Neath Labour have been grabbing my attention. And I’m still trying to recover from that shocking episode of Question Time which came from Neath. What a bunch oif muppets were there – and I’m not talking just about the panellists. The one good thing that came out of it is surely they’ll never come back to make it again.

  4. To Stan,

    I didn’t watch the programme except for Leann Wood’s response to Cairns on youtube I think. I’ve heard that when these programmes are from Wales, people from outside are ‘bused’ in. Were they mostly local? What was your impression?

    1. Stan

      Michaela Beddows is a leading light in Labour’s anti-Welsh education campaign in Llangennech so she was definitely bussed in. Jac has already referred to her being there on his Twitter account and has written about what’s going on down there.. She was done up like a dog’s dinner and I’ve a feeling her contribution was pre-scripted – she knew she’d be on camera alright. And the local grapevine suggests there were many in the audience who were not local – though where do you draw the line I suppose.

      I thought it would be an ideal opportunity for one of the new local MPs – Christina Rees (Neath) or Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) to make an appearance and perhaps a mark – but no sign of ’em. Nor the new AM for Neath, one Jeremy Miles, ex-Bevan Foundation, solicitor and one of the two openly gay Labour candidates who stood in Wales for the Assembly election in May. No sign of him either. So we had Chuka Umunna instead – who instead of being the only gay in the village was probably the only black face in the village – if you’ve ever been to Neath you’ll know what I mean. People who know the political scene locally better than me said they spotted just one local councillor.

      But the quality of the panel, the audience and the debate was abysmal in the opinion of most people I’ve spoken to. You were lucky you didn’t waste an hour of your life watching it! I try not to admit I’m from Neath these days.

      1. You’re right about Beddows. Someone sent me a tweet from her Mentor, Gary Jones, to Umunna, telling him about the issue in Llangennech and preparing him for a question on the subject – from La Beddows.

        Another I saw was an oddball called Lance something (bearded bugger) who I know lives in the Forest of Dean and bangs on periodically about ‘Monmouthshire’ (i.e. Gwent) being English.

        But I didn’t watch the programme, I just saw those two on iPlayer because someone suggested I might want to watch Beddows.

        1. Stan

          Whoever suggested you might want to watch her, I’d give a wide berth in future. I don’t think they had your best interests at heart. Even well lubricated when I watched it – she sobered me up sharpish.

          1. Stan, I have to confess that I watched her in the morning, after reading the e-mail . . . and soon wishing that it was the night before and I’d had a glass or twa of my Argie Malbec.

  5. dafis

    Off topic, but all relevant to the flabby lax behaviour of politicians in Wales – did you see that BBC2 programme about public sector spending at about 20.30 – 21.00 tonite ? I missed the early bit but saw some bloke called Jacques tramping around various local authorities probing their use of Consultants and outsourced services.
    Lo and behold he turns up in Powys and later Ceredigion, and bloody hell, the spending in relatively small authorities like these two is way out of control. The panto dame chairing Ceredigion Council got on her high horse when the questioning got a bit persistent so the guy was obviously digging into sensitive areas. In Powys they did a quick dig into some consultant’s report and the whole thing was utterly flakey within seconds just by talking it through with ordinary folk out in the community.

    So dear old Carwyn has already got his banana republic ( or is it a leek and daffodil variety ) Dodgy off shore corporates owning large tracts of H.A. estates and now consultants syphoning off local authority funds ( and probably shafting the Assembly and its primary agencies for similar amounts )

    So Carwyn better get started on sorting out these assorted leeches, it will get bad before it gets better given his sleepy dopey approach to the tasks in front of him. New draft budget today – How much of that is earmarked for pals at PwC, KPMG, McKinsey, Deloitte, Hugh James et al. Even good old Loot, Con & Fleece will get in there somehow, subject to competitive tendering being sorted over a nice lunch somewhere.

  6. Granite

    An eyeopener; I’d be interested in any information that you might have, about the relationship between PwC and Ceredigion County Council.

      1. Stan

        I’ve got to catch that programme as people local to me have been pointing it out as well. A must see by the sounds of it. Thanks Dafis and Granite.

      2. Big Gee

        It certainly is an eye opener Granite. I’ve just finished watching it, thanks to your link – I missed the TV broadcast. An hour well spent.

        The bottom line is, our hard earned cash is being squandered, either to line the pockets of already rich private companies over the border, or to the pockets of the cronies in the pig trough at home.

        They’ve taken advantage of naive and clueless public sector organisations, who are not only being shafted up the anus, but are themselves providing the vaseline for the job!

        Ceredigion County Council is a classic example. Led by a person who is about twenty fathoms out of her depth, evidenced by her amazing performance in the documentary. The previous and devious leader of the Council, Dai Lloyd Evans, (whom I stood against in two local council elections – everyone else were scared of the task, because of his reputation – allowing him unopposed free access for years to the Council) was sharp, not through academic or intellectual prowess, but he had exceptional ‘peasant cunning’ skills. He was investigated for 18 months by the fraud squad, after Seimon Brooks & I instigated the investigation at the height of the Cymuned days and the volcanic reaction that erupted opposing the contrived Unified Development Plan (UDP) that was announced at the time, and skewed to profit land owning councillors, with DLE at the head of the queue. A file was sent to the CPS, but they didn’t take him to court. It was obvious that some back-room deal was done, because he promptly stepped down from his position as leader, and come the end of his tenure as the councillor for the Lledrod ward he disappeared off the radar, never to be heard from again. He has never again stood in any election.

        Ellen ap Gwynn is not the brightest bulb in the room (you only have to look at the name she’s adopted – Ellen son of ??? Gwynn). She has the knack of dressing and sounding the part, and has managed to blag her way into all sorts of positions, including the chair of Plaid in Ceredigion (I was vice chair at the time). Controller of Radio Ceredigion (I was also there at the same time as the presenter of the ‘Llais Y Barcud’ current affairs programme, and had first hand experience of her ineptitude). Before that she was involved with Arad Goch. All total disasters, because she was trying to swim out of her depth – now she’s even further out of her depth. Apparently she started life off as a nursery school assistant, married Iolo ap Gwynn (a lecturer in microscopy at Aber University, whose mother was a distinguished scientist). The family were from a staunch and very active Labour background, until they converted to Plaid – I rest my case!

        Taking public money from Ceredigion County Council would have been easier than taking sweets from a baby for PWC.

        Dafis is right, Dai Lloyd Evans, although a huge adversary of mine in the past, WOULD have told them to ‘PWC’ off! At least he was a Cardi and solid, shady and cunning, but solid. He would have sneaked the money out of the back door and at least directed it towards cronies and family – but at least they in turn would have spent it in the county.

        Check out these links:
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/mid/3581723.stm
        https://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/apr/22/politics.localgovernment
        https://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/utilities/action/act_download.cfm?mediaid=36905&langtoken=eng

    1. dafis

      it would be interesting to hear or read what any insider might be prepared to disclose about these activities especially the Ceredigion/PwC deal which is obviously of some concern because of the prickly demeanour of the Council Chair. Rough old bird, easily flustered makes one yearn for the days of Dai and his pals. He wouldn’t take any fuckin’ about with consultants !

      Better still if we were able to tap into one of these consultants who’s been chiselling large dollops of cash out of gullible councils that would give some serious insight.

      However the serious points include :

      1.what, if any, is the role of the Wales Audit Office in all this ?

      2.To what extent is all this “consultancy led performance improvement ” charade driven from the centre with, for instance, a panel or list of selected consultants nominated by Cardiff Bay ( after a “rigorous” selection process, at least 3 courses ! ) of preferred suppliers ?.

      3.What benchmarks if any are applied to determining the remuneration of these “experts” and how are they given access to such a hefty slice of any savings ? How are savings quantified when there is a year on year shift in service mix delivered due to ongoing changes in demography and general demand patterns ?

      WTF, I could go on ad nauseam about this nonsense. Suffice to say at this stage that all this serves to reinforce our perception that the governance processes in Wales are densely populated by over paid lazy bastards who engage in self serving troughing activity gleefully funded by the public purse and the “professional ” practitioners who have found a way to get their snouts into the trough alongside their contented clients.

        1. dafis

          As an expert Cneifwr might say – someone’s getting fleeced by’ere !

          Again where is the Welsh Audit Service in all this ? Is that agency also being “sponsored” by an organisation oozing empathy with the public sector agencies – Deloitte, KPMG, E & Y, ? or has a cluster of aspiring firms of solicitors led by Jac’s best mates got into this lark of providing “financial assistance” and a sugary dash of virtue signalling by adding a slice of pro bono !!

  7. dafis

    I digress yet again but this theme of waste and the wasters among us is prolific right now. Let me expand.

    I read today that yet another of our “institutions” is back in some sort of limelight – S4C. Sometime actor and programme presenter, Julian Lewis Jones, has turned and bitten the hand wot fed him, which is either very brave or indicates a man who’s been told his series ain’t going to be renewed. Nevertheless his comments which are copied verbatim on the Golwg360 site are quite thought provoking:

    S4C “ar ei thin” oherwydd “baruswydd tymor byr” unigolion – Newyddion – Golwg360

    Part of his statement reads – “From where I see it- A select few have made an extremely comfortable existence off the back of “our channel” . We should be a very “Rich and Affluent” Channel but in reality individuals have “creamed” off the rich resources that our channel were afforded.
    Big Houses in Affluent Areas of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, Luxury Executive Cars, overseas Villas and pointless Countless Re-Fits of Head offices, Pointless New Logos and Re-branding Campaigns( from Expensive Ad agencies in London) have contributed to the Channel’s demise which I am extremely sad to say is on its arse. Short Term greed being the biggest culprit.”

    Critics are already piling in with their main thrust being that JLJ himself has had his snout in the trough and that it’s a bit rich for him to attack “our national treasure” now ! Well I say better late than never. Ever since the start of the austerity season way back in 09-10 or thereabouts when S4C’s sacrosanct budget came in for some scrutiny from our masters at Westminster/Whitehall, it became manifestly evident that our “national treasure” was somewhat lax or lazy in defending and promoting our language and culture. Instead it served as a super duper source of income and benefits for an elite crew of media luvvies who spent most of their time in a zone that was totally detached from reality.

    By early 2012 a new regime was in place apparently operating in a more rigorous financial regime. Closer examination suggests that much of that “rigour” has been applied to programme budgets with many slots handed over to repeats and low cost productions which do little or nothing to inject quality into our collective cultural viewing experience. Apart from the occasional piece of ( relatively ) expensive product the decline in output is quite alarming. Subcontract production companies have been used as means of passing pain out into the supply chain while pain within the S4C clique was restricted to some senior turnover in the wake of the initial crisis but since then it’s business as usual. Rest assured when this lot packs its bags and rolls its wagons westwards to a new H.Q at Carmarthen the relocation/disturbance allowances will be eye watering – will they offer transparency so that the gullible public can have good look at how their “tight budget” is spent ?

    1. Big Gee

      It makes you sick. I fear that the ship has sprung so many leaks, that it’s impossible to plug them all. You’d need a vast army of proper watchdogs to reverse this trend – it’s just out of control.

      1. And I’ve had another threatening letter from Ms Singlehurst-Ward of Hugh James Legal. I’m being asked to remove what I’ve said in this post about Pembrokeshire Housing and Mill Bay Homes.

        Her e-mailed letter was received yesterday at 19:16 and she demands that the offending passage be removed by 9am on Monday, which of course leaves me no time to consult properly with my team of highly-trained lawyers.

        This time, nothing is being taken down. She can go to hell. She and her company growing fat on the public purse – aren’t there lawyers anywhere else in Wales? Also her ‘clients’ down in Pembrokeshire using public money to build houses for sale to any Tom, Dick or Harry (plus of course, friends of those running Mill Bay Homes). And all the other parasites luxuriating in the cesspit constantly topped up with OUR public funding.

        I’m sure enough of my ground this time to make a stand. There will be a new post going up on Monday or Tuesday. (Got more important things to do over the weekend than worry about a flock of vultures down in Cardiff.)

        1. dafis

          That bloke from the BBC might be sufficiently interested in the theme of waste of public funds to spend a year down here reporting on the assorted scammers and deviants. Keep him going for ages – you might even get a commission for supplying reliable intel and research. Hey ho, villa in Abersock for you my boy !

          Back to the real world – I see McEvoy has stirred the pot a bit up in Llangollen – no deal with Labour, very firmly put which must bring a lump to poor old Leanne’s throat !

          And those Walloons showing us how a small devolved region can rare up and make a mark on the EU fat cats. f

        2. Stan

          I’m a complete layman in terms of the law relating to defamation but what these bonepickers are complaining about this time seems innocuous, especially compared to the times when Jac has really got his gnashers into PHA and MBH. It strikes me that they are being a tad over-sensitive about the latest post. It’s a bit rich, isn’t it, when their fees of hundreds of pounds (?) an hour are met from corporate funding of an organisation that relies on public grant assistance. Then they finish their threats to Jac with a suggestion he takes independent legal advice.

          I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist and I can’t help feeling the closer Jac gets to the jugular of those known and unknown Masters of the Universe who are perhaps the real puppet masters in what’s going on in Wales, then the more aggressive the Establishment’s reaction to him. I don’t think this latest threat is related solely to PHA and its issues. Firms like Hugh James and lots of other fancy solicitors, accountants and consultants are making a fortune from public sector work. These corporate vultures have a vested interest in silencing him – and in this case ironically making money too to keep him quiet.

          Good luck with this latest threat, Jac.

          1. She concludes her threatening letter with the almost cheery, “We recommend that you take independent legal advice and look forward to hearing from you”.

            The letter was received (as an e-mail attachment) at 19:16 yesterday and I must comply by 9am on Monday. So how and where am I expected to find this “independent legal advice”. Is this some kind of lawyers’ joke?

            And I agree entirely with your interpretation. What I wrote about Pembrokeshire Housing and Mill Bay Homes was, as you say, “innocuous”, which makes me suspect that the motive for picking on poor old Jac, again, may lie somewhere else.

            There’ll be a new post on Monday, in which I’ll have more to say about Pembrokeshire Housing and Mill Bay Homes, plus a wider look at the mess that is social housing in Wales.

  8. Owen

    So the mighty Hugh James have requested(?) that you remove the following statement, but it is unclear on what grounds:

    ‘Your government gives a great deal of public money to housing associations. These bodies are largely unregulated and, as a consequence, a law unto themselves. (One reason so many of them run into ‘difficulties’.) For example, it is now clear that public money given to Pembrokeshire Housing is routed to its subsidiary Mill Bay Homes for the latter to build private houses for sale, to retirees, perhaps even to be used as holiday homes’.

    The rookie solicitor at Hugh James has not really stated what is ‘false’ about the statement and in fact in her interpretation she has added a number of embellishments with the use of ‘instead has applied them to MBH for commercial purposes’ and further ‘it is passed to MBH when it should not be’. This particular person has made such threats before to you and others and not followed through with any legal action. I think the truth is that she believes that you should not write about the public bodies known as PHA or MBH as it causes political embarrassment i.e. your right to freedom of speech is being stifled by a company (Hugh James) that also receives vast sums of money from the tax payer.

    I am very concerned about the way in which Hugh James are throwing their weight around in what is essentially a grey area regarding the libel laws. It is a matter of pubic record that PHA and MBH are public bodies and in theory are barred from bringing forward a libel action. It is not clear that you have defamed anyone personally within those bodies as in the case CCC v Thomson also, Hugh James have not suggested any personal defamation.

    The timing of the letter and the deadline for remedy leaves you no time to seek legal advice which is disingenuous in the extreme and could be construed as unprofessional. Everyone involved with PHA and MBH know that the financial boundary between them is blurred and a movable feast depending on the audience e.g. annual accounts, shared offices, shared company secretary (Mr Peter Maggs); common financial viability judgement by the regulator and ironically the Hugh James letter was for PHA and MBH – Who is paying the hefty legal bill? or will they go Dutch? – Yet more ambiguity!

    My view is stick by what you have written for now and ignore the siren voice from Hugh James and see what happens next.. Good luck!!

    1. Wynne

      Interesting and helpful comment Owen. You appear to be very knowledgeable on the subject. Do you know why Hugh James are “authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority” as stated in their email disclaimer. Are all solicitors so regulated or does this only apply to Hugh James.

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