Regular readers may recall my October 21st post WalesEye, Jacques Protic and North Wales Police. This was a follow-up to my September 11th offering of WalesEye and Jacques Protic – A Marriage Made in Hell, written soon after becoming aware that the WalesEye blog had quoted from what appeared to be police documents about an investigation into me or my blog, as a result of complaints made against me – oui! moi! – by Jacques Protic. I suggest you read both posts before proceeding otherwise what follows may not make a great deal of sense.
As might be expected, I contacted North Wales Police. Let’s start with this document dated 15.10.2014 which contains both the substance of my Freedom of Information request of 12.09.2014 and the NWP response. This letter came as an attachment to an e-mail and although the e-mail had a name to it the letter itself had neither name nor signature. Basically, what this says is, ‘Because you are the subject of this information we can’t give you this information’. Which I suppose has a certain kafkaesque logic. I responded with this letter addressed to the Chief Constable on 22.10.14 and e-mailed to North Wales Police’s Professional Standards Department.
On the same day I e-mailed the Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Police. This I did by filling in the online form. The first response – within hours – said that my complaint had been passed to the Chief Constable’s office, and the second response, shortly afterwards, said that my complaint had been passed to the North Wales Police’s Professional Standards Department – to which I had already written! – as this section investigates complaints against the police. Read it all here (from the bottom up). I found this rather confusing because I’d complained to the PCC believing it was independent of the police, and yet my complaint was immediately handed over to the police. If the police retain control of investigating complaints against them then what is the point of the PCC?
Around the same time I filled in a SA1 form to find out what information North Wales Police held on me, as suggested in the response to my FoI request, paid my £10 and sent it off. This is the acknowledgement of receipt of that form dated 24.10.2014, and this is the response. Although dated 11.11.2014 I did not receive this response until 17.12.2014, after I telephoned North Wales Police querying its non-arrival. You will also note that this is another letter without a name or a signature. I don’t know whether to attribute this to bad manners or to our police thinking ahead.
Though in fairness, my next communication from NWP dated 17.11.2014 was signed, by Chief Inspector D. Roome. This was the response from the Professional Standards Department. The letter talks of “an action plan” and tells me that my complaint has been passed to the “Chief Information Officer” and that I can shortly expect to hear from a “local manager” assigned to my case. And so it came to pass. On November 19th I was telephoned by an Ian Davies . . . but I was out that day taking some US visitors around Pembrokeshire before bringing them chez nous. I tried ringing him the following day before we went out again, but no one answered.
We eventually spoke on November 24th, and a weird conversation it was. Ian Davies assured me there had been no investigation by North Wales Police into anything I had written on my blog. Consequently he had no idea how the WalesEye blog could have written what it did. Nor could he offer any explanation as to how WalesEye could name two serving NWP officers has having been involved in an investigation that didn’t take place. I got the impression that Ian Davies was choosing his words very carefully. He promised to send me a letter stating what he had just told me.
I waited for the promised letter, and after leaving a few messages on his answering machine, I eventually spoke again with Ian Davies on December 17th. He claimed that after speaking with the department that sends out such letters mine was “eleventh in the queue”. On January 10th I eventually received the promised reply. It contained four documents. First, a covering letter from Detective Chief Inspector David Roome. (In the previous letter signed by him he was ‘Chief Inspector’.) Next was the report I’d been waiting for. To give it it’s full title, North Wales Police Local Proportionate Investigation Report. Finally, there was another copy of the response to my Subject Access Application of November 11th and another copy of the October 15th reply to my initial request for personal information. Let’s look at the first two a little more closely, see what they say, or don’t say, as the case may be.
The covering letter from DCI Roome tells me that “Untrue or inaccurate published comments about individuals is covered under the Deformation (sic) Act 2013 . . . ” (thankfully things have not gone that far in this case). DCI Roome goes on to advise me that I could bring “legal actions against the author(s)”. He ends by thanking me for bringing the matter to the attention of North Wales Police. Wasn’t that a nice letter, boys and girls? . . . well, apart from the suggestion that I might have been deformed by the experience.
Now we move on to the main course, the report itself. This was, I assume, compiled by Ian Davies, for his name is at the foot of the document. The report breaks my complaint up into three parts, which are:
- Complainant has made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the information but has been refused.
- Complainant alleges that information concerning him has been released by the Police to other persons and has appeared in a public forum – the Wales Eye blog which has caused him distress.
- Complainant believes that as the Police did not ask for the article to be removed from the WalesEye blog, it constitutes approval or collusion by the police.
The response to Complaint 1 is basically a rehash of what I’d already been told in other documents – ‘you can’t have information about yourself’. This section concludes with “I have subsequently instructed the system administrators to search our databases, and can confirm that Mr Royston JONES has not been investigated, nor is a suspect in this matter. I can neither confirm nor deny that the existence of any complaint, as this would not be Mr Royston Jones’ personal information.” Which means, what, exactly? “Not a suspect” in which matter? If this means what he told me verbally on November 24th then I and my blog were never under investigation as a result of a complaint made by Jacques Protic. But on the other hand, Ian Davies cannot confirm or deny the existence of any complaint.
Complaint 2 is answered with an assurance that no information (about me and any investigation into my blog?) was ever released into the public domain.
Complaint 3 deals with my suggestion that as North Wales Police did not insist that the WalesEye post be taken down, this could be interpreted as “approval or collusion by thePolice”. The report says, “I have found no evidence to suggest that NWP was aware of the article on the WalesEye blog . . . “. In fact, North Wales Police was made aware of the offending blog post in my original FoI request to the Chief Constable on September 12th, 2014. A letter NWP acknowledged receipt of in their letter of September 17th. A letter that says: “The content of your letter has been noted and logged”. It is now January 19th, four months on, and ‘Don’t Call the Boys in Blue’ is still available on the WalesEye blog, naming serving police officers and referring to a (non-existent) investigation into something I had written on my blog. Leaving me to conclude that NWP has no problem at all with this article.
Elsewhere in the response to Complaint 3 Ian Davies mentions telephone conversations with me on 24/11/14 and 04/12/2014. We can agree on the first, and while I have no log of the second I won’t quibble, but we most definitely had another telephone conversation on December 17th, which Ian Davies does not mention.
So what have we learnt? If I had to sum up what I’ve been told by North Wales Police it would be, ‘There was no investigation into anything you might have written on your blog following a complaint by Mr Jacques Protic . . . but even if there was we wouldn’t tell you’. Which advances us not at all, leaving me with little more than my original suspicions.
The post that appeared on WalesEye clearly stated that I had been investigated by North Wales Police following a complaint by Jacques Protic. The post (available here in PDF format) even names the officers involved, and claims one of them was disciplined for not doing his job properly. Yet Ian Davies assured me in a telephone conversation on November 24th that there had been no investigation into anything I had written on my blog. And this appeared to have been confirmed in the Local Proportionate Investigation Report. So where did WalesEye get the information? Was it all a fabrication? Unlikely. (And it’s not as if this post was the first; just eight days earlier WalesEye had taken another pop at poor old Jac with this post.)
I see no reason to change my initial suspicion that Protic complained about me to North Wales Police and they went through the motions before fobbing him off with some story about a botched investigation . . . which he then took to WalesEye and they ran with it because – and for reasons I cannot fathom – I am not universally loved in that quarter. (Yes, I know, it’s difficult to believe.) Why do I suspect this is what happened?
Largely because of what Protic was writing under his own name at around this time. On September 9th, the day before the piece appeared on WalesEye, Protic put out this example of his state of mind on his Glasnost blog. (Here in PDF format.) He rails against “cybernats”, and talks specifically of damage to his car, claiming that North Wales Police is “doing nothing tangible” to protect him. Later he refers to “the ongoing erosion of policing standards”. The article also deals with another complaint he’d made to North Wales Police about Conwy Education Authority illegally forcing children to learn Welsh. Read the piece, especially the highlighted sections in the PDF version, and you’ll see that here is a man who sees enemies everywhere and feels let down by North Wales Police, the local Police and Crime Commission (who is a Welsh speaker!) and even the IPCC, that Protic says “effectively said, ‘Bugger Off'”. This man’s hatred for everything Welsh, but especially the language, has affected his reasoning and sense of proportion. How detached from reality does one need to be to believe that Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones belong to some nationalist conspiracy – because they are “Welsh speaking Celts”?
In this shocking episode I have been both lied about and lied to, and now I want the truth. So I am looking for a lawyer to advise me on a possible case of harrassment / slander / defamation (mercifully not ‘deformation’?) / and whatever charge(s) might attach to the wrongful release or misuse of police data. I need some leonine figure to bound from the jungle of jurisprudence to take up my case, an exemplar of his profession comparable to my hero, Waldorf T. Flywheel, shown in the picture. (Moustache, cigar and funny walk all optional.) Said paragon will be expected to offer advice gratis and to take any case on a No win, No fee basis. Offers to: firstname.lastname@example.org.