As the title tells you, this is a guest post by former Plaid Cymru MS Neil McEvoy.
Neil has made enemies. When you know who those enemies are then, just like I did, you’ll warm to him. A man I’ve always found to be straight, honest, and approachable.
Neil’s enemies tend to have certain things in common. Almost without exception they belong to the ‘progressive’ – if not Woke – consensus that dominates the cess-pit I always refer to on this blog as ‘Corruption Bay’.
These are politicians, third sector / pressure groups (who have more influence over ‘our’ politicians than we do), unregulated lobbyists (ditto), and ‘journalists’ so supine they might as well be on the Labour-Plaid-Green payroll. Perhaps they are.
This is the new colonial elite. The creation of devolution. They will fight to keep devolution, they will demand more power (and money) from London for their gravy train, but the thought of independence terrifies them.
Now read on.
I quickly found out that my job was to not rock the boat, not to expose scandals, but to toe the line. Plaid Cymru was furious when I asked questions about Deryn’s client ACT obtaining £113 million from the Welsh Government.
They were furious when I asked questions about Deryn’s dodgy contract with OFCOM. I was told many times to leave it well alone. I later discovered that Deryn itself had asked Plaid Cymru to rein me in. My senior advisor was told to tell me to stop asking questions about Plaid Cymru’s lobbying firm, or “face the consequences.”
I had to go home to my wife to tell her that my ability to pay our mortgage would be gone, if I continued to ask questions which powerful people did not want put. My wife was rock solid and said that if we had a choice between earning a good living, or sticking to our principles, then we would stick to our principles. Very soon after getting married, my wife realised why I told her to not take my surname. Let’s just say life is never dull.
Eleven days after the story about Deryn which I was supposed to ignore became public, I was suspended from the Plaid Cymru Senedd Group, supposedly for being found guilty of bullying by the Ombudsman for saying that I wanted to restructure Cardiff Council to change eviction processes and stop people being evicted.
Plaid just did not care about us winning seats in the Council Elections in 2017. It was clear that senior people wanted us to lose. I was reminded at the time that they did not want me elected in the first place. In 2016, we were the busiest Plaid team in Wales, but I was the only candidate in a target seat to lose party funding. They also took Senedd staff off me at a crucial point and gave them to Simon Thomas; more about him later. Anyway, as you can gather Plaid Cymru used Senedd staff to campaign politically in Senedd time. Every party does this. It would be odd if they didn’t.
Moving on, I was the first politician in 17 years to ask to see Government Ministers’ diaries. I had a whistle blower about a matter and I needed to prove certain meetings had taken place. The Government refused to publish the diaries retrospectively, but after a fuss agreed in early 2017 to publish them going forward. I was still able to prove that lobbyists had access to ministers by simply flashing around a photograph of lobbyists with ministers in the Senedd.
Both Labour and Plaid Cymru voted against my proposal to bring in rules for lobbyists in Wales. This keeps covered the awkward fact that Welsh politics is run by a small group of people, who do not want scrutiny.
In March 2017, complaints were made about me, almost all connected to Deryn. It was pay back time.
After the 2017 election in June, I suspended my office manager. There were complaints he had harassed a young female and I had witnessed one incident myself. Members of the public had also complained about him for not doing his job; one person also witnessed the harassment. Michael Deem had also misused my office budget, causing me to have to pay for an expensive unwanted item myself. Shockingly, I later discovered that Deem had taken photographs of a child protection file and kept the details of the children on his phone. I was sickened and staggered. I sacked him.
The man who had harassed a young woman and had stored details of children on his phone was supported by Plaid Cymru and he made further complaints about me. He was later employed by the Plaid Cymru Senedd member who replaced me, Rhys ab Owen, whose brother Rhodri is a lobbyist, who worked with Daran Hill at Positif Politics. Rhodri Ab Owen is now managing partner and co-owner of a re-branded Camlas Public Affairs, listing big pharmaceuticals as clients.
The complaints process took on a life of its own. The BBC’s Aled ap Dafydd always knew more than me about what was going on. He became the first journalist who I refused to deal with. I later discovered he was in a relationship with Plaid Cymru’s Head of Communications, who was later given a top job by Plaid Cymru’s Presiding Officer at the Senedd.
Plaid Cymru denied on behalf of Deryn that the complaints about me were coordinated. Please note that a political party was answering for a lobbying firm.
The Deryn issue rumbled on. I understand they monitored me closely. My complaint had merit and they lost the disputed contract.
Rhodri Williams who oversaw the contract process left OFCOM and re-appeared as the Chair of S4C.
I was really unhappy with the Standards Complaints process. Before it began, a key organiser of the complaints, who had known the former Standards Commissioner for decades had a meeting about me. I was not allowed to attend and there were no notes of the meeting. I stated that the former Standards Commissioner had allowed himself to be lobbied.
I was so concerned at what was happening that I requested the audio recordings of my hearings. It took some time to get them, but it was worth the wait. I heard the former Standards Commissioner making a derogatory remark about me when I was out of the room. The complainant and Standards staff were present when it was said.
In the public interest and for self-defence, I then decided to secretly record everything when I was out of the room. If the hearing was at 9am, I would place my phone under the table on record at 8.15am. I would usually irritate the Standards staff by then turning up late for the hearing, which gave them plenty of time to voice their true feelings about me. This went on for months, with hours of audio footage. I heard the investigators discussing the case with the complainant, who was offered advice and help in his career. I heard about a lack of evidence against me. I also listened to the same complaints made about another MS not taken forward. I also heard about a really serious matter just brushed under the carpet.
It was also shocking to hear about staff saying they had consulted with a senior member of the Senedd staff who was open to just seeing my appeal against guilt, “just thrown out,” before I had even made the appeal. This was the basis for the police investigation into Standards staff, which did not result in charges being laid by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Knowing what I knew, I pulled out of the farce and refused to play any further part on legal advice.
Months later, my staff member was threatened with imprisonment; I felt that things had gone too far and I pulled the trigger on the recordings. The Standards Commissioner resigned. At that point, the so called investigation should have been dismissed.
The complaints process was delayed, which provoked what I can only describe as “fury”.
A new commissioner came in and continued a very unjust process as I see it.
I continued my work exposing what I could:
Two Welsh Government properties being sold at almost a £1 million loss.
Light bulbs costing £245 and being fitted in just a few minutes.
Our office brought the plutonium laced nuclear mud scandal to public attention.
I blew the whistle of the fake fire safety certificates in the cladding scandal.
I was vilified in writing by Plaid Cymru Members of the Senedd for attacking the early retirement of Natural Resources Wales’ Chief Executive, after the £39 million wood contract being found to be unlawful by the Auditor General.
I pursued many family cases and employed a social worker to do so. Supporting a child alleging abuse in care got me called a bully again and banned from the Council for 4 months. The alleged abuser started the complaint. An issue conveniently ignored by ‘journalists’, politicians and useful idiots on new media, all eager to stick the boot in, whilst ignoring the poor child’s allegations.
I pleaded with journalists to give the child a voice, but the author of the WalesOnline article today, Ruth Mosalski and her husband Cemlyn Davies of the BBC had no appetite to find out what had happened to the child. I am still as disgusted now as I was then at how those people had such little care for what a child said happened to it. Shame on them. I can look in the mirror in the morning without guilt. I cannot see how they can do the same thing.
Shamefully, when I said that the paedophile Plaid MS Simon Thomas should have gone to jail, disciplinary action was taken against me for bringing Plaid Cymru “into disrepute”.
This made me feel sick and I ultimately withdrew my application to get back into Plaid Cymru. We backed Dewi Evans in his bid to clean up Plaid, but he was prevented from campaigning and bureaucratic means were used to stop members voting. My time with Plaid, such a disorganised hypocrisy was over in the Autumn of 2019. A once proud Plaid Cymru has been reduced to being a poodle for the corrupt Labour Party, cheaply bought off with press opportunities, appointments on public bodies and jobs.
Fast forward to September 2021 and the complaints process was complete and written up. The reports were held back until now, just as the Council election campaign is starting.
I deny doing anything other than being a politician. I did my job. My staff printed and folded material for example opposing Cardiff’s Local Development plan and I did so unashamedly. I paid for the folding machine.
I am supposedly guilty of using electricity for political purposes. Are they serious?
Who does not do that? Both Labour and Plaid Cymru Senedd Groups were also found guilty of misusing public resource for political purposes, but those details were not covered by the Welsh media. Plaid Cymru used the Senedd restricted areas for party political filming, but nothing was done.
I did interview someone on the Senedd estate about a political job; which party political group has not done that? I did attend a party political meeting on the Senedd estate for which Plaid Cymru kindly provided the invite and minutes to the Standards Commissioner. The irony is that Leanne Wood’s staff booked the room, yet it was me who carried the can. I did organise a few political meetings in my office. Which MS has not done that?
The Standards Commissioner got the most basic details wrong. I did correct him on the Committee, but that did not make the report. For example, he accused me of employing a family member who is no relation to me at all!
One staff member did have an exchange of messages with a complainant. It was not a wise move, but after being harangued in public by the same person who was worse the wear for alcohol, it was difficult to look too unkindly on the exchange.
If anyone ever has the chance to look at all the documentation regarding the complaints, they will see that the complaints changed as the process went on. I was first accused on producing 250,000 leaflets on the Assembly printer. A simple look at the manufacturing specification showed that this was impossible. Eventually, the total was boiled down to a few thousand.
When I was in the Senedd, I donated my councillor allowance to various causes. I am not motivated by money. On the grounds of natural justice, I will not pay the sum of money plucked out of thin air, because I do not owe anybody anything. I pay my way and I will not credit such a shocking stitch up with any financial contribution.
The good in all this is that Propel was born. We are still not even one year old, but have so much going for us and a collective of people in every Welsh constituency who support freedom and social equality. We have had a belly full of the rotten core at the heart of Welsh politics. A democratic Welsh revolution, underpinned by a Welsh constitution is our aim.
Propel is uncomplicated, principled, and intent of giving Wales a much better option for all our futures. I’r gad and watch this space.
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