Leisure & Development Ltd

Jul 192018
 

Well I promised I’d be back, and when you’ve got a gift that keeps on giving . . .

As the title suggests, this is the sixth episode in a saga that I’m more convinced than ever will end in tears for the central characters. And they will be the authors of their own downfall.

If you’ve stumbled on this site looking for Viagra, or you wanted to lay a bet on Cardiff City winning the Premier League (well, laff!!), why not stay tuned, but first catch up with previous instalments, Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5.

LET’S GET UP TO DATE . . .

In what I assume was an attempt at ‘balance’ the Mid Wales Journal followed up its report of 6 July on hotels being abandoned by Paul and Rowena Williams and/or Keith Partridge with the report below a week later.

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In this we read Keith Partridge blame the neglect of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel on “foul and abusive notices” being found around these properties. He was also outraged by social media posts and web sites. (Some people, eh!)

These assaults on Partridge’s honesty, and his motives, have caused him and his cohorts, to “rethink our strategy”, with the outcome of the rethink to be given by the end of August.

What a load of bollocks! He shut the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel telling staff these hotels would be closed for a few months for refurbishment and re-branding. When it was seen that nothing was being done people started asking questions about Partridge, and a can of worms was opened.

The truth has now emerged about him, the accountant Duggan, and Paul and Rowena Williams. But Partridge is using the suspicion and hostility he and the rest of the gang have generated as justification for doing nothing.

My gut feeling is that it was never in the plan to re-open these hotels. But with so much evidence about the gang now in the public domain, and with politicians, media and many others asking questions, their plan has been rumbled, and they’re not sure which way to jump.

THE MAN HIMSELF

Companies House tells us that Paul Steven Williams was born 23.02.1969.

His Linkedin profile tells us that before becoming a hotelier and property tycoon he worked for Royal Mail for eleven years as ‘National Facilities Manager’. We are told that his, ” . . . responsibility covered the management, acquisition and refurbishment of the Royal Mails (sic) £5 billion portfolio of UK properties”.

The manner in which the job is described suggests that this is where he learnt about property, how to acquire, exploit and dispose of property, plus all manner of short-cuts and dodges. Doing this job he must have made many useful contacts in the property world.

If you go up towards the top of the Linkedin page you’ll see ‘Paul Williams’ Posts’, ten in all. I was particularly taken by one dated October 2, 2015 and introduced as “Our Next Hotel Project …………..is….” and it turns out to be the Fronoleu Country Hotel near Dolgellau. In case it disappears from the internet, you can read it here.

FRONOLEU

Upon reading that I thought to myself,‘Well, if this project was already under way in early October 2015 then it must surely be finished by now. So I shall hire me a charabanc and take a party of merry-makers up there!’

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But alas, when we got there, this is what we found! It was terrible! The shrieks of the women, the crying of the children, the men cursing – ‘There was football on the telly, you bastard!’ 

What went wrong? We were told this project was under way in 2015, Paul Williams even showed us the plans on his Linkedin post. Surely he wasn’t lying?

And yet, I can’t find any record of a planning application ever being submitted for this property, and I searched both the Gwynedd council and the National Park websites. To judge by what I saw when I visited, the place was cleaned out some time ago, and that’s all that’s been done. It was bought, gutted, and left to rot.

The only sign of recent human intervention was the cut grass to the left of the hotel, probably cut by whoever lives in the house just out of picture in the same direction. Particularly poignant, I thought, was the state of the three flags, resembling standards on some long forgotten field of combat.

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But how did Paul and Rowena Williams come into possession of Fronoleu?

Given the dates we already have in 2015 I suspect it was bought at this auction. The information given is interesting, and amusing. It tells potential buyers, “The more extensive amenities of Caernarfon and Bangor are accessible to the north respectively without saying that Caernarfon is over 40 miles away, Bangor further, and that Aberystwyth and Newtown are both nearer.

Obviously penned by someone who knows sod all about the area. Another give-away was calling Tabor a village, which is like describing Dolgellau as a metropolis. And while the former county town of Merioneth is indeed 1½ miles away – if you’ve got black, shiny feathers – it can only be reached from Fronoleu by risking the single-track unlisted road that runs to and from this isolated property.

(Our charabanc scared the shit out of a cyclist who reacted in the manner I suspect greets alien landings. I hope he wasn’t injured diving through that hedge.)

The ‘Joint Auctioneer’ is the Manchester office of Christie & Co. (Just can’t get away from Manchester, can we?) The sale was handled by Martin Davis, who has since moved on to Bilfinger GVA.

I’m sure Fronoleu serves some purpose lying empty and losing money but don’t be surprised if it catches afire or goes to auction again soon.

UPDATE: I hear from a council source that towards the end of last year council tax debts on Fronoleu had reached such a level that Cyngor Gwynedd threatened to go into Seiont Manor and seize ‘goods to the value’. This was averted only when £10,000 was paid over the phone by card.

GOOD WITH FIGURES

I’ve just mentioned John Duggan, who serves as the gang’s accountant, and works out of a shed in the village of Leintwardine in north Herefordshire.

Leisure and Development Ltd, the company we are asked to believe was sold for £10m to another crook, Keith Partridge, in February, was using Duggan’s shed as the company’s registered office address, but earlier this month the address was changed to the Knighton Hotel.

Can’t you just imagine Keith Partridge sitting down one morning to his kedgeree, switching on his tablet to read Jac o’ the North and exclaiming in a voice resonant of both shock and horror – ‘Well, bless my soul, John Duggan is a crook! Who’d have thought it . . . lovely man . . . such impressive offices at Unit 3 . . . We’ll have to take our business elsewhere . . . ‘

How they’ve been allowed to get away with it I do not know. Let’s stick with Leisure & Development Ltd for a minute. This company was formed 19 January 2015; then, in July 2015, no less than 7 charges were registered, these being loans from the National Westminster Bank. Yet the accounts submitted for that period, up to 31 January 2016 – by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister – are for a dormant company!

Clearly Leisure & Development Ltd was not a dormant company. And I guarantee that no responsible accountant or lawyer would have signed off that statement, so Paul Williams’ sister had to do it.

Though in fairness, the accounts for 31 January 2017 (or the ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’) were produced by an accountant – John Duggan, of J D Accountancy, Leintwardine.

EBBW VALE

An unlikely locale in which to find Paul and Rowena Williams, who specialise in country hotels, which then makes the former Badminton Club an even more unlikely purchase. But buy it they did and may have renamed it the Beaufort Sports and Social Club.

I’m not sure when they bought it, or whether it was through an auction – maybe someone in the area can help?

What I can say is that it was sold in December 2017 for a stated price of just £60,000.

Which then leaves the big questions:

  1. Did Paul and Rowena Williams initially buy the Badminton Club in their own name(s)?
  2. If not, when and from whom did Rural Retreats & Leisure acquire the property?
  3. Did Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd pay a strangely high price for the property?
  4. Was the property then sold at a loss?

GLYNLLIFON

Now we turn to the jewel in the crown, the reason given for allegedly selling the other properties to Keith Partridge.

The latest figure given for the Glynllifon project is £20m. Even if we accept that Paul and Rowena Williams received £10m for their other properties from Partridge (which raises the question of where he got the money), that still leaves a shortfall of £10m.

Fortunately, this money-pit is, according to The Caterer, being funded by the other Gwynedd properties.

We’ve already seen that Fronoleu isn’t making any contribution, and the only establishment that is open for business is the Seiont Manor Hotel. Run by Rikki Reynolds who, from the information I’ve received, seems either disinterested or out of his depth.

On top of which, Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch are themselves going to cost millions to renovate. As if that wasn’t enough of a financial burden, Paul Williams has told people he wants to ‘buy’ four more hotels in the area!

Picture courtesy of Daily Post, click to enlarge.

The figures don’t add up because Plas Glynllifon was taken on in order to raise more money. When everything eventually goes mammaries heavenwards the gang will drive off in brand-new Range Rovers, every glove compartment and other storage area stuffed with readies.

In the meantime, in the hope of persuading people that renovation is under way, Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor serve as repositories for fixtures and fittings looted from elsewhere.

And who’s to say the partnership will even hold? Because I hear of rows between Paul and Rowena Williams, with her often sleeping on an inflatable bed.

Face it, these people are crooks. Before long, as the NatWest Bank, HMRC and the police close in Gwynedd will be back to square one with a massive derelict mansion and a few smaller properties for which no uses can be found and no honest buyers.

UPDATE: Crooks they may be, but I’m sure they don’t have people whacked, which is a possibility that went through my mind when I was told about a ‘director’ who was there at Seiont Manor one day and was gone the next, never to be seen again.

The man I’m talking about is Mark McNicol, who describes himself on his Linkedin profile as ‘Operations Director – Rural Retreats & Leisure’, a job he’s held since April 2016. Which is a bit confusing, for Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd changed its name to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2015. (Surely they’d have told him?)

Otherwise, he must mean Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. This, you’ll remember, is the company the gang tried to strike off, so not much future there.

For some reason I can no longer reach his Linkedin profile, but fortunately I grabbed it earlier.

HMRC

Having mentioned HMRC I suppose I’d better explain why. It’s because Team Williams has a long-standing policy of paying in cash. Staff are paid in cash, suppliers are paid in cash, just about any deal that can be done in cash will be done in cash.

Inevitably, this means imaginative accounting – which is where Duggan of Cell Block B comes in – but documents still need to be produced. As I mentioned in the previous post, staff at Seiont Manor are given pay slips saying one thing (with no deductions for PAYE or NI), while the correct amount is paid by cheque.

I have now been sent some documents by former employees. This first one shows no tax paid while working at Seiont Manor. This individual is now paying extra tax to make up for the non-payment that is the responsibility of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. (A company whose accounts are done by John Duggan.)

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In another case, the salary was understated on the P60. In this example we are asked to believe that this person – earning £30,000 a year – was paid just £2,500 between November and April.

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I have other documents all pointing in the same direction. Documents I will be happy to make available to HMRC. Those who’ve supplied me with the documents are ready to fully explain how this illegality is perpetrated. And I’m sure they have much more to tell.

This gang is always cutting corners, always lying, always cheating somebody. That’s because they are liars and crooks. There’s a story emerging of the deal Paul Williams struck with a certain drinks company. Of course he’s reneged on that deal, and the thug who runs the Waves Bar for him/Partridge in Cornwall has threatened a representative of the company with violence if he dares ask again for what’s owed.

For as we learnt in Weep for Wales 5, the Waves Bar in Seaton, Cornwall, is run by Stuart Paul Cooper, another crook done for fraud. But Cooper also has a taste for violence, and regularly threatens to burn down people’s homes – with them inside.

That’s three convicted fraudsters – that we know of – working for or with Paul and Rowena Williams: Keith Partridge, who’s supposed to have bought the properties outside Gwynedd, and has known Paul Williams for years. John Duggan, their accountant, who fleeced an old lady out of £700,000. And ‘Burn-’em-alive’ Cooper down in Cornwall.

We are judged by the company we keep, and when you keep company like that . . .

NATWEST AND TOGETHER

Finally, one thing that’s been puzzling me is why any bank or finance company would lend money to these crooks. I suppose the easy answer would be that they’ve got collateral in the form of hotels and the fixtures and fittings they contain. But what if the value of those hotels and other property is greatly inflated?

Seeing as NatWest stopped lending to the companies run by Paul and Rowena Williams early in 2016, I guess warning lights flashed and somebody said – ‘Enough!’. A theory strengthened by news that NatWest in February 2017 was trying to ‘restructure’ the loans. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

The document you’ve just read relates to Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. It’s dated 2 February 2017. On the Companies House website, a day later, the registered office address was changed from Unit 3 in Leintwardine (John Duggan) to Plas Glynllifon. Had NatWest rumbled John Duggan?

Whatever the answer – and as I just mentioned in relation to Mark McNicol – in May this year there was an attempt by the owners to strike off the company, and with it of course the debt to the National Westminster Bank. The procedure was halted by an objection from a public-spirited citizen.

All of which tells me that NatWest is innocent of any shenanigans. It is a victim in this affair. But what of Together Commercial Finance Ltd, the equivalent of a pay day loan company that replaced NatWest? The more I think about the relationship between the gang and Together Commercial Finance Ltd the more I see a partnership. If so, who’s taking the hit?

While you ponder this and more you might care to peruse a sheet I’ve put together that lists the dealings of the Williams-Partridge gang in a timeline determined by the dates of the many charges against their companies interspersed with noteworthy events.

Stay alert out there and don’t swap your cow for any magic beans. You listening!

♦ end ♦

 

Jul 082018
 

Well, here we are again. And why are we here again? Because there have been further developments, that’s why. Some of them encouraging developments.

In addition, I’ve been doing a bit more thinking. Standing back, as it were, trying to take in the big picture, because what confronts us is designed to mislead and confuse. With companies forming and constantly changing names, addresses and directors. People taking out mortgages to buy property from themselves. Buy-outs that are probably nothing of the kind. And a web of lies designed to hide what’s really happening.

All made easier by the gullibility of politicians and media over a wide area and for a considerable period of time.

Fortunately, the fog is clearing.

If you’re new to this saga then to help you better understand what follows, I suggest you read Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3 and Weep for Wales 4.

NEWS FROM THE NORTH

There’s little official news but snippets continue to reach my penthouse office at Jac o’ the North Towers about how the Williams Gang operates.

The former head chef at the Seiont Manor Hotel was able to provide me with more information on the curious payment arrangements. In his case, pay slips reading £500 every month but much larger amounts – the agreed salary – actually going into his bank account.

He was also able to give me bank details for the source of the money. I won’t use that information here but any official agency interested in seeing the information is welcome to contact me. The head chef and his team were constructively dismissed in order to provide work for chefs moving up from the now closed Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne and the Castle Inn in Wigmore. Other staff were also elbowed out.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: After discussing it with the man concerned I have decided to release copies of the relevant documents. They’re not perfect pictures but they show payslips for March and May this year, with no PAYE or NI paid, and showing net pay of £500, with the corresponding bank entries for those months showing £1,973.00. Click here.

It seems that the Williams Gang likes to have ‘loyalists’ on the books . . . or should that be ‘off the books’? Whatever, another loyalist is the handyman, a local who’s made comments to my Facebook page, some of which he’s deleted. To believe Noel Jordan of Penygroes Wales couldn’t manage without people like Paul, Rowena, Rikki and the gang because we Welsh are too stupid to do things for ourselves. Speak for yourself, Noel.

Though Noel has stopped defending Team Williams, perhaps because it’s finally penetrated even his thick skull that they’re crooks. Now he attacks me for my FWA connections and my political stance, previously unknown facts he’s gleaned from – Phil Parry at The Eye. Well, laff!!

Something else the former head chef told me was that Rikki Reynolds, running Seiont Manor for Paul and Rowena Williams, doesn’t seem much concerned if the business makes money or not. Which I suggest confirms my theory – what’s important is the buildings and the money that can be raised on them or channelled through them, the businesses in those buildings are dispensable, as are the people working in them.

This explains why businesses in buildings owned by Paul and Rowena Williams just limp along or close.

So unconcerned is Rikki Reynolds about the state of the Seiont Manor Hotel that I’m told old furniture, televisions, fryers, and other junk litters the grounds, and the interior’s not a lot better.

Seiont Manor Hotel, click to enlarge

And if anything goes wrong you’d better try to fix it yourself because no local tradesman will answer the call until he gets pad for his previous visits. (Thank God for trusty, forelock-tugging Noel!) Bailiffs and others looking for money are regular visitors to Seiont Manor. Though come to that, they’re regular visitors to every Williams’ property.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: Here’s an example of an unpaid bill at Seiont Manor. One of thousands.

Before leaving the north let’s make a quick visit to Plas Glynllifon.

Someone sent me the picture below, which I’m afraid is not perfect, but still . . . it shows the small lake in the grounds of Plas Glynllifon with a sign reading ‘Beware of Sharks’ above a picture of Paul and Rowena Williams. I’m told that the hand behind the sign, reaching up, represents a creditor.

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ANOTHER TRIP TO CORNWALL

On our previous visits to Cernyw we have concentrated on Polvellan House or Manor in West Looe, now we’re going to the community of Seaton, a couple of miles along the coast towards Plymouth.

Like a bundle of other properties this is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company we’re told was sold on 1 February this year to Keith Harvey Partridge, though Paul Williams remains a director.

The property owned in Seaton is listed on this Land Registry title document as The Pavilion, though it’s now known as the Waves Bar. Confusingly, it is also known as The Courtyard according to this Charge from 2016 referring to the purchase by Leisure & Development. It’s definitely the same place because it has the same LR title number. So why three names?

Whatever it’s called Leisure & Development paid almost two million pounds for it on 1 February 2016, which sounds rather high. But if it follows the pattern we found elsewhere then Paul and/or Rowena Williams already owned the place and sold it to themselves at an inflated price in order to get the mortgage money.

Another mortgage or loan was taken out 10 May this year with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle, after the alleged sale to Partridge. Which might be taken as evidence of the sale.

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Despite having sold the Courtyard/Pavilion/Waves Bar Rowena Williams still has a soft spot for the place, to judge by her Facebook page. Though little else is being posted nowadays.

But the reason we’re in Seaton is because someone assures me that the manager of the Waves Bar, Stuart Cooper, is this Stuart Paul Cooper.

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If Cooper the Waves Bar manager is indeed the same man referred to in the article, then that gives us three convicted fraudsters doing business with Paul and Rowena Williams. There’s Keith Partridge, then there’s John Duggan, their accountant, who featured in the previous post, and now Stuart Cooper.

This is no coincidence.

Finally, for those taken in by the Open Days at Glynllifon last month, someone in Cornwall tells me that the same stunt was pulled down there with Polvellan Manor. Now described as one of Cornwall’s most at risk houses.

UPDATE: Soon after putting this piece up I was directed to information relating to the Waves Bar. This information tells us that Cooper threatens to burn down people’s houses with them inside. Paul Williams thinks Cooper is a splendid fellow and defended him to the hilt when Devon and Cornwall Police tried to close down the Waves Bar.

If you want insights into the character of Paul Williams, the kind of people he employs, the way he runs his businesses, and his contempt for all authority, then it’s all here. Just scroll down to the section on Waves Bar. It’ll take a while to read it all, but believe me, it’s worth it.

UPDATE 09.07.2018: Here’s another worrying insight from Cornwall into Paul Williams’ modus operandi.

THE POWYS FRONT

Where it’s hats off to Mid Wales Journal reporter Karen Compton. We seem to have finally found a journalist who isn’t content with being spoon-fed the Williams’ lies. By comparison, the Daily Post has churned out one puff after another that could have been – and probably were – dictated by Paul and Rowena Williams.

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Congratulations to Ms Compton also for recognising that the ‘sale’ of the properties to Keith Partridge may be no more than a transfer of shares, just smoke and mirrors.

The Mid Wales Journal report states that the hotels owned by Paul and Rowena Williams – via Leisure & Development Ltd – were sold to “Keith Partridge of Coast 2 Coast Limited”.

There appear to be four companies answering to that name with which Partridge is involved: Coast 2 Coast Resorts Ltd; Coast2Coast Land Ltd; Coast2Coast Shores Ltd; Coast 2 Coast Developments Ltd. (Why no Coast 2 Coast Coasts Ltd?) Though Sukhbinder Singh Heer, who also joined Leisure & Development Ltd on the same day as Partridge, has no involvement with any of them. So how does he fit in?

Then there’s the Charge taken on against Leisure & Development Ltd, with shady lender Together Commercial Finance Ltd after the Partridge takeover, this is the Charge we looked at in connection with the Waves Bar in Seaton.

If this Charge explains how the purchase was funded then we are asked to believe that Partridge raised ten million pounds to buy these properties, at what must be crippling rates given his criminal record and the reputation of the lender . . . then he leaves a number of them empty!

As I’ve consistently suggested, the alleged sale of these properties to Keith Partridge was a subterfuge; done partly to take the heat off Paul and Rowena Williams, and partly to raise more money. Which explains why the Mid Wales Journal found it so difficult to contact any of them.

GRANTS

The Mid Wales Journal headline reads, ‘Assembly Acts Over Shut Hotels’, which I’m not sure is correct. What the report actually says is that the Assembly is looking into whether any public funding paid to the Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms Hotel can be recouped. Which to me looks a long way short of action.

We have since learnt from Kirsty Williams AM that under the Tourism Investment Support Scheme the Knighton Hotel received £254,200 and the Radnorshire Arms £170,000. This, remember, is just one funding stream, for it’s suggested that these two establishments received more than the figures just quoted.

What I find most disturbing in this aspect of the affair is the admission by the Minister responsible (a certain Dafydd Elis Thomas), ” . . . the applicant (Mr & Mrs Paul and Rowena Williams) failed to provide final post completion information despite numerous requests to do so”.

So Paul and Rowena Williams trousered £424,200, then refused to confirm that it had been spent properly, or at all; yet the ‘Welsh’ Government couldn’t be bothered to send a pith-helmeted expedition into darkest Powys to check. The conscientious civil servants handling our money just shrugged their shoulders and said, ‘Nah, sod it!’.

As I’ve mentioned, I have a FoI request with the ‘Welsh’ Government asking about grants to the Williams Gang and their properties. I got a reply asking me to stipulate which grants I was enquiring about, presumably in the hope I’d screw up and ask about grants for growing rape seed. But should I need to be so specific?

Are we to believe that there is no central reference for grant funding? That it’s impossible to type ‘Knighton Hotel’ or ‘Paul Steven Williams’ into a shared database and not be told how much grant funding they’ve received?  There used to a website called Transparent Wales(?) that provided this information at the click of a mouse, what happened to it?

A PLACE IN THE SUN

We’ve already encountered Paul Williams’ sister Debra Yvonne Oswald, who seems to have jetted about the world a bit, and may occasionally be found in Goa. ‘Goa!’, you cry, ‘Goa!’. Yes indeedy, the former Portuguese colony, now a state of India, destination for hippies and all manner of interesting characters.

But Debs is no hippy, she’s a businesswoman, and she has a company in Goa, Pleasant Time Guest Houses Private Ltd. though it looks like another of those companies that’s never done anything. Formed in November 2007 it held its last AGM 30 September 2014 and is currently lined up for strike off.

The other directors are Debra’s husband, her (and Paul’s) parents, and a Peter d’Souza, probably a local lawyer.

Goa. Wait! are those the chalets from behind the Radnorshire Arms?

Why would the Williams family want to start a company in a place notorious for being a gangsters’ paradise, where Nigerian, Russian and Israeli gangsters launder their money and do their deals? And with India being a country from which it’s notoriously difficult to extradite anyone to the UK.

TIME TO CLOSE THE TRAP

At the risk of repeating myself . . .

We have here a gang involved in some kind of financial crime. It could be mortgage fraud, it could be money laundering, it could be both. To which can be added a host of lesser offences, among them the non-payment of income tax and national insurance, or damaging a listed building . . .

A combination of sunshine, Argie red and digging into the antics of these crooks is making my brain boil. I’ve written over ten thousand words on these shysters – I need a break. So unless startlingly fresh information comes in I shall hold back on the Williams Gang until I write a more general update.

That said, there is now enough information in the public domain to justify action from the police, HMRC, the ‘Welsh’ Government, and a number of local authorities and other bodies.

I would suggest that this action be taken sooner rather than later. I say that because Paul and Rowena Williams must know the game is up, and so it would be reasonable to assume that they’re looking for a way out. They can’t go back, and there’s no way forward, so they’ve got to slip out through a side door.

They have enough money to go anywhere. So unless they’re pulled in pronto Paul Williams might soon be sunning himself on Calangute Beach in Goa, next to Sergei ‘Skullcrusher’ Ivanov, feared enforcer for the St Petersburg mob.

We’ve done enough weeping for Wales, let’s start doing something positive!

♦ end ♦