The tangled web

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This a complicated story, so I advise you to pay attention. I’ve written about Dawnus and Hydro Industries a few times in recent years, but now I want to go back, ten years and more, to the start of this story. I shall use information from a number of sources, primarily Rebecca Television, the greatly missed Cneifiwr blog, and another well-informed source.

DESIRABLE PROPERTY

We’ll begin in March 2006 when it became clear that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was winding down its Llangennech site in Llanelli and the prospect was causing some consternation in the locality.

The local Labour MP was Nia Griffith, and of course there was a Labour government in Westminster at the time. Griffith asked a question about Llangennech in the House of Commons. For the government, Don Touhig, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Veterans) Ministry of Defence, confirmed that the Llangennech site would close by mid-2008.

Soon after the closure, early in 2009, the ‘Independent’-Labour-run Carmarthenshire County Council purchased the site and immediately sold it on to a commercial entity. Which raised a number of questions, aired in this report from May of that year.

First, why couldn’t this commercial entity, R & A Properties, have bought the site from the MoD? Second, why wasn’t R & A Properties registered with Companies House? Third, who was behind R & A Properties?

The answer to the first question will be given later.

Question 3 was answered very quickly when we were told that one of those behind the scheme was David Francis Pickering, former captain of the national rugby team and then chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). Working with his “lifelong friend” Robert Nigel Lovering.

Not only that, but Pickering is a big supporter of the Labour Party. He got into some trouble in 2010 for using his position at the WRU “to organise a £1,000-a-plate pre-election fundraising event for Welsh Labour.”

So we have The Labour Party in control in Westminster, Cardiff Bay, the Shire Hall (coalition), and a staunch Labour supporter gets handed the deal of his life with the old MoD site in Llangennech. Such serendipity!

But back to the questions.

The second question was answered by David Pickering when he said, “I know some people will find it strange that R & A is not a limited company but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers.” So they paid someone to ‘advise’ them to enter into a multi-million pound deal using a non-existent company! Advice like that might explain Pickering’s business record, which we’ll look at in a minute.

Though in fairness, there does seem to have been a company, or rather, a Limited Liability Partnership, called R&A Properties, for it’s mentioned in the accounts of Hydro Industries Ltd for y/e 31/03/2016. (More on Hydro Industries anon.)

I’m at a loss to explain the reference to DFP Properties Ltd, a company whose records show it has never done any business whatsoever. Click to enlarge

There was even a rather forlorn and untended website.

The problem here is that R&A Properties LLP does not exist, or it has certainly never been registered with Companies House. So from what parallel dimension did this creature slip through the Llangennech portal to help Hydro Industries?

A company called R & A Properties Cardiff Limited was eventually Incorporated 5 March 2019, with Pickering, Lovering, and Wayne Preece (of Hydro Industries) as directors. Why it took so long to legitimise R & A is a mystery that might be answered later in this posting. Though why ‘Cardiff’ should be in the name, seeing as the correspondence address given for the company is the Stradey Business Park in Llangennech, remains a mystery.

The deal in 2009 was justified because Pickering and his mates had a ‘blue chip’ company lined up to provide dozens or hundreds of top-notch jobs. The number given seemed to depend on who you spoke to and which way the wind was blowing.

Later in 2009 we learnt that Thales UK, part of the French defence giant, would be adapting the Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier built by a Singapore company and re-branding them ‘Warthogs’ for deployment with the British Army in Afghanistan.

Which made sense, for in December 2008, the UK government had agreed to buy over 100 Broncos from Singapore Technologies Kinetics.

The Bronco. Click to enlarge

As you’ve read, the 37-acre site was bought from the MoD by Carmarthenshire County Council and soon sold to the mysterious R & A Properties LLP.

The Land Registry turns up nothing for Stradey Business Park or Stradey Park Business Centre. You have to use the LR map, which produces two separate titles. The first, CYM462190, for ‘Land on the north side of Mwrwg Road, Llangennech’. The second, CYM458189, ‘Land on the south side of Mwrwg Road, Llangennech’.

There is a third title, mentioned on both of these documents, it’s CYM444641, but it seems to be unavailable at the Land Registry website.

Consulting Google Maps tells us that Heol Mwrwg bisects the site. Or check it out on the image below.

Click to enlarge

What we learn from these documents is that Robert Nigel Lovering owns both titles . . . or rather, they were bought with loans from Lloyds Bank Plc and The Secretary of State for Defence, with Carmarthenshire County Council chipping in later.

Moving on . . . early in 2009 the MoD sold the Llangennech site to Mark James, aka Carmarthenshire County Council, and he quickly sold it on to his mates, Dai Pickering and Robert Lovering.

And that answers the first question we left hanging earlier – why couldn’t R & A Properties have bought the site directly from the MoD? Answer: R & A couldn’t buy directly from the MoD because Lovering was getting a loan from the MoD to make the purchase. So it had to go through Carmarthenshire County Council.

For a very similar reason, the loan from the council in December 2012, was made not for the purchase of the site but to improve it.

You’ll have noticed that only Lovering’s name appears on the title documents. So why is that?

One answer might be Pickering’s financial status. For according to Paddy French at Rebecca Television Pickering had outstanding debts, both against companies he was involved with and also against him personally.

We read of one such debt: “In July 2009 Lloyds TSB obtained judgment against him for an unpaid bill of £10,232. The bank has taken him to court – and secured the debt against his Cardiff home.” 

Rebecca Television estimates HMRC lost around £4 million in unpaid National Insurance, VAT and other taxes from the collapse of assorted Pickering companies.

Cneifiwr used the Rebecca Television article in an interesting update, Warthogs and a man with a van, in April 2014. It’s worth a read.

If we look at the companies David Pickering has been involved with, most are dissolved. The only ones still standing fall into three categories: 1/ Companies he left, 2/ Companies associated with the WRU, 3/ Companies Pickering has joined or formed in recent years. We’ll look at this final category in a minute.

It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Pickering is a failed businessman whose public profile and many contacts can still get his size 12s under boardroom tables.

COOL, CLEAR WATER

One hypothesis to explain this remarkable deal in Llangennech must be . . .

The MoD had agreed the Warthog deal with Thales in 2008, but was reluctant to invite Thales to do the work at Llangennech themselves because politicians and media might view that as too close a relationship between the British Ministry of Defence and what was after all a French company.

With the added advantage of Llangennech being well off the beaten track for the London redtops.

So I make no apologies for again using this scene from the Godfather, in which Willie Cicci gives evidence to a Congressional hearing. For just like the Corleone family the MoD needed ‘buffers’ between them and Thales.

It’s difficult to explain the convoluted sale in any other way.

Let’s focus now on Wayne Preece, who doesn’t seem to have been a director of any company before 2011 (unless it was R&A Properties LLP), when he joined an obscure Swansea outfit called Brightley Ltd. Where he was in partnership with Mark Batty, another with a glittering business career.

One of the companies with which Batty was involved – one of the few still afloat – is the Langland Bay Golf Club Ltd. One of Swansea’s better golf clubs in an up-market suburb. In fact, this part of the city figures more than once in this narrative.

For not only does Lovering live in Langland Bay, but Preece is also a resident. And among the previous directors of the Langland Bay Golf Club I see Huw Wyn Price. Price and his wife were the founding directors of Lancehawk Ltd in 1986. Lovering joined on 1 July 1999 and seems to have taken over, to the extent that he is now the only director.

I assume the company is doing well because I see 12 satisfied charges over the years, some with lenders I’ve never heard of. The accounts, unaudited and abridged, show Total Net Assets of £872,709.

‘Lancehawk’ has a certain martial ring to it. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if it has done work for the Ministry of Defence. The address given for Lancehawk used to be Lovering’s Langland Bay home, but now it’s relocated to – where else? – the Stradey Business Park.

Maybe someone else thought Lancehawk sounded a bit too ‘Up yours!’ which might explain the company trading as the rather blander European Telecom Solutions (ETS).

Though the ETS website doesn’t seem to be maintained very well. For example, the latest ‘News’ is for September 2018. Has nothing happened in the last year and a half? Why is there no mention of Covid-19 such as I find on every other website I visit these days? Don’t tell me ETS is another ‘buffer’!

Another Lovering company to add to the line-up is R & A Secure Services Ltd, formed 6 September 2012. That ‘R & A’ again. But it can’t be the ethereal company we seek because Lovering is the sole director. Its correspondence address was in central Swansea, but last September it moved. You have one guess!

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Preece, as I’ve said, seems to have been involved in no company before 2011, with the exception of the rather odd Brightley, but then in 2012 and 2013 Preece joined a number of companies under the ‘Hydro’ banner, all based on the Stradey Business Park. In chronological order they were:

  • Hydro Industries Marine Ltd Formed 29 November 2012 with Preece, Lovering and Philip Graeme Morgan as directors. The company seemed to do nothing and was dissolved via compulsory strike-off 14 July 2014.
  • Hydro Industries Ltd Formed 2 September 2010 by Janine Morgan, who I assume is the wife of Philip Morgan, who joined her 1 April 2011. Next came Christopher Lewis 27 June 2011, and then Pickering, Preece and Lovering 2 January 2013. More recently we have seen a number of luminaries climb aboard. One of those new arrivals is Robert Brooks, who I’m told lives or lived just around the headland from Langland Bay in Caswell Bay. The Morgans left 6 August 2014.
  • Hydro Strata Ltd (formerly Hydro Mining Ltd). Formed 11 March 2013 with Preece and Morgan as directors. Never more than a dormant company and it was dissolved via voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Utilities Ltd Formed 4 April 2013 with Morgan and Preece as directors. Morgan left 5 August 2014 and the company drifted towards voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Environmental Systems Ltd Wayne Preece was in on the ground floor with Morgan 3 May 2013. Morgan left 5 August 2014 and Pickering joined 19 June 2019. Accounts and confirmation statement are overdue.
  • Hydro Marine & Salvage Ltd Preece and Morgan were there at the kick-off 7 October 2013 but Morgan left 5 August 2014. Dissolved by voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.
  • Hydro Oil & Gas Ltd Preece and Morgan from the start 7 October 2013, Morgan left 5 August 2014 and Preece called it a day with voluntary strike-off 25 April 2017.

What I find strange here is that the late Philip Morgan (he died suddenly in the early part of 2018) was an expert in his field, academically recognised. Morgan’s departure from the Hydro companies in August 2014 can be explained by him setting up KP2M Ltd in April 2014, which trades as Power & Water from its Llansamlet base.

Yet what knowledge of water did Preece bring to the party, with his background in Sony televisions and Thales?

And yet despite Preece’s apparent lack of knowledge of H2O Hydro Industries thrives. For as we read recently, the company has been awarded two lucrative contracts in the Middle East. One is in Saudi Arabia, and then there’s a £150m gig in Egypt.

Things are certainly looking up at Hydro Industries. Just compare the balance sheets below, covering a 4-year period. What you see represents quite a turnaround in just a few years. Did they find a Fairy Godmother?

Click to enlarge

For remember, this impressive improvement preceded the Middle East contracts!

Here, in pdf format is the latest distribution of shares, dated 2 September 2019. Note that although Robert Lovering ceased to be a director 1 July 2019 he retains his share holding.

Let’s now go back to the time before Preece joined Morgan at the Hydro companies.

THALES COME, THALES GO

After losing his managerial job with Sony in Bridgend – the plant finally closed in early March 2006 – Preece found himself doing fixed-term contracts for Thales UK. This gave him a foot in the door.

And tells me that by late 2008 Preece knew about the deal Thales had struck with the MoD to convert the 100+ Singapore-built Broncos into Warthogs. He now used whatever influence he had to get Thales to bring the work to Wales.

But he needed help.

If they didn’t already know each other then this is when the troika formed. Preece had the contacts with Thales (possibly also the MoD); I believe Lovering certainly had the MoD contacts (which is why the site was ‘sold’ to him); and then there was Dai Pickering, with his Labour Party contacts, and his rugby anecdotes guaranteeing him the best biscuits in Mark James’ private suite.

This explains why, in defence of the deal, the council said the sale had been agreed with persons “known to some officers”. For Mark James, then the county CEO, is a big rugby fan, and has used council money and sweetheart deals to benefit the local Scarlets.

And the generosity was reciprocated. For as Cneifiwr reports: “Shortly after the council approved the purchase and simultaneous resale of the site in February 2009, the chief executive of Carmarthenshire County Council accepted an invitation from David Pickering to a rugby international.” 

The Ministry of Defence was quite happy to sell the Llangennech site to the county council on the understanding that the council immediately sold it on to Preece, Lovering and Pickering. This may be the reason that the partnership back in 2009 had to be kept under wraps.

Despite all the hype, the brass bands and the kids waving flags to welcome Thales, the French outfit didn’t stay very long. So, why did Thales pull out? Well, here’s what I’ve been told . . .

Thales signed the lease agreement with Lovering, or Lovering and Pickering, or all three, before the site had actually been bought. Which of course made the agreement invalid. Possibly illegal.

This cock-up was perhaps attributable to the fact that the agreement had not been concluded by Thales’ Properties Department, as would have been normal, but by another arm under some Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) measure.

Image from Google Maps taken in August 2011, with time running out. Click to enlarge

In an attempt to cover up le désastre I’m told that the final page of the lease agreement, with signatures and dates, ‘went missing’. When it ‘reappeared’ the time lords had worked their magic – for now it showed that the site had been purchased before the lease agreement was concluded between the mysterious R & A Properties and Thales.

Phew!

But this was only a short-term measure. Once Thales held one of its regular checks on lease agreements, which would examine all documentation, the feline would be free of the encumbering sack.

And so Thales pulled out and took the work elsewhere. Search for ‘Llangennech’ or ‘Llanelli’ on the Thales website and nothing comes up. It’s as if this chapter never happened.

Which was a great pity. For while it lasted Thales provided good jobs and the workforce repaid the company by making big profits on each vehicle. A million pounds per vehicle has been quoted to me.

But Thales upped sticks and took the work away to less favourable locations, with inferior facilities, and more expensive premises. A ‘lean-to’ in Glasgow that could barely accommodate the vehicles was mentioned, as was a much more expensive venue in Sussex that lacked a decent crane.

So everyone lost out  . . . except perhaps those who had screwed up.

ON TAWE BANKS

The incentive for the three amigos to legitimise themselves with R & A Properties Cardiff Ltd in March last year may have come from the publicity being generated by the collapse of Dawnus.

Because I am convinced that the British government stepped in when it became obvious that Dawnus was on the ropes and going down for the count.

I say that because a) Dawnus was operating in Sierra Leone and other ‘sensitive’ areas of West Africa where China is extending its influence; b) because expensive plant and machinery was shipped out to West Africa – out of reach of liquidators and creditors – before the collapse; c) because administrators reports have been delayed for another year; and d) because the two phoenix that rose from the Dawnus flames, DIG International Group Ltd and DIG Civil Engineering Ltd, moved in March from the old Dawnus depot in Clydach to . . . go on, have a guess!

In addition to the main depot and yard at the old Players Tinplate works site in Clydach, Dawnus also had a presence in the Ashmount Business Park in Llansamlet. Very close to where Hydro Industries began life in 2010 as Watertec Solutions Ltd. And where today we find Power & Water.

Are these coincidences?

Click to enlarge

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I just know enough about how the world works to know that the UK government, or the MoD, or certain other agencies, don’t open offices abroad and put up a brass plate reading ‘Spies ‘R’ Us’. It’s done subtly, often using phoney companies as fronts.

Or recruiting genuine companies already operating in an area of interest. There might be an approach along the lines of, ‘As you’re out there, old boy, we were wondering . . . ‘. Nothing 007 about it, just keep your eyes and ears open and we’ll have the occasional chat.

Or it might just be supporting British companies in Africa and elsewhere in order to counter the influence of rivals. Today, in Africa, that means China.

This table was produced by McKinsey & Company for a June 2017 report. Chinese investment, and influence, has increased since then, both in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Click to enlarge

Those who’ve seen the wonderful film, Our Man in Havana, will recall that Alec Guinness’s character, James Wormold, is a vacuum cleaner retailer recruited by MI6. It may have been a piss-take by writer Graham Greene, but he knew what he was writing about, he’d been recruited by MI6 himself. And posted to – of all places! – Sierra Leone.

The different trajectories of the Dawnus group and Hydro Industries, and the Thales debacle, all link through a number of factors.

First, we have various arms of the UK government treating Wales as a colony, and interfering in our political and economic life. Then there’s the lack of openness and accountability at local government level. The ‘pliability’ of those elected to Corruption Bay. The cupidity of certain BritNat businessmen. And finally, good old-fashioned Labour Party cronyism.

And I haven’t even mentioned the drones, but that can wait.

Do you still want to know what’s wrong with Wales?

♦ end ♦

P.S. The British military has always directed operations at Llangennech and that is still the case. Which is why I should have mentioned Rick Libbey, a 30-year-service man who is Chief Operating Officer for Hydro Industries.

It’s pretty clear who really calls the shots at Hydro.




Dawnus 3

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

This was intended to be a sort of bits and pieces post in which I looked at various topics. Among them the sale of Coleg Harlech and an update on the (ex-)student councillors that used to plague Swansea council, a sort of ‘Where are they now?’

For your information, and titillation, one former Labour councillor ended up working for Tory Home Secretary Javid; another went home to California before returning to promote herself as a ‘political consultant’; a third works as a ‘Director of Sponsor Relations’ for a US company; a fourth worked for that same company before becoming a ‘globetrotter’; while a fifth – the only Tory – got banged up for child pornography.

But all that can wait because cogs have been turning in the old Jac noggin as I tried to make sense of who’s who and what’s what on either side of that great turbulence that cleaves Jack from Turk.

Not a great deal of new information has come to light but I have been pointed in certain directions and the bigger picture is now less opaque as connections are made and things fall into place.

Though I beg you to be patient, because this is one of the most complicated investigations I’ve ever done.

DAWNUS

There are a few things to add on Dawnus itself, and the myriad companies that sheltered ‘neath that umbrella. To help you get up to speed I advise you to read Dawnus and Dawnus 2.

The asset stripping and dismemberment of Dawnus may or may not have begun with the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone 2014/15 but it certainly ties in with the arrival of Nicholas Charles Down, who now seems to run what’s left of Dawnus.

Though having said that, two new companies have emerged from the ashes. The first, on 22 March, was Dawnus International Group Ltd, which has already changed its name to DIG International Group Ltd. This new entity contains as directors a number of names that have appeared before in connection with the Dawnus group.

Then on 28 March the world saw the birth of Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, based in sunny Porthcawl and with Andrew Kenneth Keay as sole director. Keay has used the Dawnus name previously for his one-man-band companies, though where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery.

Another unplaced piece of the puzzle is Legsun Ltd, a company that is heavily in debt and whose directors are, since 14 February 2014, Timothy Alun Lowe, who has served as director with many Dawnus companies and also, since 12 March 2018, Dawnus head honcho Nicholas Charles Down.

click to enlarge

The early documents for Legsun are not available with Companies House without payment but we know that the company was started in March 1973, and though it now uses a Cardiff address it was previously using an address in the Pontypool area. I am in no doubt that Legsun is linked with the former Royal Ordnance Factory at Glascoed. Today this site is known as BAE Systems Munitions Glascoed.

Legsun is not a commercial company in the sense that you or I understand that term, because no genuine company could sustain losses on the scale of Legsun’s without going bust. How Legsun links with the collapse of Dawnus I’m not entirely sure. But it does, if only because Legsun’s only directors are also directors of Dawnus companies, and previous Legsun directors also had Dawnus links.

Legsun introduces the first connection with the military-industrial complex.

Late news: the following companies are now officially in receivership: Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd; Churchfield Homes Ltd; Legsun Ltd; Quantum Geotechnical Ltd; Dawnus Group Ltd; Dawnus Southern Ltd; Dawnus Ltd; Dawnus Developments Ltd; Ashridge Construction Ltd.

There are charges outstanding against all these companies with the sole exception of Legsun which, despite having massive debts, was somehow able to satisfy three charges on March 14.

At the time of writing the administration documents aren’t available with Companies House. There’s also the possibility that other companies in the Dawnus stable may yet follow those listed above into receivership.

By my calculations the companies left standing are: Dawnus Commercial Management Ltd and Dawnus Commercial Consulting Ltd, the Keay companies. Then there’s Dawnus Consulting Ltd, with a Manchester address; Dawnus International Ltd; Dawnus Sierra Leone Ltd; DIG International Group Ltd; Dawnus Holdings Ltd; Construction Recyclate Management Ltd.

CROSSING OVER AND TOOLING UP

Another connection with the military-industrial complex – and one I neglected to mention in the two previous pieces – is Thales, the French ordnance manufacturer. Thales has a presence at Stradey Park (Business Centre), Llangennech, owned now by Robert Nigel Lovering.

To understand the background I refer you again to a 2014 Rebecca article by Paddy French.

What Paddy French told us was that the redundant Ministry of Defence site at Llangennech was bought in early 2009 by Carmarthenshire County Council (Prop. M. V. James) and immediately sold on to R & A Properties, an unregistered company.

According to this WalesOnline report from early May 2009 the manner of the deal was justified by ‘the council’ (the aforementioned M .V. James) because the MoD would otherwise have auctioned the site.

The title document for Stradey Park is interesting. Lovering is named as the owner but the money to buy the site seems to have come from three funders: Lloyds Bank plc, the Secretary of State for Defence, and Carmarthenshire County Council.

The title is dated 1 April 2009. It also refers to land detached in 2015 from the title and directs us to the title plan for Stradey Park . . . which is not available on the Land Registry website.

The ‘sale’ was handled by Hugh James Solicitors of Cardiff, official solicitors for the ‘Welsh Government’.

There appear to be further loans, including one from Thales UK Limited.

There are also leases; one is for ten years from 1 April 2009 and covered by title number CYM465605, which again, is unavailable with the Land Registry, perhaps because that lease has now expired. Another, for 25 years from 27.03.2012, is with SSE Micro Renewables (Commercial) Ltd for the lease of air space.

But none of this can be checked because everything is in the name of the individual Robert Nigel Lovering. Who must be well thought of in certain quarters.

There was understandable disquiet over the deal. One councillor was quoted, “No information was given about the firm that will be creating the jobs beyond the fact that it was involved in defence procurement. Neither were we told who was behind R & A Properties, except that they were known to some of the officers.”

Just over a week later WalesOnline reported the involvement of then Welsh Rugby Union chairman David Pickering. Pickering was promising the creation of 100 jobs before Christmas by a “blue chip” company understood to be involved in the “defence procurement industry”.

Pickering was also reported as saying, “I know some people will find it strange that R&A is not a limited committee (sic), but we’ve been advised to do it this way by our professional advisers”.

It may not have been a limited company but the section below from the year ended 31 March 2016 accounts makes reference to R&A Properties LLP (Limited Liability Partnership); but I can find no such company registered with Companies House. Was it not registered, or registered in some other jurisdiction?

click to enlarge

One company I did unearth was R & A Secure Services Ltd, described on the Companies House website as a ‘non-trading company’ with Lovering as sole director. This was launched in September 2012, so chronologically it fits, but how?

The capture below is from the Company Check website. Jacobs can be disregarded, he’s a Company Formation Agent, but who or what is Francis Trust? And where’s Pickering?

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One company that Lovering has been involved with for some time is Lancehawk Ltd, of which he became a director in July 1999. And as this report from an Industrial Tribunal tells us, he was in fact managing director.

The report, about a bit of rumpy pumpy (was he shagging two of his staff!), also tells us that Lancehawk was trading as European Telecom Solutions. So I don’t understand why Lancehawk is still in business and a new company called European Telecom Solutions Ltd was formed 15 November 2017.

By November 2009 the BBC was telling us that Thales UK was to equip or modify Warthog all-terrain armoured vehicles at Llangennech for use in Afghanistan. This is the “blue chip” company we were told about, the justification presumably for the curious purchase arrangements.

So it looks as if Lovering (plus Pickering and Preece?) bought the site specifically to accommodate Thales? (Whatever the answer, R & A Properties now seems to have finally done the decent thing and gone legit, forming R and A Properties Cardiff Ltd last month. Why ‘Cardiff’?)

Some would have us believe that Thales has moved out of Stradey Park, but I can find no report of such a departure, certainly not in the Welsh media. Though I did turn this up in the Herald. It suggests that Thales closed its Llangennech operation – or part of it – in late 2012 or early 2013.

Which might link with reports in February 2012 that Cassidian was moving to Llangennech. Cassidian merged with Airbus Military and Astrium in January 2014 to form Airbus Defence and Space, now a division of Airbus.

This would give us a third connection with the military-industrial complex. Though I can find no evidence of the Cassidian move ever materialising.

Though from a distance there is little documentary or other evidence of either Thales or Airbus having been in Llangennech. Come to that, the whole site might as well be a secret, what with it being owned by an unregistered company, or an individual, there being no website, and Google turning up no recent references to either company being at Llangennech.

Though Google Earth came up trumps with what might be a recent shot, suggesting that Thales is still in situ.

Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

Correction: The Google Earth image I’ve used there is from 2011. I am informed that Thales has long since slung its hook. Why was it not reported in the Welsh media?

UPDATE 23:25: The British Army withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014, which would clearly have reduced the demand for the Warthog All-Terrain vehicles assembled by Thales at Llangennech, and this might explain the closure.

It also suggests that despite all the bullshit and backslapping that attended Thales’ arrival in Llangennech it must have been known that the French visitor was never going to stay and put down roots.

However, this forum posting I stumbled upon suggests that other uses were found for Warthogs: “Jane’s military guide has reported that British Warthog vehicles will be transformed to serve as transporter vehicles for Thales Watchkeeper UAV”. ‘UAV’ being unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. Which would make perfect sense.

Watchkeeper drones fly out of the base at Aberporth and they are none too reliable, five having crashed in recent years, one of them uncomfortably close to a school.

I’m convinced that drones out of Aberporth, or possibly Llanbedr, use darkness and cloud cover to fly up the Dysynni Valley along part of the ‘Mach Loop’. The constant noise can last half an hour or more. And recently I’ve had reports of the same issue around Cydweli, Glanyfferi and out over the sea.

Which means that Thales’ presence is still here, with Watchkeeper drones being transported on Warthog vehicles assembled at Llangennech. Overflying our country . . . and often crashing!

HYDRO INDUSTRIES LTD

On 2 January 2013 Lovering and Preece became directors of Hydro Industries Ltd (originally Watertec Solutions Ltd and then Aggrelek Ltd), with Pickering joining them in November.

Watertec was Incorporated 2 September 2010 on the east side of Swansea, at the Ashmount Business Park . . . within spitting distance of Dawnus Construction Holdings Ltd (at the time known as Dawnus Construction Ltd).

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Is this propinquity a coincidence? I think not.

The address for Aggrelek Ltd changed to Stradey Park 13 July 2011, and it became Hydro Industries in December of that year. Hydro Industries becomes another Legsun, in that it seems to operate in a parallel financial universe, being heavily in debt but still able to satisfy charges and generally carrying on as if nothing is amiss.

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The founders of Hydro Industries, Philip and Janine Morgan of Gorseinon, presumably had some knowledge of the water industry, to judge by other companies with which they’ve been involved, and certain directors of these companies, such as Chris Stretton.

But I don’t know what knowledge of desalination processes, or water purification and disposal in the third world is possessed by Lovering, Pickering and Preece. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

For almost immediately Lovering, Preece and Pickering had their feet under the Hydro Industries boardroom table things started happening for them on a transatlantic level with First Minister Carwyn Jones jetting across the Pond to put in a word.

As this ITV report from February 2013 tells us. Here’s how the BBC covered it. This, remember, is just one month after the trio became directors. Carwyn Jones was over again in February 2014.

Now clearly, if Lovering, Preece and Pickering didn’t join Hydro Industries until January 2013 then they didn’t have time to have arranged the contract with T&T Salvage that was announced by Carwyn Jones in February. In fact, Carwyn Jones seems to have taken Hydro Industries Ltd under his wing. How many other small companies received such treatment?

Another interesting – and more recent – reference to Hydro Industries I turned up is this one from March 2018 which sees Hydro Industries at No 3 in a list of “The 7 firms at the heart of Wales’ thriving tech and digital sector”.

Courtesy of WalesOnline, click to enlarge

You’ll see that at No 6 in the list is Airbus. Airbus is also mentioned along with Hydro Industries in the blurb for Carwyn Jones’s 2014 visit to the States. And I’ve seen the connection made elsewhere.

As with Thales locating to Llangennech the T&T contract was arranged by someone else, and Lovering and Preece were put into Hydro Industries to front the deal because they were ‘trusted’ . . . by someone. ‘Someone’ who could also pull Carwyn Jones’s strings.

SWEET CHARITY?

Though as I told you in the previous post, the three amigos have now been joined (displaced?) by some very glitzy company on the board and among the shareholders of Hydro Industries.

Almost immediately Pickering had joined Lovering and Preece on the Hydro board we saw investment from Diane Briere de L’Isle, David Stevens and Heather Stevens.

As I explained in an earlier piece, Diane Marguerite Marie Briere de L’Isle is the French wife of Henry Englehardt the American founder of Admiral Insurance. So who are David and Heather Stevens?

They, it turns out, are behind the Waterloo Foundation, a name that some may think unfortunate or insensitive given the involvement of Mme. Englehardt. The Waterloo Foundation was begun in 2007 with a donation of Admiral Group plc shares to the (then) value of £99m.

click to enlarge

And it all makes sense, for “clean water” is listed among the charity’s ambitions under ‘World Development‘. Which is why I was surprised not to find Hydro Industries listed under ‘Investments‘ and ‘Wales’ because the Foundation has definitely invested in Hydro.

And after the investment came a series of convoluted share reclassifications and allocations. Diane Marguerite Marie Briere De L’isle is named on the Companies House website as the person ‘with significant control’ from 21 August 2017. Preece, Lovering and Pickering cease to have significant control on the same day.

It’s not inconceivable, given Hydro’s links with Thales, that Mme. Englehardt joined Hydro in order to represent France’s interests.

Certainly Mme. Englehardt became a director of Hydro and appointed others to eventually outnumber the three musketeers. Among these newcomers was Guto Harri, Welsh language journalist and former PR guru for Boris Johnson.

The boys are still there, but maybe just for window dressing.

Predictably, perhaps, the Waterloo Foundation is a Patron of The Prince’s Trust. And why not, for The Prince’s Trust is based at Stradey Park. And wouldn’t you know it, the Chief Operating Officer for Hydro is Brigadier Rick Libbey . . . who used to run the The Prince’s Trust in Wales!

The links with the British establishment just keep coming, and of course Libbey provides another to the military-industrial complex, such as we find throughout this saga.

Which is easily explained. Major powers exert influence through ‘soft power’, which can mean aid to third world countries that just happen to have valuable natural resources or are of strategic importance.

What could be more caring and philanthropic than providing clean drinking water?

SUMMARY 

Up until the autumn of 2018 everything seemed to be hunky-dory with Dawnus, Hydro Industries, Swansea University, Thales, Legsun, etc, and there were exciting plans in the pipeline.

Here we are, six months later, and it’s all fallen apart. Perhaps some of those involved were strung along, and once they’d outlived their usefulness they became dispensable.

So what are we left with? Well, there’s Hydro, which I believe to be a ‘front’ company for some agency of the UK state; and then there’s the remains of Dawnus, run by someone who is almost certainly co-operating with the same shadowy elements.

If I’m right, then hundreds of Welsh workers, sub-contractors and suppliers were shafted by the UK Government, which either engineered the collapse of Dawnus or else accepted it as collateral damage. But we’re Welsh, we’re used to being shafted and exploited.

What is unforgivable is that this damage was inflicted on Wales with the support of the self-styled ‘Welsh Government’ and, especially, that of Carwyn Jones.

♦ end ♦