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Struck-off solicitor’s eviction threat

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Stressful times: Sheila Hill, 82, runs the pub with her family

A LOCAL solicitor who was jailed for using money from dead client’s estate to fraudulently finance his property company is back on the scene, acting as an ‘agent’ to try and bully an elderly pub landlady into leaving her Milford Haven premises.

Sheila Hill, 82, who as invested her life savings into the renovation of The Sir Charles Whetham, said that she has been so stressed by the experience of dealing with Simon Griffiths, she has been rushed to hospital because of an uncontrollable nose bleed and has had to ask her daughter to get the police to get the bankrupt lawyer off her back.

Disgraced Griffiths was hauled before the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal in 2015 after concerns were raised about his practise, Eaves Solicitors, which was based on Milford Haven Marina.

He faced a number of allegations, including failing to fulfil and undertaking and misleading another firm of solicitors, which were found proved.

But now he is back working as an ‘agent’ and ‘legal advisor’ for owners of The Sir Charles Whetham, Jac Worley and Keith May. May has confirmed this to The Herald on the telephone.

In December 15, 2015, Sheila Hill, and daughter and son-in-law Jayne and Roy Driscoll, originally from Saundersfoot sold their family home with the intention of taking over and eventually purchasing the Murray Road pub.

A COMMUNITY PUB

Locals have testified to the fact that the property has improved from being a troubled establishment known for cheap booze and drugs, to a well run establishment with excellent food, and a proper family-friendly, family-run venue.

However the family’s dream has become a nightmare following the intervention of dodgy ex-solicitor Griffiths who according to Sheila’s daughter Jayne, used legal speak to trick the family to sign a ‘Tenancy at Will’, effectively giving them no security of tenure in the premises, allowing the owners to kick them out at the drop of a hat.

Jayne told The Herald: “Ever since day one, we have been trying to get a proper lease sorted with owners Keith and Jack. We have spent a lot of money on solicitor’s fees but so far, despite ten revisions of the proposed lease, it has all come to nothing. In my view the owners have purposely stalled on getting the lease signed and procrastinated over the sale of the property to us. We are now left in limbo, and the future of Pill’s community pub is at risk.”

She added: “On Tuesday night (Mar 14) I received a text message from Simon Griffiths. It said: “I refer to my telephone call at 9.12pm. Your tenancy at will has now come to an end and we need to speak to you to make arrangements for you to leave the Sir Charles Whetham.”

Jayne said: “My mum and I nearly passed out. It’s just one thing after another. But now I have found out that Simon Griffiths is a struck off solicitor and former convict, I have my doubts if the tenancy at will is legally enforceable.”

The Herald spoke to Keith May by telephone and asked about Simon Griffith’s role. He said to us: “Simon Griffiths was our solicitor before he got struck off, we have known him for a long time, and it was a bit of a shock to us all when he got closed down. We are all aware that he is no longer a solicitor, but he is helping us out with legal bits. As our legal advisor, at the present time he is focussed on trying to get the money owed to us by the current tenants of The Whetham.”

VAT CHARGED WRONGLY

But further investigation by The Herald has shown that invoices sent by Simon Griffiths to the family for rent are not lawful. On close inspection, invoices Griffiths sent did not contain ‘a unique invoice number that follows on from the last invoice’, which, according to HMRC, invalidates the invoices.

This newspaper has also been given sight of correspondence from HMRC which shows that, at least in June 2016, VAT on the rent for the pub was not chargeable, meaning that the family have been paying more than they owed – not less.

Despite the text from Griffiths asking the family to leave the pub comments from co-owner Keith May seem to be at odds with current events. He told The Herald: “Roy and Jayne are doing a fantastic job and it would be a shame to lose them. Roy is a professionally trained chef having worked before at Cheltenham race course that is why the food is so good.”

He cheerfully added: “I am happy for them to continue there as long as we can sort stuff out. The rent is only £250 a week including accommodation and they have their whole family living there.”

WE’LL DOUBLE CHECK TAX

Jac Worley told The Herald yesterday: “If there has been a genuine error with charging VAT on the rent then we are more than happy to knock that off the outstanding rent. Unfortunately, no rent has been paid since November and that is the key issue for me here.

“I was willing to sell the pub as long as a deposit was paid, but after a year of waiting we were yet to receive a deposit.”

On questioning why there were no invoice numbers on the rent bills Mr Worley added: “This was a genuine mistake which we will correct.”

“We will contact HMRC to clarify if we need to charge VAT on the rent or not.

Jac Worley denied he had been receiving legal advice from the struck off solicitor.

After speaking to The Herald, Mr Worley said that he did want the family to stay at the pub and the matter to be resolved amicably, potentially safeguarding an important community venue.

We put this story to Simon Griffiths but there was no response from him at the time of going to print.

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Buckingham palace announces Prince Philip’s funeral arrangements

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PRINCE PHILIP’S royal ceremonial funeral will take place April 17 at Windsor Castle — a slimmed-down service amid the COVID-19 pandemic that will be entirely closed to the public.

Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, took part in planning his funeral and its focus on family was in accordance with his wishes. The 99-year-old duke, who died Friday, also took part in designing the modified Land Rover that will carry his coffin.

“Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognize the duke’s life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth,” a palace spokesman said Saturday while speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Prince Harry, Philip’s grandson who stepped away from royal duties last year and now lives in California, will attend the service along with other members of the royal family. His wife, the Duchess of Sussex, who is pregnant, has been advised by her doctor not to attend.

Palace officials said the ceremony would be conducted strictly in line with the British government’s COVID-19 guidelines, which restrict the number of people attending funerals to 30. They declined to say whether the royal family would be required to wear masks.

The palace appealed to the public not to gather in Windsor, and for those who wished to pay their respects to Philips to stay at home instead.

“While there is sadness that the public will not be able to physically be part of events to commemorate the life of the duke, the royal family asks that anyone wishing to express their condolences do so in the safest way possible and not by visiting Windsor or any other royal palaces to pay their respects,″ the palace spokesman said. “The family’s wish is very much that people continue to follow the guidelines to keep themselves and others safe.”

The announcement comes after military teams across the U.K. and on ships at sea fired 41-gun salutes Saturday to mark the death of Philip, honouring the former naval officer and husband of Queen Elizabeth II whom they considered one of their own.

Batteries in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast — the capitals of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom — as well as other cities around the U.K. and the Mediterranean outpost of Gibraltar fired the volleys at one-minute intervals beginning at midday. Ships including the HMS Montrose, a frigate patrolling the Persian Gulf, offered their own salutes.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the Armed Forces as a whole,” Gen. Nick Carter, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “A life well-lived. His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty.”

Members of the Commonwealth, a group of 54 countries headed by the monarch, were also invited to honour Philip. The Australian Defence Force began its salute at 5 p.m. local time outside Parliament House in Canberra, and New Zealand planned to offer its own tribute on Sunday.

Philip joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1939 and once had a promising military career. In 1941, he was honoured for his service during the battle of Cape Mattapan off the coast of Greece, when his control of searchlights aboard the HMS Valiant allowed the battleship to pinpoint enemy vessels in the dark. Philip rose to the rank of commander before he retired from active duty.

Two years after the war ended, Philip married Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey when she was 21 and he was 26. Philip’s naval career came to an abrupt end when King George VI died in 1952 and his wife became queen.

At the queen’s coronation in 1953, Philip swore to be his wife’s “liege man of life and limb” and settled into a life supporting the monarch. The couple had four children — Charles, the heir to the throne, Anne, Andrew and Edward.

Before he retired from official duties in 2017, the prince carried out more than 22,000 solo public engagements and supported over 780 organizations, including the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for young people.

Members of the public continued to honour Philip’s life of service on Saturday, leaving flowers outside Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle despite appeals from authorities and the royal family to refrain from gathering.

“I think everyone would like to pay their respects,” Maureen Field, 67, said outside Windsor Castle. “Because of the virus, a lot of people have to stay away. He didn’t want a big funeral. He wanted a very private time with his family to say their goodbyes. So, we’ve all got to respect that.”

Mike Williams, 50, travelled from his home in Surrey, southwest of London, to Buckingham Palace to honour the prince.

“He’s a massive loss to the country and to the world, I think, so we wanted to come and pay respects,” Williams said. “I don’t know what it achieves, but it just felt like the right thing to do.”

(Associated Press, London – by James Brooks and Tom Rayner)

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Police: RNLI ‘most likely saved man’s life’ following tombstoning incident

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POLICE have issued an urgent warning following a tombstoning incident Tenby on Saturday evening (Apr 10).

A multi-agency operation was launched just after 6pm following reports of a man in difficulty after jumping from cliffs into the sea.

A spokesperson for Dyfed-Powys police told The Herald: “We were called to the beach opposite St Catherine’s Island at around 6.15pm today, where a man had got into difficulty after jumping off the cliff into the water.

“On the arrival of officers, RNLI were at the scene and were administering CPR to the 23-year-old who was unconscious and not breathing.

“Fortunately, he regained consciousness shortly after and was taken to hospital for assessment.

Inspector Gavin Howells added: “This incident highlights the serious danger posed by tombstoning or cliff jumping, and the potentially life-threatening consequences.

“We urge people not to take part in this sort of activity anywhere along our coastline, and not to put themselves or the emergency services at risk for a thrill.

“We would like to thank our colleagues at the RNLI for their swift response to this incident, and for their actions which most likely saved this man’s life.”

RNLI Tenby posted on Facebook the following: “The Georgina Taylor was launched after person seen in difficulty in water

“Tenby’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was launched at around 6.25pm on Saturday, following a report of somebody in difficulty in the sea off Castle Beach.

“The volunteer crew were quickly on scene and immediately saw the casualty, who had been pulled from the water and was on the rocks.

“The casualty was taken from the rocks and into the lifeboat, where Casualty Care was administered whilst the helmsman made best speed to the harbour.

“As the lifeboat was entering the harbour, an ambulance was arriving at the slipway.

“The crew then assisted the ambulance personnel in getting the casualty onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, before re-housing the lifeboat.

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Police and drugs advice service issue warning over ‘deadly batch’ of heroin

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POLICE have asked the media to issue a warning over a batch of heroin.

The drug circulating in west Wales, first detected in Llanelli, is particularly dangerous, it has been confirmed.

“We are warning drug users to take extra care following reports of a particularly harmful batch of heroin circulating in the Llanelli area” said a Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson.

“We have reasons to believe some drugs being distributed and used in the Carmarthenshire area at present have been contaminated with other substances and could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.

“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately if they become unwell.

“Please share this information with anyone you believe could come into contact with these drugs.

”In an emergency or if you think someone’s life is at risk always dial 999.”

Earlier this week Barod, the drug and alcohol abuse service reported a dangerous and toxic heroin circulating in Pembroke Dock which a spokesperson described as being ‘potentially deadly’.

To comes as Public Health England issued a formal alert about the risks of heroin containing fentanyl or carfentanyl.

The warning reads: “There is significant evidence from a small number of post-mortem results of recent drug user deaths and from police seizures that some heroin may contain fentanyl or carfentanyl added by dealers.

“These are highly potent synthetic opioids and very small amounts can cause severe or even fatal toxicity.

“Those of you in contact with heroin users should be alert to the increased possibility of overdose arising from heroin cut with these synthetic opioids, be able to recognise possible symptoms of overdose and respond appropriately.”

The fentanyls are a group of synthetic opioids; some have legitimate uses while others are illicit drugs.

Fentanyl is about 100 times more potent than morphine and is a licensed medicine used to treat severe and terminal pain. Carfentanyl is 4,000 – 10,000 times more potent than morphine and principally used as an animal tranquilliser.

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