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Editor Tom Sinclair’s appeal adjourned for a fifth time

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A SECOND judge stepped down from hearing the appeal of Herald editor Tom Sinclair at Swansea Crown Court today (Jan 12).

The 38 year old is appealing against a conviction for allowing a story to be published in the Ceredigion Herald in 2016 which could have led to the identification of the victim of a sexual offence – a failed attempt at voyeurism.

As the offending article from The Ceredigion Herald was read out in court, His Honour Peter Heywood QC realised that he had heard the failed appeal of the would-be voyeur and therefore had to recuse himself.

“A very unfortunate co-incidence… I would feel uncomfortable sitting on this case” he said.

Last year his colleague, His Honour Paul Thomas QC, also had to stop proceedings and call an adjournment because deputy editor Jon Coles – a likely witness in the case – is known to him personally.  They previously worked in the legal profession together when Judge Thomas was a barrister.

After a period of uncertainty, a third judge, His Honour Keith Thomas QC, was made available to hear the case.

The court heard how the victim of the sex crime had not been aware of the article in the newspaper – and was only made aware when contacted by a police officer. That officer had obtained copy of The Ceredigion Herald from The National Library of Wales after the sex offender’s solicitor complained to the police.

Judge Keith Thomas, sitting with two magistrates, rejected the first limb of the appeal when he ruled that the court report had contained so much detail that the victim could have been identified, even if only by family, friends and those who already knew something about her family.

Sinclair argued that he knew nothing about the report until he was made aware that police were investigating a complaint and wanted to interview him.

He said the Ceredigion Herald had been part of the Pembrokeshire, Llanelli and Carmarthen Herald group and as editor of all four titles all stories would be emailed to him before publication – but only as a way of searching out the important stories and deciding the layout of the first 20 pages. It would have been impossible for him to have read and edited 1000 articles per week himself, he claimed.

He said that a time sheet maintained by a security guard at the group’s main premises in Milford Haven showed he had left the building on June 23, 2016, at 11.26am – before the report had been emailed to him.

He then travelled to Heathrow airport for a flight to Oman to try to raise business investment.

Consequently, he had not had any editorial input in relation to the article.

But cross examined by Craig Jones for the CPS, responding to the appeal, he agreed he had not mentioned to the interviewing police officer anything about a trip to Oman on the day in question or about an unread email.

“Are you simply trying to wriggle out of your responsibility,” asked Mr Jones.

“Is the reality that you did see the article?

Sinclair said: “No, I didn’t see the article. I had my main man nurturing the court reporter and checking her articles. It was agreed that Jon Coles would check her articles but with me having the final say.”

Sinclair said that on previous occasions when he made a mistake he admitted it – such as when he printed an article naming the 17 year old captain who crashed his fishing boat.

He agreed he had told the police officer that in his opinion the article “sailed close to the wind, but by the skin of its teeth its ok.”

The court decided it needed to hear evidence from Mr Coles, who will connect to the court on January 22 by video link with Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court. The hearing was adjourned until then.

Sinclair said in court that negative publicity surrounding the case led to an impact on advertising sales, which was one of the reasons why he decided to close the print edition of The Ceredigion Herald to concentrate on online news in that region.

 

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Newgale: New £30m road proposed to combat coastal damage

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has revealed a preferred new route for a road around Newgale today (Sept 25) at an event in Roch.

The new stretch of road would begin at Pencym and end at a new roundabout near Roch.

A new route is needed due to fears about road closures during high tides and winds, as well as coastal damage caused by global warming.

Reports have suggested that the current Newgale road may not exist in 20 years times.

The new route could cost up to £30m – compared to £40m a proposed viaduct would cost – and would need funding from the Welsh Government.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Transport officials will continue to work closely with the authority as they progress with their studies and firm up their proposals for addressing the current problems with the A487.

“Welsh Government is open to consider an application for funding to move forward the development work.”

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MP calls on Welsh Government to explain broadband delays

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STEPHEN CRABB has called on the Welsh Government to come clean over broadband rollout delays.

Minister Julie James AM, whose responsibilities include digital infrastructure and inclusion, has been urged to explain the reasons for delays to the rollout of superfast broadband to rural properties across Wales.

Last year, the Superfast Cymru scheme saw BT receive £425m in return for connecting the vast majority of premises in Wales to next-generation broadband.

When the contract ended, 90,000 mainly rural properties still had not been connected. Further details of another scheme to complete the work were due to be announced in July, but at the start of August, Julie James AM suddenly announced that ‘unforeseen issues’ were causing delays which could not be further discussed because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

Stephen Crabb, MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, said: “It’s simply unacceptable for the Minister responsible to announce delays to the next stage of Broadband rollout but refuse to explain why. Access to reliable, fast broadband is of increasing importance to businesses, large and small, in Pembrokeshire and I have worked with many across the constituency to improve their broadband access.

“However, the digital divide continues to exist with rural communities in Pembrokeshire suffering again. It is an inescapable fact that delivery of broadband infrastructure is devolved to the Welsh Government and Julie James AM should now come forward and explain the reasons for these delays.”

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Air ambulance lands at ‘serious’ crash scene

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THE WALES AIR AMBULANCE has landed at the scene of a serious crash this morning (Sept 25) between the Sentry Cross and Honeyborough roundabouts on the A477.

Posts on Facebook from witnesses at the scene say a man is being treated by paramedics.

Police have said one car was involved in the incident.

In addition to the helicopter, Dyfed-Powys Police, the Welsh Ambulance Service and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service are at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place.

A police spokesperson said:  “Dyfed-Powys Police is at the scene of a serious RTC between the Sentry Cross and Honeyborough roundabouts, Pembrokeshire.

“The A477 stretch between those roundabouts is currently closed while emergency services deal with the incident. One car is involved; the driver has received serious injuries.

“No further information is available at this time.”

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