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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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Drop-in session plan for Fishguard and Goodwick surgeries

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A PUBLIC drop-in session is being held in Fishguard next week to gather the views of local residents around plans to amalgamate Goodwick Surgery with Fishguard Surgery towards the end of this year.

The event will be held on Tuesday 27 February at Fishguard Town Hall from 2.30pm-7pm.

Goodwick Surgery has been managed by Hywel Dda University Health Board since April 2015. The Practice has used regular GP locums to cover the Surgery for the past 18 months and despite extensive efforts the Health Board has not been successful in attracting new GPs. Goodwick is one of a number of smaller practices in North Pembrokeshire struggling with the challenges of GP recruitment in order to deliver sustainable services.

In recent months the Health Board has been in detailed discussions with nearby Fishguard Surgery as to how the two practices could collaborate to secure future services for patients in the area. The Health Board is working with local groups and the Community Health Council to communicate all changes to the patients.

Prior to the amalgamation, patients of both Practices should continue to access services as normal. There is no need to move registration – this will be done automatically at the time and more details will be shared with patients over the coming months.

Plans are at an advanced stage with Welsh Government for the extensive refurbishment of the existing Fishguard Health Centre later this year to enable delivery of high quality services to the increased practice population. Community staff, including the District Nurse team and Health Visitors, will be located in the refurbished building, allowing better integration and working with the GP Practice. Fishguard Surgery will remain open during the refurbishment works and disruption will be minimised to enable full services to be maintained for patients.

It is anticipated that the larger, more resilient Practice will be better able to recruit additional clinical staff, including GPs, to reduce the dependence on locums. Staff currently working at Goodwick Surgery will have the option to transfer to Fishguard Health Centre as part of the larger team.

Jill Paterson, Director of Primary Care at Hywel Dda, said: ““As a Health Board we are committed to listening to and engaging with local populations around our proposals to strengthen our Primary Care services in the Goodwick and Fishguard area and we would therefore like to invite residents to come along and get involved in the conversation.”

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Haverfordwest: Police want to catch Labour Club gate tamperers

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating criminal damage at Haverfordwest Labour Social Club. Police told The Herald that sometime between 11am and 1pm on Wednesday, 17 January 2017, two men super-glued the padlock to the gate, and fitted an extra chain and padlock. The staff had to cut the chains and padlock with an angle grinder to gain entry to the club.

A police spokesperson added: “One of the men is described as aged in his 60s, with short, grey hair and moustache, reddened face, and wearing a dark coloured coat.

“He has a distinctive mark on the side of his nose.

“The second man is described as being younger and wearing a dark coloured parka type jacket with the hood up, loose fitting blue jeans, light coloured shoes and carrying a blue backpack.

The police have asked that anyone with information is asked to report it to PC 424 Dan Morris at Haverfordwest Police Station by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembroke: Appeal after glass attack at the Old Cross Saws Inn

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THE POLICE are appealing for witnesses following an assault at The Old Cross Saws public house, Pembroke, on Saturday, 10 February.

It is alleged a man attacked a male with a broken glass, in the beer garden. As a result, the police said, the victim required stitches to his jaw.

A spokesperson from Dyfed-Powys Police told The Herald: “A 25-year-old man from the Pembroke Dock area was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm on February 10, he has since been released under investigation pending further police enquiries.”

“Anyone who witnessed the incident, or has any information, is urged to contact DC 920 Phil Jones at Pembroke Dock Police Station, by calling 101.

“Alternatively, anonymously contact Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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