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Pembroke Castle: Police investigating novichok hoax which wasted thousands

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has told The Pembrokeshire Herald that the operation at Pembroke Castle on Friday and Saturday (Jul 14-15) is being considered a hoax and investigations are now underway to trace those responsible.

Police have confirmed that a bottle at Pembroke Castle was discovered with the word ‘novichok’ written on it, which prompted a 36-hour lockdown of the area. A multi-agency response included specialist teams from Llanelli.

Novichok is a Russian nerve agent which has recently been used in Salisbury, England, and has so far killed one person.

Due to the lethal nature of the nerve agent, the emergency services took all necessary precautions following the discovery and locked down the public footpath around the castle, as well as closing Pembroke Castle itself.

Fire officers from Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock erect a decontamination tent (Pic: Herald)

Temporary Chief Inspector Mike Melly told the Herald that he was ‘unable to comment on exactly what the substance was at present, however we can confirm it was a liquid which was not suspicious or dangerous’.

He added: “The item being investigated was a bottle, which had the word novichok written on it. Due to recent events in Wiltshire, and the fact the substance within the bottle was unknown, a multi-agency response was quickly activated.”

The amount spent on the operation has not been made public, however given the number of resources involved from multiple agencies, a conservative estimation would be in the thousands.

Emergency services at Pembroke Castle (Pic: Herald)

Police have also cited the disruption caused to the general public, as well as Pembroke Castle as a business, as two reasons to take the hoax ‘very seriously’.

Officers are reviewing CCTV from the area to try and trace the person or persons responsible.

“The incident is being treated as a hoax, which caused huge disruption to the community and expense to Pembroke Castle, and is being taken very seriously. The investigation is ongoing, with all lines of enquiry being followed, including reviews of CCTV footage,” Temporary Chief Inspector Mike Melly added.

Jon Williams from Pembroke Castle told the Herald: “We are glad to be re-opened.

“The police were excellent in their approach and how they dealt with the incident.

“Although we were closed for one and a half days, with some loss in takings, we always put the safety of our staff and visitors as our top priority.

“It does look like it was a hoax and we are helping police with their enquiries about how it got there.

“Hopefully they will get some success in catching the person who planted it.”

Read more on this in Friday’s edition of the Herald.

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Dale Road: Several have minor injuries after two vehicle accident

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EMERGENCY SERVICES are attending a two-vehicle road traffic accident on the B4327 Dale Road.

Two fire crews from Haverfordwest as well as police were called at around 3pm today (Aug 16).

A van and a car are involved.

Avoid the area at the present time

The Herald understands that several people are being treated for minor injuries.

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Tenby: Hotel goes into administration as new owner’s business empire collapses

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A POPULAR Pembrokeshire hotel has gone into administration.

The Fourcroft Hotel in Tenby how faces an uncertain future. It’s parent company Northern Powerhouse Developments reportedly suffered a £14m operational loss last year.

The 40-bedroomed hotel, which had been in the ownership of the same family for over 70 years, was bought by Northern Powerhouse Developments for an undisclosed sum in January 2017.

New boss Gavin Woodhouse said at the time: “This is the first of four hotels we are acquiring and opening in South Wales to complement our existing hotels up and down the coastline of the United Kingdom.”

“The Fourcroft will be the sister hotel to the Llandudno Bay Hotel and Spa and part of the group’s premier hotel collection.

“We are keen to compliment the local businesses and hope to be part of the future success of Tenby and the surrounding areas.”

NPD was founded by Gavin Woodhouse to focus on investment in the leisure and tourism industry.

According to ITV News, at the High Court hearing, Justice Alastair Norris was told that Woodhouse had been withdrawing tens of thousands of pounds from a bank account he had kept secret from administrators.

Below: Video by The Guardian regarding the missing millions which have plagued Gavin Woodhouse’s businesses

Appointment of Administrators

In the High Court of Justice

Court Number: CR-2019-005297

FOURCROFT HOTEL (TENBY) LIMITED

(Company Number 00772050)

Nature of Business: Hotels and similar accommodation

Registered office: Unit D2 Elland Riorges Link, Lowfields Business Park, Elland, HX5 9DG

Principal trading address: The Croft, Tenby, SA70 8AP

Date of Appointment: 8 August 2019

Names and Address of Administrators: Philip Francis Duffy (IP No. 9253) and Sarah Helen Bell (IP No. 9406) both of Duff & Phelps Ltd, The Chancery, 58 Spring Gardens, Manchester, M2 1EW

Further details contact: The Joint Administrators, Tel: 0161 827 9000. Alternative contact: Chloe Chan, Email: Chloe.Chan@duffandphelps.com

Ag JG50885

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Coastguard call-out after missing cliff climbers fears

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EMERGENCY services were called to the Stack Rocks area on Thursday August 15, following concerns for the safety of two climbers.

The emergency services were called following fears over the safety of some climbers when climbing gear had been found at the top of the cliff near Bullslaughter Bay, with the owners nowhere to be seen.

At 9.11pm, Tenby Coastguard rescue team, St Govan coastguard rescue team, Tenby Lifeboats RNLI ALB, Angle Lifeboat RNLI ALB and Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 were called to search for possible missing persons in the vicinity of Stack rocks.

Tenby’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat was launched just after 9pm and made best speed towards the scene, 10 miles west of Tenby, while Tenby and St Govans Coastguard rescue teams and Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 also made their way.

An RNLI spokesman said: “Once on scene, the volunteer crew began their search from Stackpole Head towards Bullslaughter Bay.

“With darkness fast approaching, it was decided to launch Angle all-weather lifeboat so that the search for anyone in difficulty could be widened.

“Sometime later, the helicopter spotted some climbers and directed Angle lifeboat to their position, and, while speaking to them, they confirmed it was their climbing gear and that they were in no difficulty.

“All units stood down and returned to their respective stations, with Tenby lifeboat arriving back on station at about 12.15am.”

H M Coastguard Tenby, posting on Facebook, added: “Coastguard and RNLI were quickly on the scene with the Coastguard officers searching from land along the coastline and RNLI lifeboats commencing a water search.

“Once Coastguard rescue helicopter 187 arrived on scene they managed to quickly locate two climbers using FLIR [Forward-Looking Infra-Red].

“Angle RNLI was then directed to the persons and made contact with the climbers and confirmed that the equipment found belonged to them and that they did not require assistance.”

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