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Rapist councillor to appeal child sex conviction

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THE FORMER Mayor of Pembroke and convicted child rapist Dai Boswell is to appeal his conviction of historic child sex offences.

The Herald has been told by Pembrokeshire County Council that Boswell lodged an appeal against conviction and sentence last week.

The St Mary North representative’s conviction had led to calls on social media for him to be somehow ‘sacked’ as a councillor.

However, due to a 46-year-old piece of legislation, Boswell is still able to receive his allowance as a member of the County Council and there is nothing the Council can do to stop it.

The fact that the former Mayor of Pembroke, who has been convicted of a string of historical sex offences is able to continue to receive his allowance has caused understandable outrage. However, PCC are powerless to remove him as a councillor due to the terms of the Local Government Act 1972.

The power to amend the legislation and change the criteria for when a councillor may and may not remain in post is under the control of the Welsh Government, and amending the law would require specific legislation to the Welsh Assembly, which is now in recess.

The law currently means that steps to disqualify a councillor can only be taken if they fail to appeal to the conviction within 28 days of sentence being passed upon them – in Boswell’s case that no longer applies.

As he is appealing his conviction, Boswell cannot now be disqualified under the provisions of the relevant part of the Act covering disqualification until the conclusion of the appeal process and only then if his conviction is upheld.

To heap further misery upon the Council – which is copping an extraordinary amount o​f​ criticism – there is nothing it can do to either short-circuit that process or to take steps that would amount to going behind it by suspending the paedophile councillor until the end of his appeal.

When we asked the County Council to explain the position for our readers, a spokesperson told us: ​”​Pembrokeshire County Council is aware that there is some speculation around the position of Councillor David (Dai) Boswell following sentencing on 13 July for extremely serious sexual offences against two children.

“Unless the Councillor resigns from his position, the Council can only disqualify a Member if, since election, he has been convicted of an offence and has been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than three months.

“Conviction is deemed to occur on expiry of the period allowed for making an appeal or application with respect to the conviction (the defence has 28 days in which to serve an appeal notice following conviction), or the date on which such appeal/application is finally disposed of. Councillor Boswell submitted a notice of appeal against all convictions and sentence on 16 July​.

​”​Councillor Boswell retains his seat and is currently entitled to receive a salary. The Council cannot declare a vacancy until the appeal process is completed or, if the date is sooner, the date six months from which he has failed to attend a meeting of the Council, that date being 23 October 2018​.”​

In short, due to the way the Local Government Act was drafted almost half a century ago, a ‘conviction’ does not become what might be deemed ‘a final conviction’ until after a failed appeal and Boswell remains a councillor until that point and entitled to his remuneration as such.

However, a possibility remains open for the Council to pursue in order to rid itself of Boswell in a few months’ time.Under the law, if a councillor fails to attend a meeting for a period of six months, they can be removed and a by-election called.

Child-rapist Boswell last attended a meeting of the Council on April 23.The period of six months for disqualification runs forward from that date and continues to run at the same time as any period following conviction, sentence, and/or appeal. It is highly unlikely that any Judge would even consider an application to set aside any decision by the Council to remove Boswell from his Pembroke St Mary’s seat after the six month period had elapsed, unless further assurances had been given to Boswell by Council officers in relation to the rule’s operation upon him before St George’s Day or afterwards.

We asked the NSPCC whether they were actively lobbying for a change in the law to prevent such a scandal occurring again.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Boswell was convicted of appalling sex offences against children and it is right that he now faces many years behind bars where he cannot harm others.

“It is wrong that someone convicted of sexual crimes against children can continue to serve as an elected official for any period of time and we support a change to the law to ensure situations like this are not repeated.”

The key point is that it is a change in the law which is required, not unilateral and unlawful action by the Council, however well-intentioned.Moreover, the WLGA developed the same point in its press statement on the Boswell case.

After pointing out the extreme rarity of cases such as Boswell’s, a WLGA spokesperson said: “The issue in question is a legal anomaly in the current framework that needs to be urgently addressed. A guilty verdict does mean an automatic disqualification, following a 28-day window for a possible appeal.

“This is where the problem is located and needs urgent review, especially as this deplorable offence is a fundamental breach of the statutory duty that councillors have to ensure that all children within local authority areas are safeguarded and protected.”

Meanwhile, councillors will be ruing the advice tendered to Boswell by Monitoring Officer Claire Jones last year – namely, that he did not have to attend council meetings as seminars would do – that issue now is more to do with the confidence they can have in the Monitoring Officer.The Herald has spoken to a number of councillors, all of whom are less than impressed by the position into which the Monitoring Officer’s advice to Boswell has placed them, with one suggesting it would be hard for Ms Jones to regain members’ trust in the validity of her judgements in light of the mess.

Those feelings are intensified by the fact that had Boswell applied for a leave of absence under the rules, as a person innocent until proven guilty it would have been bound to have been granted. It is possible that in seeking to avoid one unpopular decision, a ‘solution’ was reached which has now come back to bite those officers involved in the original decision. A decision upon which no councillors were consulted.

That confidence will have been further eroded by the extraordinary debacle that saw members of the Council’s staff scuttling around County Hall to find records and a dramatic reinterpretation of the status of a sandwich lunch attended by Boswell in November 2017 before James Goudie QC was able to support the Monitoring Officer’s peculiar interpretation of the rules and regulations.

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Johnston: Police appeal for witnesses

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POLICE have again appealed for witnesses after a collision in Johnston, near Haverfordwest, on Wednesday (August 5).

A boy on a scooter sustained minor injuries during the collision, which took place at around 4.20pm. A red 4×4 is believed to have been involved also.

Anyone who was in the area of the St Peters Road pelican crossing, or nearby Langford road, and either witnessed the collision or who has CCTV that covers this area is asked to get in touch.

You can telephone 101, visit bit.ly/DPPReportOnline, or email contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired you can text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Dyfed-Powys Police Ref DP-20200805-249

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Police investigate ‘Chinese government vehicle’ spotted near Puma Oil Terminal

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POLICE have confirmed that they are conducting “the appropriate enquiries” after a suspicious vehicle was spotted in the vicinity of Puma Oil Terminal on Saturday afternoon (Aug 8).

Following a tip off a Herald reporter was dispatched to the area, and saw a black Volvo SUV with three IC5 (Korean, Japanese or Chinese) looking males inside the vehicle. The vehicle had diplomatic number plates identifying that it belonged to the Chinese government.

However, a DVLA check suggested that the plates were registered to a BMW and not the Volvo they were displayed upon.

South Hook LNG security was notified as a precaution.

A police spokesman said: “Members of the public are advised to contact the police to report any suspicious activity or incidents.”

Both the UK and US governments are currently on alert following incidents of spying relating to key infrastructure, computer systems and state secrets by the Chinese authorities.

[The image used in this report is a computer generated artist’s impression.]

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Milford Haven Street Food Festival Returns To Waterfront This August

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MILFORD Haven Street Food Festival will be setting up camp at Milford Waterfront for the third year running to continue their Summer of street food tour, and with a brand new sponsor joining for the ride! Jubel Beer will be on hand fully loaded with refreshing fruity beers to serve all weekend long.

Street Food Warehouse and their team of feeders are heading back into town this bank holiday weekend, 28th – 30th August.

Cooking up a storm between noon – 10pm, the festival is split into three mouth-watering portions and is the only way to get you in the mood for summer and of course, fill you up to the brim on all of your favourite foodie delights.

You’ll need to grab your tickets beforehand, just make sure you come with an empty belly ready to taste new flavours – the world will really be your oyster. From smokin’ souvlaki to naughty nachos, mouthwatering Malaysian to chocolatey treats. Carnivores, veggies and vegans alike will be able to get their hungry hands on a range of Insta-worthy grub from all over the world!

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten that you’ll need something to tingle your taste buds and wash it all down with! Luckily, The Pop Up Bar Hire Company has got the whole weekend covered, offering all of your favourite beverages ranging from zesty Mojitos to ice-cold pints of Jubel Beer.

Two Lads Kitchen, Spicer’s Meat Wagon, Makasih and Chock Shop are just some of the street food vendors that will be attending the weekend, with many more both local and national vendors to be announced.

Come rain or shine, the event is completely free and family-friendly where you can get your hands on the most vibrant and high quality street food Milford Haven has to offer.

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