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ELECTION FRAUD PROBE

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election scandalTHE FINDING of guilt by a council committee investigating the electioneering activities of Council Deputy Leader Rob Lewis might only have resulted in two weeks’ suspension for the representative from Martletwy, but The Pembrokeshire Herald now understands that there could be significantly wider fallout from the affair.

The preparation of candidates’ election leaflets by Cllr Lewis and former County Councillor David Wildman, and their printing by a commercial printer, could mean that candidates who failed to declare who published and printed their election material could have their election declared void and be debarred from public office.

QUESTIONS continue to arise from the conduct of Deputy Leader of the County Council, Rob Lewis of Martletwy. Also the scandal could spread and affect candidates whose literature and promotional material was prepared by Cllr Lewis and then printed and circulated without proper declarations required by election law being made. In a breach of the Council’s clear rules of conduct, Cllr Lewis used and abused Council facilities to plan election campaigns for supposedly “independent” councillors, who were members of an IPG slate in the 2008 & 2012 Council elections.

For those breaches, Cllr Lewis was controversially suspended from the Council for only two weeks and tried throughout to deflect blame by painting himself as a victim of wrongdoing. The scandal about the IPPG’s election tactics and abuse of publicly-funded facilities was blown wide open by East Williamston councillor Jacob Williams on his online blog jacobwilliams.com.

It appears that his explosive revelations about the conduct of senior IPPG Councillors David Wildman and Rob Lewis, will have considerable further fall out.

Online comments made by other Councillors have suggested that far from being at all contrite Cllr Lewis has expressed no remorse since the suspension was handed down.

The new questions arise out of declarations that candidates for election must make on their campaign material as to who has published and printed their election literature.

Cllr Lewis was found to have prepared election literature and commissioned its printing from a business run by a Council employee who works in the Council’s own printing department. The rules on elections provide that Candidates must ensure that all their election materials (leaflets, posters, placards and all other printed materials), clearly bears on the front of the material, details of:-

• The name and address of the printer of the document

• The name and address of the promoter of the material

• The name and address of the person on behalf of whom the material is being published (and who is not the promoter)

For example: printed by Bloggs & Co of Anytown, published by Mrs Candidate on behalf of Mr Candidate of Anytown.

Failure to observe these requirements may lead to summary conviction and a fine, even if the candidate was unsuccessful. An elected candidate who is found guilty can have his/her election voided. As the duty of care in respect of the offence requires no criminal intent but a finding of fact as to whether the material used to promote a candidate is misleading, the offence is one of strict liability. In other words, a candidate is stuck with the penalty for wrongdoing, even if he was unaware what they did was illegal, as they are supposed to make sure they are aware of the relevant election laws. As advice to potential candidates on an English county council’s website puts it, quoting a former Lord Chief Justice:

“People who employ crossing sweepers to mend watches, cannot complain if the result is unsuccessful”.

The consequences for the ruling IPPG group could be particularly serious. The Pembrokeshire Herald is aware of once instance at least in 2012 where an unsuccessful candidate appears to have had his election literature prepared by Rob Lewis and printed by a commercial printer but failed to declare the same.

The candidate on that occasion, Byron Frayling, stood against David Bryan in the Haverfordwest Priory Ward.

Certainly, the pre-press versions of many candidates” election literature which were then commercially printed are in breach of election law.

The number of IPPG candidates who are potentially affected include members of the current Cabinet. A Councillor whose election literature was potentially in breach of election law even appeared on a list of “recruiters” for the then IPG at the election counts in May 2008. His role was to hand out cards inviting new, unaffiliated councillors to a meeting to join the IPG. That Councillor subsequently stated publicly that he had not decided to join the IPG until a time

AFTER the election took place.

On computer files seen by The Pembrokeshire Herald that candidate, Cllr Ken Rowlands, the Cabinet Spokesperson for Education, appears in a list of IPG candidates for canvassing on Tuesday April 29, 2008, a few days before the election. That file is shown as being printed on April 22, 2008 and created on April 7, 2008.

It is not clear whether Cllr Rowlands literature was printed by Clive James, the printer Cllr Lewis says printed IPG material, but Mr Rowlands election literature in the 2008 election was created and edited in mid-April by former Councillor David Wildman and current Deputy Leader, the suspended Rob Lewis. That is contrary to the declaration on that literature’s face, which states that the document was printed and published by the candidate’s wife.

Similarly, the properties of the material for Mr Rowlands election in 2012 show that it was created by his then fellow Cabinet member, David Wildman, despite a declaration on the same material that it was printed and published by Mr Rowlands himself.

We can re-assure Mr Rowlands, and we are happy to confirm in print, that not only did we not receive the material we publish today from Cllr Jacob Williams, but that it was provided it to us by a concerned third party. We have not discussed the story with Cllr Williams, other than to ask whether he would be happy for us to credit his website with breaking the story in the first place.

The Electoral Commission told the Herald that it has no powers to investigate allegations of election fraud, and that allegations of illegality should be immediately reported to the Police. The Commission also referred us to its online guidance, which suggested that it works closely with Returning Officers to monitor elections. The Returning Officer for Pembrokeshire is Bryn Parry Jones.

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New Information Centre opens at Withybush Hospital for those affected by Cancer

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A NEW Macmillan Information and Support Centre has opened at the entrance to Hywel Dda University Health Board’s Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to help those looking for advice and support about cancer.

The Centre has been officially opened by 10-year-old Ethan Llewelyn-Dimon, from Whitland. He recently raised a staggering £3,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support Wales by growing his hair to make a wig for the Little Princess Trust. Ethan’s family has been affected by cancer twice. His aunty Jo and mamgu had cancer. Sadly he never got to meet his aunty, as she passed away before he was born. Thankfully his Mamgu survived although she had three operations and lost her hair during the treatment. Ethan decided to grow his hair long enough to be made into a wig for children going through cancer and wanted to raise money as well to give something back to those who helped his family.

The new Information and Support Centre is open 9am – 5pm, from Monday to Friday. Helen Wood and Rachel Kersey, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Coordinators, will be in the Centre to offer information and support.

Helen Wood said, “Being told that you have cancer is one of the hardest things that you hear, and it can be a scary time where sometimes you just need someone who you can ask for support and information about what is out there that might help. This is why we developed the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service and have been supporting people in Pembrokeshire for the past six years. We are there for anyone affected by cancer in many different ways from emotional support and someone to talk to, help to access psychological support from specialist Cancer Counsellors or a referral to the Macmillan Benefits Advice Team. We can provide both electronic and hard copies of the various Macmillan resources or signpost to other local and national organisations or support networks.” 

The pandemic meant support was only available over the phone but the opening of the Centre means face to face meetings are once again possible, but for the time being it must be a booked appointment to help keep everyone as safe as possible. 

Official opening of new cancer information and support centre in Withybush hospital

Rachel Kersey said, “It is always a privilege to be able to help, no question is too small and if you are unsure of what you need, just give us a call on 01437 773859.”

Anna Tee, Partnership Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said, “Macmillan is delighted to have designed and funded this fantastic new space for people who need cancer information in collaboration with Hywel Dda.”  

Gina Beard, Lead Cancer Nurse for Hywel Dda University Health Board said, “This is a service that is provided throughout Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire and when circumstances allow, we will reach out to local businesses and attend events. The support service is here for people with concerns around a cancer diagnosis whether that’s the individual, friends or family. We are urging patients to come forward for diagnostic tests as we are concerned that many are still not seeking the care they need due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We want people who suspect they have cancer to know we are very much open for business.”

The way the public access NHS services has changed and the Welsh Government is encouraging people to get to know the breadth of NHS services and options available to them as part of its Help Us, Help You campaign. The Macmillan support service can help with support and advice. The Health Board are also urging people to phone their local GP surgery if they think they might have symptoms of cancer, such as a new lump, pain, bleeding or sudden weight loss.

The Macmillan Information and Support Centre can be contacted by telephoning: 01437 773 859 or email: MacmillanCISSPembrokeshire.HDD@wales.nhs.uk

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Four charged with conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in west Wales

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FOUR people have been arrested and charged as part of an investigation into an organised crime gang supplying class A drugs from London to various locations in west Wales.

Dyfed-Powys Police, with support from The Met Police, carried out warrants at four addresses on July 21, resulting in four arrests.

Mohammed Osman, aged 23, Yonis Mohammed, aged 20, Salman Mohamoud, aged 23 – all from Islington – and Amy Simmons, aged 21, from Dulwich were charged with a total of 12 offences:

  • Mohammed Osman: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine,
  • Yonis Mohammed: Two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and two counts of conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.
  • Salman Mohamoud: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine
  • Amy Simmons: Conspiring to supply class A drug heroin, and conspiring to supply class A drug crack cocaine.

All four appeared at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court on Friday, July 23, where they were remanded in custody.

They are due to appear at Swansea Crown Court for their next hearing on August 20.

The investigation is being carried out by the Ceredigion Serious and Organised Crime Team, Aberystwyth CID and the Operation Orochi command of the Met Police.

Detective Sergeant Steve Jones said: “These four arrests and charges are the result of a coordinated approach to target an organised crime gang we believe is running a county lines operation into the Dyfed-Powys Police force area.

“We will continue to work diligently to disrupt gangs of this kind, to prevent the supply of illegal substances into our community.

“I would like to thank all officers involved, as well as the Met Police for their part in the operation.”

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Fishguard RNLI rescues drifting pleasure boat and crew

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ON SATURDAY evening  (Jul 24) a member of the public walking the coastal path near Carregwastad Point saw, in the fading light, a pleasure boat with people aboard apparently in difficulty. The member of the public then called 999.

This resulted in Fishguard RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat launching at 8.50pm with a full volunteer crew and speeding to the scene in calm sea conditions. Upon arrival at the location the lifeboat found a 7 foot pleasure boat drifting with four young men onboard.

Location of incident at Carregwastad Point, North Pembrokeshire (Image ONS)

The boat’s outboard engine had broken down and they had no auxiliary engine or any safety equipment, no lights, and no form of communication.

A tow line was attached to the boat and the men were transferred to the lifeboat.

One of the lifeboat crew went aboard the pleasure boat for the return journey to Goodwick public slipway where UK Coastguard personnel were waiting to speak with the four men.

The lifeboat returned to its station, arriving at 9.50pm.

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