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MINUTES MEDDLER UNMASKED

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gwynnevans

Another Pembrokeshire Herald Exclusive

THE WEEK before last the Herald exclusively revealed that an unnamed senior officer at Pembrokeshire County Council tampered with the minutes of panel meetings where applications for European cash grants for notorious building restoration projects in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock were considered.

The grant schemes are mired in controversy and in February the council had no option but to self-refer allegations of fraud to the police after clear evidence came to light in one project of favourable treatment in the tendering process to the successful building contractor.

The county council is protecting the identity of the officer who tampered with the grant panel minutes, however the Herald can now exclusively reveal it was GWYN EVANS, the authority’s key manager overseeing European funding

In A scarcely believable twist of events, the Herald also understands after higher up council personnel became aware of the scale and nature of Mr Evans’ alterations to numerous grant panel meeting minutes, he underwent disciplinary proceedings resulting in just a WRITTEN WARNING.

Mr Evans has worked as ‘European Manager’ at Pembrokeshire County Council since August 1996 according to a publically accessible professional profile he created online.

His page on the popular vocational social networking site LinkedIn – the business sector equivalent of Facebook – outlines a comprehensive career in high profile European funding roles.

Previously working as a ‘Principal Admin Officer (EU Funds)’ at Bridgend College between 1994-1996, Mr Evans says on LinkedIn that his role there “involved overseeing the projects to ensure they complied with regulatory requirements and project closure,” and during the prior twelve year period he held ‘various accountancy positions’ at Mid Glamorgan County Council.

Under the ‘Skills & Expertise’ section of his LinkedIn profile, Mr Evans boasts dozens of talents including ‘Governance, Compliance, Project Management,’ ‘Contract Management,’ and ‘Report Writing.’ He also states he is a “Past chairman of Welsh European Officers Group.”

Fiddling with documents relating so closely to the grant scheme which is now under police investigation as well as internal review by the authority’s Audit Committee is something the council’s Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Michael Williams, told the Herald is “a shocking revelation.”

Cllr Williams, who’s served Tenby as a councillor for over 45 years and doesn’t know the identity of the officer, told the Herald: “Quite frankly I’m becoming lost for words. What on earth will be next? If elected members are no longer able to trust senior officers to properly record decisions and maintain council documents, then we are lost.”

Adding: “The entire basis of democratic accountability is seriously threatened by what has been going on in Pembrokeshire for too long now. I was elected first in 1968, and at that time I had complete faith in officers and fellow members. Under the present regime that trust has been seriously eroded, and it’s not hard to see why.”

The fact that Mr Evans tampered with the council’s records of grant panel meetings only recently came to light after he was brought to task by an internal disciplinary process. It is not known who discovered the alterations Mr Evans made, or how, but he made them directly following a Freedom of Information request submitted to the council by Milford Haven (Hakin) Councillor Mike Stoddart on 29 May 2013.

Cllr Stoddart’s FoI request sought copies of the minutes of all grant panel meetings of the Commercial Property Grant Scheme (CPGS). Following receipt of Cllr Stoddart’s request, Gwyn Evans made several alterations to the minutes of multiple panel meetings that have all been seen by the Herald, many of which make it appear as though more scrutiny of grant applications took place than was recorded in the unaltered minutes.

Following Mr Evans’s written warning, Cllr Mike Stoddart was sent a letter by the authority’s Head of IT and Central Support Services, John Roberts, outlining the alarming discovery and apologising that the documents disclosed to him under the FoI act in 2013 were not accurate as they had been fiddled with in-between his submission of the request, and the documents being provided to him.

All of the alterations were made to the minutes of grant panel meetings which recommended grant funding be awarded to properties owned by controversial developer Cathal McCosker, or companies of his. The panel, made up entirely of unelected officers, recommended that the council’s elected cabinet should formally award public cash for 10 Meyrick Street at a meeting held on 15 December 2011, 29 Dimond Street at a meeting on 13 February 2012, and 31 Dimond Street on 4 May 2012.

Many of the changes concerned the addition of detail and tidying up of sentences, but some also introduced completely new elements which were not included in the untampered minutes. Added to the minutes concerning 29 Dimond Street (occupied then, as now, by Paul Sartori charity shop) was a completely new sentence: “The Panel agreed that the existing photos showed the building to be in a poor state of repair and in clear need of renovation.”

Changes were not only written to conceal they were added in after the fact, but a further alteration to the 29 Dimond Street panel meeting minutes was cunningly crafted to imply panel members showed an element of foresight, by the addition of the text: “…whilst jobs created/accommodated and enterprises accommodated outputs are not expected in the short term (as the Sartori Charity Shop is expected to remain here in the immediate future), there is a possibility that a new enterprise may move into the premises before the end of the Programme.”

As well as pointing out all of the alterations that had been made, Mr Roberts sent Cllr Stoddart full copies of the original unedited documents, and referred in his letter to the relevant statute which relates to the “Offence of altering etc. records with intent to prevent disclosure.”

Section 77 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 was quoted, which states that any person is guilty of a criminal offence “if he alters, defaces, blocks, erases, destroys or conceals any record held by the public authority, with the intention of preventing the disclosure by that authority of all, or any part, of the information to the communication of which the applicant would have been entitled”.

Concluding his letter, Mr Roberts told Cllr Stoddart he would be making a formal referral of the matter to the relevant authorities: “I will be making the Information Commissioner’s Office aware of this matter in order that the Information Commissioner may give it consideration.”

The maximum fine that can be imposed following conviction of the crime of altering documents intended to prevent disclosure of information to which a person is entitled, is £5000, though where multiple documents are concerned, it is unclear if each would be treated as a separate charge under the legislation.

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Charity

Calls for help over VHF radio may have been a hoax, say RNLI

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THE ANGLE All-Weather Lifeboat was requested to launch on service at 10:23am this morning, Monday (July 22).

Following a call to the Coastguard from Milford Haven VTS, the crew were tasked after the VTS operators overheard a female voice calling for help on VHF channel 12.

After narrowing down the transmission to having been received on the Pembroke aerial site, the crew were requested to conduct a search.

Launching at 10:30am, the lifeboat made best speed to the moorings at Hazelbeach, and a hasty search was requested by the Coastguard of any moored vessels. The crew began making their way amongst the moorings, heading up to the moorings off Neyland. With nothing untoward sighted, the crew proceeded to search the moorings off Hobbs Point, Barnlake Point, Burton, Llanion and Rudders Boat Yard.

With nothing found, the Coastguard requested that the crew continue their search up river to Picton Point. The lifeboat continued searching up the western shore encompassing Llangwm before altering course just past Landshipping and searching the eastern shore back down the river, calling in to Lawrenny on the way to check any vessels moored there.

The RNLI said that the search continued back down as far as the Cleddau Bridge.

On Facebook the organisation posted :”Following a thorough visual, communications and radar search the crew were subsequently stood down when no further information or calls had been received.

“The tasking was therefore deemed to be a hoax call.

“The lifeboat was back alongside and readied for further service by 1pm.”

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Crime

Police investigating after man injured during altercation in cemetery

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POLICE have confirmed that they are investigating a report of an altercation which occurred in the cemetery off Gelliswick Road, Hakin, Milford Haven sometime between 4.30 and 5.00pm, Wednesday 17th July, 2024.

Following the incident, a 32-year-old man went to hospital for treatment and was later released.

A 19-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of assault and released on bail pending further police enquiries police have confirmed.

The incident caught the attention of locals, who said there was a large police response to the incident included armed officers.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Quote reference: 394 of the 17th

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org

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Crime

West Wales man jailed for rape after victim’s cries heard

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A WEST WALES man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for raping a woman in an attack that ended only when her cries for help were heard by others. Charlie Evans, a 22-year-old former Exeter University student, ignored his victim’s repeated pleas for him to stop during the 45-minute ordeal.

The incident took place after Evans and his victim had attended a party, where both had been drinking. The court heard that after kissing, the pair left together, with the woman under the impression that Evans lived in a flat with her friend.

Upon returning to the flat, the woman used the toilet before Evans raped her, despite her repeatedly saying no. The prosecutor described the victim as crying hysterically and added: “She did not want these things to happen.”

During the attack, one student testified they could hear the victim not consenting and begging Evans to stop. Another person said they were so concerned they inquired about what was happening.

Police were alerted after the incident was reported to campus staff, who then contacted the emergency services. Evans was told to leave his flat and was subsequently removed from the university. He denied the offence during his police interview.

Evans, of Victoria Avenue, Mumbles, Swansea, was convicted earlier this year at Exeter Crown Court of rape and sexual assault. He was sentenced on July 12. In a victim statement, the woman said her life had been forever changed by Evans’s actions. She expressed feelings of fear, confusion, and shame during the incident and continues to suffer from nightmares. She now feels distrustful of men and has sought support to cope with her trauma, the court heard.

Christopher Quinlan KC, defending, presented multiple good character references for Evans, describing him as a “kind and respectful” young man who was “always positive, compassionate and thoughtful.” He argued that his client’s life was “in ruins” as a result of his actions.

However, Judge Stephen Climie told Evans he had “completely misrepresented” his victim’s position, adding: “She was so far away from wishing to engage in your sexual activity that the only explanation for your attitude and approach was alcohol that blinded you to what was clearly and obviously the word ‘No’.” He continued: “So far as your life is concerned you will be crushed as a result of the sentence I’m required to impose.”

Following the sentencing, DC Michele Hicks from Devon and Cornwall Police’s major crime investigation team praised the victim for her courage and resilience throughout the investigation. She said: “I hope this case reassures the community how seriously the police take reports of sexual violence against women and girls and gives people the courage to come forward in future.”

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