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Bryn knew of Smith allegations in 2005

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Mik Smith: Bryn Parry Jones knew about allegations

Mik Smith: Bryn Parry Jones knew about allegations

THERE were fresh calls this week for Bryn Parry Jones, Wales’ highest paid council chief, to resign. This time there is mounting pressure on him over the way Pembrokeshire County Council dealt with allegations about a former senior council youth worker who went on to be jailed for six years for sexually abusing a child. And as a result of a BBC Wales Week In Week Out investigation into the case, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales says he wants to re-open the case files at the Council to discover whether children were left at risk. Children’s Commissioner Keith Towler told the press: “I’ll take look at it because I think what you’re raising there are very serious allegations. That probably needs an independent look. In terms of my responsibility as Children’s Commissioner, if I take the view that things happened to children in the past could help to improve the lives of children today then I certainly have got the powers of remit to take look at it.” The Herald can reveal that claims made by IPPG leader Jamie Adams at Thursday’s full Council meeting that the Council’s CEO knew nothing about the serious allegations made by colleagues against Mik Smith are untrue. The Pembrokeshire Herald has a series of explosive internal documents that reveal that when allegations were made about Mik Smith’s inappropriate conduct towards children, Council officers tried to sweep them under the carpet. Those documents reveal that Bryn Parry Jones was told: * At least EIGHT professional youth workers had concerns about Mik Smith’s conduct toward children and that those concerns spanned ‘many years’. * Youth workers felt intimidated and threatened when they reported concerns about Mik Smith to their managers. * Officers treated Mik Smith as though he was the victim of a campaign against him by other staff members and allowed him to chair a meeting which disciplined a member of staff for making allegations about Smith’s inappropriate conduct towards children. * Concerns were expressed about the way in which two officers, County Youth Officer Eirian Evans and Personnel Officer Catherine Davies held a meeting for staff to discuss their concerns about Mik Smith with the now convicted paedophile, who was their line manager, present. One member of staff left that meeting allegedly in ‘floods of tears’. In 2004, a whistle-blower warned bosses that Smith was behaving inappropriately with children and could pose as a risk – but Smith, from Haverfordwest, was given a verbal warning. Paedophile Smith was jailed for six years for sexually abusing an eight-year-old boy a few weeks ago. The offences happened after he had been sacked. Whistle-blower Sue Thomas – who originally warned bosses about Smith’s inappropriate behaviour – thinks that the Council made a serious mistake when they gave Mik Smith a verbal warning in 2005: “I still can’t get my head round it because there were so many good hard-working professional people that came forward with complaints – I cannot understand why we were not listened to. “I can’t comprehend what type of person in management wouldn’t listen to it and wouldn’t be concerned and wouldn’t want to deal with it – I’m lost for words.” Further complaints were made about Smith in 2009 and 2011, and he was eventually sacked in 2012 after a re-investigation was ordered by the Welsh Government when the Authority’s education service was placed into special measures. Had that re-investigation not been ordered, Smith might have remained in the Council’s employment dealing with vulnerable children. The Herald understands that one member of staff, who was supposed to supervise Smith, was subsequently moved from a frontline role dealing with children to a desk job at County Hall. Mik Smith’s recent court case has prompted questions about whether the Council should have sacked Smith sooner and whether it did enough to protect children who he came into contact with. A Council spokesperson told the Herald: “It is a matter of fact that there were significant failings in the disciplinary standards within the Council’s Education directorate in 2005 when Mr Smith was the subject of various allegations about inappropriate behaviour. “Since that time the Council has completely changed its procedures and management of the Education department and is confident that the failings of nine years ago would not be repeated now. “No manager from the former Education directorate involved in the decision-making in 2005 is currently employed by the Authority.” Joyce Watson AM says this is the latest in a series of failures by the Council to properly protect vulnerable children. She wants Bryn Parry Jones – who earns more than the £228,000 a year – to step down. She told The Herald: “I think it’s time for him to go and I’m not shy of saying that – he has been the permanency in all of the negative reports that have been there and there have been a number of them. You cannot be the highest paid Chief Executive in Wales because you are worth that money, and reside over failure. Repeated failure.” The BBC told The Herald that they have spoken to an independent social worker who investigated the allegations against Mik Smith on behalf of the Council in 2005. The social worker told the broadcaster that she was ‘surprised’ that Smith had been dealt with by way of a verbal warning at the time. Bryn Parry Jones said that the council’s investigation at the time revealed no evidence of criminal activity and that since that time the Council has completely changed its procedures and management of the Education department and is confident that past failings would not be repeated now. The Council also said: “No manager from the former Education directorate involved in the decisionmaking in 2005 is currently employed by the Authority.” The Herald has an email from one youth worker sent to Council CEO Bryn Parry Jones and Gerson Davies (then Director of Education), which states: “I do recall that at my induction into PCC several years ago Mr Parry-Jones, you did say that if we had any problems which weren’t getting resolved by management that we had to come and knock on your door – I’m doing that now. I am asking for a meeting between yourself, the directors concerned and those team members involved (excluding Mik Smith) to discuss how this matter can be sorted out.” Bryn Parry Jones responded by ignoring the allegations regarding Mik Smith and said: “I think I made it clear that I was talking about a facility for direct communication in the event of line managers not listening to reasonable suggestions for organisational improvement. It would be inappropriate for me to intervene personally.” That letter is dated November 16, 2005. Sue Perkins, the Labour turncoat who is the IPPG’s spokesperson on Education and Safeguarding, rejected calls for a public inquiry. She told Thursday’s Council meeting that one was not needed as previous investigations had been carried out into the Authority’s failure to adequately safeguard children and that the Council had taken steps to ensure that such a situation was very unlikely to re-occur. Cllr Perkins told the meeting: “The disciplinary process nine years ago was flawed. The monitoring done in 2005 was inadequate. Children were interviewed in 2005 but none made allegations of sexual abuse. “We had two separate intervention boards; this case was one of 26 they discussed. It was dealt with by senior management. It was carried out by very eminent people. “The leader has apologised publicly for the outcome.” IPPG Leader Jamie Adams added: “I express my regret at the decision that was made by the disciplinary committee. “There were faults with safeguarding and education at that time – Mik Smith should have been given a final warning.” Cllr Adams went on to claim: “The allegations were taken seriously but the outcome was not as robust as it should have been.” The leader asked if any members present in the chamber were aware of the issue at the time, as if they were they were bound to have raised it. Cllr Reg Owens responded to the leader’s apparently rhetorical question by revealing that he and other members of staff did raise concerns at the time and that they were ignored. A question from Cllr Mike Stoddart asked whether or not one of the whistle-blowers, Sue Thomas, should receive an apology for how she was dealt with. Cllr Adams responded saying: “This was to do with relationships between staff, it was addressed to six officers. “The evidence at the time was the subject of a joint investigation, had they found examples of child abuse the Police would have prosecuted. “The authority has reviewed its process, I apologise to everyone that has been involved with this”. Towards the end of the meeting there was a motion from Cllr Paul Miller asking for an investigation examining the circumstances surrounding the 2005 disciplinary investigation. He asked that the Minister for Local Government be asked to do this but it was revealed that the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, was already conducting his own investigation. Cllr Miller said: “As the Children’s Commissioner is already involved in this I shall withdraw my motion.”

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Judith Rhead murder: Police appeal to public for information

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE can confirm it is appealing for information after the death of a 68-year-old woman from Pembroke Dock.

Judith Rhead’s body was discovered in a property in Market Street on Saturday, February 20.

Dale Morgan, aged 43, has been charged with her murder and was remanded into custody on Thursday (Feb 25).

Morgan is due to appear at Swansea Crown Court tomorrow, police have confirmed.

A spokesman said: “The force has set up an online portal where the public can share any information they feel might help investigators with their enquiries.

“Specifically, police would like to hear from anyone who saw or spoke to Judith between November 2020 and February 2021.”

Detectives said that they would also like to speak to anyone who has information about Dale Morgan’s movements on February 19 or 20, or who believes they have other information that could assist the investigation.

To share information to the police via the portal, please click here.

Alternatively, you can also contact the force by calling the non-emergency number, 101.

 

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PM backs Crabb’s calls for CPR lessons in schools

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PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has backed Preseli MP Stephen Crabb’s calls for CPR to be taught in schools in Wales.

Following a letter signed by Stephen Crabb which aimed to introduce CPR and lifesaving skills to the Welsh curriculum, Prime Minister Boris Johnson added his support to the campaign during today’s Prime Minister’s Questions (Feb 24).

Responding to a question in the Chamber from a colleague, the Prime Minister said: “I agree very much about the importance of learning CPR. That is why we introduced it into the curriculum for all state funded schools in England.”

However, as education is a devolved matter, the decision as to whether to introduce CPR into the Welsh curriculum lies with the Welsh Government in Cardiff and the Prime Minister added: “I share his urgency that the policy should be adopted in Wales as well.”

Commenting after the Prime Minister pledged his support towards the campaign in Wales, Stephen Crabb said: “Basic CPR lifesaving skills could play an important role in helping unexpected cardiac deaths across Wales.

“For the Welsh Government to continually say no to the idea feels wrong and could put lives at risk.

“I’m pleased the Prime Minister supports this campaign and I will continue to work with colleagues in the Senedd to ensure these skills are taught to the children of Wales.”

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Single port plan should be off the agenda for now says MS

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WELSH Labour Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales, Eluned Morgan, has welcomed a decision from Irish Ferries that underlines its commitment to the port of Pembroke.

The company has signed a 10 year deal with the Port of Milford Haven for the berth at Pembroke Dock which first came into operation under B&I Line in 1979. Since then, the port of Pembroke has seen multimillion pound investments to improve facilities and creating jobs and has become established as an important transport node with Europe.

In recent weeks, Westminster politicians have raised the suggestion that as a result of Brexit, Pembrokeshire could only support a single port linking the county of Pembrokeshire and the M4 corridor with the Irish Republic.

Eluned Morgan MS said: “I was frankly disappointed at the lack of ambition displayed by Pembrokeshire’s MPs over this issue. These continue to be worrying days for our ports which have played a pivotal role in defining the coastal communities of both Pembroke Dock and Fishguard over the years. We were told Brexit would bring benefits not the demise of our links with Europe. So I am pleased to hear that Irish Ferries has signed a 10 year deal with the Port of Milford Haven to maintain facilities at Pembroke Dock. I understand that Stena Line is committed to Fishguard also.

“In recent weeks, I have been in touch with Irish Ferries and Stena Line to understand their position as part of an ongoing conversation in light of Brexit and the subsequent shift in trade that has followed. We must all work together to ensure that Pembrokeshire is recognised as a gateway to Europe and seek out every opportunity to replace the trade lost in the years ahead.”

The Port of Milford Haven confirmed: “We are pleased to report that Irish Ferries reconfirmed its commitment to Pembroke Dock with the signing of a new 10-year deal.
This marks a huge statement of confidence in the Rosslare-Pembroke Dock crossing, which is the primary freight corridor carrying two thirds of the total freight units using the south Wales corridor, and supporting 325,000 passenger movements each year.”

Eluned Morgan is a Labour Member of the Senedd for Mid and West Wales and currently serves in the Welsh Government as Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh Language.

She is also a member of the House of Lords.

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