Monday, 11 July 2011

Sense, Prudence, and Assassination Threats

Last week I attended the Adjudication Panel for Wales tribunal held at Tre-ysgawen Hall examining whether Cllr Peter Rogers had transgressed the respective codes of conduct of both the North Wales Police Authority (of which he is a member) and Anglesey County Council in light of his alleged behaviour at Holyhead Police Station in January 2010. Cllr Rogers had attended the station in support of a Rhosyr constituent of his who had been accused of threatening to assassinate another county councillor following a failed planning application. It was alleged that Cllr Rogers had sought to use his influence as a member of the Police Authority to gain an advantage for himself or others; and also that through having raised his voice at a Detective Constable, Cllr Rogers had behaved in a bullying or harassing manner. He was eventually cleared of all the above charges, and instead found guilty of the far lesser charge of having brought Anglesey Council and the office of councillor into disrepute and given the least consequential punishment possible: a slap on the wrist.

Although the tribunal itself was conducted in the very model of good sense and judgement, the same cannot be said in this instance of either the Police or the North Wales Police Authority which brought the original complaint against Cllr Rogers to the Ombudsman. The Police took over three months to investigate an obviously far-fetched claim then behaved in an unnecessarily heavy-handed manner in arresting, finger-printing, photographing, then keeping in the holding cells for several hours the man who had supposedly made the 'assassination' threat – even thought he presented himself at Holyhead Police Station willingly (Indeed this man suffered greatly because during the investigation he had also been prevented from continuing his job of teaching children with special needs how to play musical instruments). It was only when Cllr Rogers discovered that the Police had no corroborating evidence other than the original allegation that he is supposed to have shouted in exasperation, "you have no evidence", at the detective constable and said he wished to make an official complaint. The chairman of the tribunal in his summing-up pointedly remarked that the investigation "could and should have been brought to a close much earlier".

None of the Police Officers who gave evidence claimed that Cllr Rogers had explicitly stated he was a member of the Police Authority whilst speaking with them. The Police Authority's complaint to the Ombudsman was therefore entirely based on inference, i.e. as some of the Police Officers were aware that Cllr Rogers was a member of the Police Authority, they may have assumed that he was possibly acting on Police Authority business rather than as a councillor representing his constituent. It was on such a flimsy basis that North Wales Police Authority brought the original complaint to the Ombudsman's Office. So flimsy in fact that Mr Tal Michael, the Chief Executive of North Wales Police Authority (and known to readers of this blog from this episode), no doubt sensing which way the tribunal was likely to find, sought unprofessionally to introduce new evidence to the Tribunal at the very last moment to the evident disconcerture of Mr Peter Davies, the Tribunal Chairman. For his efforts, Mr Michael was gently but firmly "put in [his] place" by Mr Davies. The Tribunal found conclusively (and embarrassingly for the North Wales Police Authority) that the Police Authority code of conduct was not even engaged as Cllr Rogers was not present on Police Authority business nor did he give the impression that he was.

There were so many opportunities throughout this entire unhappy saga for sensible people to have shown some intelligence and discretion and thus avoided a huge and unnecessary waste of public money. The Police could indeed have brought their investigations into the ridiculous assassination allegations to a close much earlier with less disruption for everyone; the North Wales Police Authority could have discussed and resolved the 'shouting' issue with Cllr Rogers informally, rather than seeking to "throw the book at him" and thus triggering an expensive eighteen month investigation by the Ombudsman's Office and three day tribunal. The costs of everything, including the time of the Police Officers, barristers, clerks, Ombudsman's staff, various monitoring officers, rooms at Tre-ysgawen Hall etc. must be well into the hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money – money paid by all of us in tax. Unfortunately sense and prudence with public money was sadly lacking from all involved.

Declaration of Interest: Cllr Peter Rogers is a family friend and also endorsed my candidacy in this May's Welsh Assembly Elections.


Jac o' the North said...

This, let us remember, is our 'overworked and underfunded' police force.

Lleu Dar said...

"...even thought he presented himself at Holyhead Police Station willingly (Indeed this man suffered greatly because during the investigation he had also been prevented from continuing his job of teaching children with special needs how to play musical instruments)...."

I'm always in some sort of bother with the cops. I now see that a prominent Ynys Mon would be AM?MP will support me if the next time I think I'm going to get nicked all I have to do is turn up voluntarily and I WONT BE NICKED. Brill, more power to your elbow.

I also liked the bit about the kids suffering. I usually use the line that my (many) kids and their mothers will suffer if I get sent down. I see that I need to get a job teaching vulnerable kids. Be an even better heart wringer for the limp wristed bleeding heart gullible fools to feel sorry for me over.

Declaration of Interest: I have no time for pompous pratts who think that there's one way of dealing with the likes of me and another with dealing with THEIR kind. Many of my partners in crime think the same.

Richard Sletzer said...

...Hmmm Interesting. Tal Michael is, of course, the son of the disgraced Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth Alun Michael (onetime First Minister for Wales). At the time of the MP's Expenses Scandal the Western Mail reported Alun Michael had claimed more in Expenses than any other Welsh MP. He had to pay back over £19,000 of public money which he had wrongly-claimed. There was also a period when taxpayers were paying the grocery bills for Mr Michael and his family as he lodged claims for over £400 a month for food.Mr Michael dismissed criticism by saying the food allowance was a "standard item".

It was also revealed that back in 1997 Alun Michael had nominated the South Wales home in which he had lived for 22 years as his "second home" thus making himself eligible for higher allowances. Alun Michael asserted he was required as a then minister to have his main home in London.

However none of this has anything to do with his son Tal in whom I'm sure we can all have the utmost confidence.

228FPA said...

Whilst it may be very easy to criticise the police - I didn't see any lower rank officers pictured in the Daily Post concerning this.

Was this a case of HQ forcing the issues with the local lads having to comply - as always?

It is very rare that bosses are around when "the pooh hits the fan."

kp said...

Did you get a free lunch during your attendance? If so, I'll come along next time.

And whose daft idea was it to hold the tribunal at Treysgawen Hall? The KFC in Holyhead would have been just as good.

Hopefully, if Mr Rogers has now resigned from everything but his family, council taxes should start to plummet.

Paul Williams said...

KP - no, I got my sandwiches from Asda.

kp said...

Ah ha, interesting. Did staff at Treysgawen Hall offer to cut the crusts off?

kp said...

On a more serious note, will someone please ask why taxpayers money was wasted in holding such proceedings in such a place.

This council, its councillors past and present and the police authority still don't get it ... money is tight, and they are spending our money!

Anonymous said...

In a time of constraints this appears to me to a pure waste of man power and public money. Here we are having to make cuts we are spending serious money on something that benefits nobody. This gravy train has to stop and its about time that the powers to be realize there no money growing tree only the tax payer, You and Me !!!

Un o Fon

228FPA said...

I feel that the Druid has become too involved in a matter that may be a bit too close to home to comment on in the manner in which he has done.

I note comments against the police and the P/Authority. It was also Mr. Rogers who nominated the Druid as a prospective AM candidate - so he can hardly be termed impartial despite his disclaimer at the end of the piece.

It would have been much wiser if Mr. Rogers had advised his constituent that he had the right to a solicitor if he was arrested - but he would have been informed of that by the Custody Sergeant anyway.

The police have to act on all complaints irrespective of how their belief in the allegations.

The person who made the initial complaint must have felt it was a matter that needed investigation.

There is a suggestion here that the police should pick and chose what they investigate - sorry not yet.

Perhaps when our political masters become local commissioners of police this might become the status quo.

God forbid.

Anonymous said...

Laughing stock. Pathetic and shamefull. Teachers going on strike in llangefni because of cut backs and this shower can find money to spend an absolute fortune on what is a paper day out in a not so posh hotel that charges a weeks wage for a room. I know of families living on £180per week and believe me, if they decide to shoplift a bit of food for the kids they won't be criticised by me or mine. The gap is growing and I look forward to the days when the equalibirium is shared and bloody noses of the better off are common.

Anonymous said...

Well, there was me thinking that Ruane from Vale of Clwyd was the most squirmingly embarassing North Wales MP during PMQs. Today, Elfyn Llwyd has caught up with him!! What a dork.

Anonymous said...

voice on the street 10:13

"... going on strike in llangefni because of cut backs... "

that's true, but there's a bit more than just that...

Anonymous said...

Assassination threats should never be taken lightly.

With respect Druid, how would you react if the threat was made against you?

I cannot believe the accused/assassinator walked into the Police Station to hand himself in. He's lucky he never woke up to find the Armed Response Unit standing on his throat with a semi-automatic pointed at his head.

As for Peter Rogers, he should have been told to leave the Station or risk being arrested and charged just like anyone else.

As for the over-emotional Detective Constable, if Peter Rogers intimidated her by raising his voice, then she is unfit for purpose. God forbid, if she was to investigate a sickening crime she would be an emotional wreck.


The Red Flag said...

I gave up having much faith in the Police many moons ago.

I was involved in a case where someone was before the Oldham 'beaks' for using language likely to cause alarm (or some such nonsense) because they said that the officer concerned had a laughably fake suntan, pathetic whitened teeth and gelled his hair like a girlie. This was about 6 months after te Oldham riots. The Magistrates asked the Officer had he been in the riot to which he replied yes. They then asked was he a sunbed user (bright oranfe he was), were his teeth artificially whitened (you needed shades) and no need to ask about his hair because it was gelled into little spikes in Court. The Magistrates then threw the case out on the spot on the grounds that anyone who had been involved in the riots couldn't possibly be offended by something that was visibly true.

Mind, that was GMP and they aren't as good as NWP.