How Plaid Cymru Works - 16

This is the sixteenth tranche of emails from the correspondence between various people in Plaid Cymru and myself, following a complaint about what I had written on the subject of the Ynys Môn by-election last year. For easy reference, I've put together the all the previous correspondence on this page, which I will keep updating as further emails are published.

From: Dafydd Trystan
Sent: Tuesday, 4 February 2014, 9:01pm
To: Michael Haggett
Subject: Re: Appeal Hearing 29th Jan 2014

Dear Michael

I have this evening received a copy of Alun Cox's letter to you regarding your appeal against the determination of the Hearing Panel of the MDSP.

May I firstly take this opportunity to apologise on behalf of the Party that matters of process have impacted on the timely determination of the complaint against you.

We are now in somewhat uncharted constitutional waters, therefore I wanted to consult with you at the earliest possible opportunity as to the next steps.

My suggestion therefore is as follows:

i)  that we appoint a panel to hear the complaint from amongst the members of the NEC who have not yet had any dealing with the complaint. If there are any other members of the NEC you feel should be excluded from consideration as to membership of the panel please let me know as soon as possible.

ii)  that we appoint a suitable investigating officer. I am willing to consider three options: a) a senior member of staff who could command the confidence of all involved e.g. Dr Ian James Johnson; b) the Chair of the Appeal Panel, Alun Cox; or c) another fit and proper person to produce an investigative report, who is ready, willing and able to do so at no cost to the Party. I am anxious to hear any views you may have on the options above.

iii)  that by the beginning of next week, i.e. by the 10th of February, that we may agree a mutually acceptable timetable for the conduct of the investigation and the determination of the complaint.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience,

Sincerely

Dafydd Trystan

Dr Dafydd Trystan Davies
Cadeirydd / Chair Plaid Cymru

From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Friday, 7 February 2014, 1:04am
To: Dafydd Trystan
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Leanne Wood, Alun Cox
Subject: Re: Appeal and other matters

Dear Dafydd

As you were one of the people involved in what has happened, and specifically because you were the one who made the decision to turn a blind eye to the flaws in the disciplinary process even after they had been drawn to your attention, it is inappropriate for you to now write to me with any suggestions.

Also, your wrongdoing in failing to declare the obvious conflict of interest of your wife Lisa being on the Hearing Panel is certain to be one of the factors in any inquiry that the party might wish to hold to prevent this sort of farce from happening again.

For these two reasons, any matters to be discussed must be handled by someone within the party who is rather more sincere and rather less anxious.

Best regards

Michael

From: Dafydd Trystan
Sent: Friday, 7 February 2014, 6:34am
To: Michael Haggett
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Leanne Wood, Alun Cox
Subject: Appeal etc

Dear Michael

Thank you for your note.

May I make one point relating to the process followed by the MDSP. When you wrote to me with concerns, I noted that the process to be followed (as set out in the constitution and agreed by the members) was rigorous and thorough and would deal with the matters raised. I note from Alun Cox's letter that that is precisely what happened.

Let me now turn to the current position. It falls to me as Chair of the Party to determine the next steps in relation to this process, in accordance with the constitution and standing orders. I decided it was appropriate to consult you on those next steps. I shall determine the next steps to be taken on Monday morning (10th of February), as I am required to do so. If you wish to make any response to the detail of my Email earlier this week, please do so by then,

Dafydd Trystan

From: Alun Cox
Sent: Friday, 7 February 2014, 6:49pm
To: Michael Haggett
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards
Subject: Re: Appeal and other matters

Dear Michael

Thank you for your email. I would respond as follows:

1.  The remit of the Appeal Panel was not only to determine whether procedure followed by the Hearing Panel was flawed and therefore unjust. I refer you to point 6.8 of the Standing Orders. There are no limits stated as to the scope of the Appeal’s panel’s decision.

2.  In keeping with the Orders, it was our decision that the complaint against you should now be remitted back to the investigatory stage of the Disciplinary procedure –as already outlined in my Appeal decision letter to you.

3.  At this moment in time therefore, you continue to be involved in the disciplinary procedure, as set out in the Standing Orders.

4.  As such, clause 9 of the Standing Orders remain applicable to you: i.e. the only person who is allowed to make a public statement about the disciplinary procedure is the chair of the party. That means that everyone else involved in the process must keep the matter confidential.

5.  I was deeply disappointed to learn that you ignored the Appeal Panel’s decision in this manner, and published information regarding the disciplinary procedure on your blog Syniadau yesterday.

6.  As such I have no choice but to refer the contents of your blog yesterday to my fellow members on the Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel, as it appears that the information you have placed on your blog to be either actions or statements damaging or potentially damaging to the public reputation of the party, or was a public statement in breach of Clause 9 of the Standing Orders. I will therefore be asking the panel to evaluate this new allegation against you in keeping with clause 3.3.

In the meantime, please note that it was the decision of the appeal panel to remit the original complaint against you back to new investigatory officer, and therefore you remain bound not to make public statements (or in other words, to keep the matter confidential) until such time as that process has been allowed to run its course. I would ask that you therefore desist from publishing futrther material and remove the article published yesterday.

Regards

Alun

From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Sunday, 9 February 2014, 15:35am
To: Alun Cox
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Leanne Wood, Dafydd Trystan
Subject: Re: Appeal and other matters

Dear Alun

Thank you for your email of 7 February. I note that you have ignored most of the points I made in my email to you of the same date, but I will not be as evasive as you have been. Instead, I will do my best to answer every point you have made.

-

1.  Standing Orders are quite clear that an appeal can only be made on one or more of the specific grounds set out in Clause 6.3, and it is incumbent upon the appellant to be specific about what aspects of the procedure were breached. I did exactly that. The Appeal Panel, therefore, was only empowered to make a decision about the matter put before it: namely whether the procedure followed was flawed and therefore unjust.

Everything else was irrelevant to this appeal, but might well become relevant to a future inquiry about what went wrong in this case. I noted the opinions you expressed but, as I mentioned in point 3 of my email of 7 February, you had no competence to decide things such as whether there was any intention to mislead or ignore procedure.

You seem to think Clause 6.8 is important because of what it does not say, but at the same time ignore what it actually does say: namely that the decision you were required to make is final. If it is final, it means that the disciplinary procedure against me is now over. The obvious meaning of Clause 6.8 is that the disciplinary procedure ends at the conclusion of the appeal, not that it enables you to do whatever you like without limits.

-

2.  You then say, "in keeping with the Orders, it was our decision ... " This is exactly the opposite of what you said in point 1. In point 1 you claimed that you could make a decision about anything you liked because "there are no limits stated", but you now claim your decision was "in keeping with" SOs. You can't have it both ways at the same time.

-

3.  I'd be rather more careful than you are about saying "at this moment in time". You seem to be trying to play tricks with time and attempting to wind the clock back. It is most certainly not, as you claim, "as set out in the Standing Orders". You are simply making it up as you go along.

However even if it were true that I "continue to be involved in the disciplinary procedure", what bearing would that have on me making what has happened public? Clause 9.1 does not tie the prohibition on making public statements to whether the disciplinary procedure is or is not ongoing. It only prohibits it until a specific, named point has been reached.

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that the disciplinary process could be re-started. There would be a second Hearing Panel, which would appoint a second Investigating Officer, who would conduct a second investigation and produce a second report. That second report would be considered by the second Hearing Panel who would decided if there was a case for me to answer and set out what that case was. There would then be a second hearing with a second verdict, which might be followed by a second appeal heard by a second set of previously uninvolved members of the MDSP.

If the second appeal was successful, the disciplinary process could then be re-started again. There would be a third Hearing Panel, which would appoint a third Investigating Officer, who would conduct a third investigation and produce a third report. That third report would be considered by the third Hearing Panel who would decided if there was a case for me to answer and set out what that case was. There would then be a third hearing with a third verdict, which might be followed by a third appeal heard by a third set of previously uninvolved members of the MDSP.

If the third appeal was successful, the disciplinary process could then be re-started again. There would be a fourth Hearing Panel, which would appoint a fourth Investigating Officer, who would ...

Apart from how ridiculous you will look if your idea of justice includes making me subject to double, triple, quadruple or unlimited jeopardy, the point is this. Clause 9.1 does not say "until after the conclusion of the final appeal". It says "until after the conclusion of any appeal". The wording is precise and unambiguous. An appeal (whether it turns out to be the only one or not) has now been concluded, therefore I am perfectly free to make any public statement I wish.

Put bluntly, the price the MDSP must now pay for making a dog's breakfast of the disciplinary process first time round is that, even if you could "re-start" the disciplinary process, you could no longer rely on what you are doing being done behind closed doors shut away from the light of scrutiny. You would not be able to get away with the previous disregard for SOs or failure to act in a fair and even-handed way, because everybody who has an interest in Welsh politics would be laughing at you as you did it. Personally, I am convinced that Chris and Dafydd only acted in the way they did because they thought they could get away with it ... so long as it didn't ever become public knowledge. That was a bad miscalculation because at some point I would be free to make their actions public. I clearly warned them, but they ignored my warnings. They cannot now avoid paying the price for it.

-

4.  Once again you use the word "confidential". There is no mention of the word in Clause 9.1. As I've noted above, and on many occasions previously, what Clause 9.1 prohibits is the making of public statements until after the conclusion of any appeal.

-

5.  I don't doubt you are deeply disappointed that I "ignored" your instruction. I've no doubt you'd be just as deeply disappointed if I "ignored" an instruction from you to walk around with a pair of red underpants on my head and a couple of pencils stuck up my nostrils. But why should I obey an instruction that it is outside your competence to make?

What the MDSP can and cannot do is governed by what it says in SOs. You cannot make arbitrary decisions outside your remit any more than you can make up new rules out of thin air. I'm sure many people in positions of power in Plaid Cymru will be absolutely incensed that I have foiled this blatant attempt to stitch me up behind closed doors. But tough. I played by the rules, the Hearing Panel didn't.

-

6.  You're perfectly free to refer the post I put up to the remainder of the MDSP, but you will then hit exactly the same brick wall as you ran into in your first attempt to stitch me up.

Rhun lied, yet instead of taking action against him for misleading the public about our party policy, you chose to ignore his wrongdoing and take action against me for upholding party policy and trying to repair the damage caused by his dishonesty. In the same way, the only way publishing what has happened in these disciplinary proceedings can possibly damage the public reputation of the party is if it reveals wrongdoing or inappropriate behaviour by those in positions of power in the party. It is the wrongdoing which brings the party into disrepute; exposing that wrongdoing is something that any responsible organization would of course find awkward, but would be grateful for it, rather than seek to punish it.

The fundamental flaw in what you are trying to do is that you want to shoot the messenger rather than the people responsible for the wrongdoing which that messenger is reporting. Your attitude is like that of a common criminal who thinks that what they do is not a crime unless they get caught. But yes, if you want to report me to the MDSP because publishing the correspondence might damage the public reputation of the party, go ahead. It will make my day all over again. If the MDSP decides to initiate a disciplinary procedure against me, I will again scrupulously adhere to the rules laid out in SOs, and Clause 9.1 in particular ... but I will again be perfectly free to make what happens public after the conclusion of any appeal.

I urge you to see sense. If what I post about the earlier disciplinary procedure is damaging then it makes a mockery of your opinion that there was no attempt to mislead or ignore procedure. You can't have it both ways at the same time. But if, on the other hand, you realize that there has been wrongdoing and inappropriate behaviour by people in positions of power, the party needs to act and act very quickly. Plaid Cymru's reputation will not be damaged if we are seen to take action against those in our party who have clearly lied, engaged in other wrongdoing, or turned a blind eye to it.

-

So I am going to present the party with a proposition that might surprise you, but is perfectly in keeping with my standards of openness, honesty and accountability.

As I have said from the outset, I am prepared to answer any criticisms about anything I have written on Syniadau from anyone who wants to take issue with it. I extend this courtesy even to those who write anonymous comments on Syniadau, so I'm certainly not going to refuse to be accountable for what I say with those who do not hide behind anonymity.

Therefore I am prepared for there to be a new investigation, but the remit of this new investigation must include my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd, as well as Elin's complaint against me. Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd must be formally told that their statements are being investigated as part of a disciplinary procedure against them and must be made subject to the same potential sanctions as I might be. The investigation must be carried out by someone of stature from outside the party, must itself reach firm conclusions as to culpability, and must be published.

The detailed remit and arrangements will need to be negotiated between the parties with an "honest broker". This person cannot be Dafydd or any member of the MDSP because you have all been previously involved at various stages of this farce, are therefore are all compromised. The principle to be followed in these negotiations is that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". So far, the only person who has behaved appropriately in this matter has been Rhuanedd. Her example in standing down because of what might be perceived as a conflict of interest with Rhun is a model that Dafydd would do well to learn from (I note his email of 7 February, and it is quite obvious from it that he hasn't learnt anything). I would therefore like to suggest that she acts as the "honest broker" in negotiating these arrangements, if she is prepared to do so.

I would like Leanne, as leader of the party, to now make the decision as to whether this is an acceptable way forward.

Best regards

Michael

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. ....So, in the world that Plaid inhabit, a successful appeal leads not to the dropping of the case but to re-instating the original complaint and having another go at the stitch up.

You have to feel sorry for Elin Jones; first the badgers escape her deathly embrace and then MH gets away. It's no wonder other Plaid bloggers are so careful to be un-critical of the Soviet.

Anonymous said...

A party that needs a bunch of new faces. And soon.

Good riddance to old rubbish!

shambo said...

What must be very dispiriting is the total absence of supportive comment from other Plaid Cymru bloggers. In fact, there hasn't been any comment. What a gutless bunch.

Owen said...

Although I'm not a Plaid member, I suppose I fall under the banner of a "Plaid Cymru blogger". I suspect this is drawing to an end now, which is all I'm waiting for. Patience, Shambo.

Anonymous said...

As a Plaid member I have a few comments to make, but in the first instance I think Michael should be thanked and commended for having the courage to go public with this information. I think it's safe to say that the (mis-) conduct of senior figures and officers in Plaid has forced him to adopt the role of "whistle-blower" in relation to what to what I can only describe as gross misconduct within the higher echelons of Plaid.

No doubt those at the top in Plaid (and we can safely dispense with the myth of participatory democracy and "decentralist socialism" at this point) will be infuriated at the fact that he's used his blog to do so. But I think you'd be hard pressed to find a better example of blogging as the unofficial "Fifth Estate" in a Wales where the traditional media works largely to nullify and diffuse dissent rather than articulate it.

As a member of Plaid, I can't say I'm surprised with this. What sickens and appalls me is the sheer extent to which a grassroots member and activist has been systematically hounded for simply attempting to uphold party policy, as democratically agreed by the members. Let me re-iterate. This is a witch-hunt.

I have to say that during the Ynys Mon by-election campaign I disagreed with Michael's public condemnation of Rhun ap Iorwerth on the basis that I felt he was being a stickler for the rules and that flexibility should be exercised in picking "the right man for the job". In the light of subsequent events I feel now that perhaps this point of view was rather misplaced.

In the first instance incontrovertible evidence has been provided to the effect that Rhun ap Iorwerth lied about Party policy on a public media outlet. My position on Nuclear power is that I am against it, and on that it accords with the view of the membership. To bend the rules of the Party in order to allow an individual to assume candidacy, and then for that individual in short order to go on to publicly flout Party policy may be worth swallowing for the sake of short-term victory in Ynys Mon, but what about the long-term ramifications for Plaid’s credibility across the rest of Wales? Nid Cymru oll yw Ynys Mon, wedi’r cyfan…

As a member of Plaid Cymru, this matter raises questions which are directly relevant to me:

1) To what extent will my democratically expressed views as a Party member be upheld by elected representatives who are the public face of Plaid Cymru?

2) What basis of trust do I now have in my dealings with officers who I know full well can willingly flout Party rules to cater to interest groups?

3) What recourse do I really have if I express discontent with the current state of affairs? Will I be subjected to the same treatment?

4) Finally, what confidence do I have in a Leader who appears to be unwilling to uphold and defend the stated policy of the Party against attempts to flout and misrepresent it?

Either our Leader is the voice of the members, or not.

No doubt other members will balk at the airing of “dirty laundry” in the public domain in this way. Yet who are we to champion democracy in Wales if we cannot uphold democracy within our own Party? We are hypocrites and will not be trusted by the electorate. This state of affairs has gone to far and if the leadership of the Party cannot be relied upon to address it, then it’s up to us to do something about it as grass-roots members.

Dros Gymru,

James Michael Dunckley,
Gower Branch, Plaid Cymru.

Anonymous said...

I suggest, as an interim measure, before things go any further, that Elin Jones withdraws her complaint against Michael, and that he withdraws his against the four individuals.

No more vindictiveness, please.

The issue of party discipline needs to be thrashed out, in detail, at the next Conference, covering issues such as public pronouncements by elected members which misrepresent party policy and ensuring that future candidates for selection agree to follow party policy when dealing with the media.

Enough damage has already been done. My confidence in what's going on at Ty Gwynfor is already dented. It's beginning to sound like a party of an elite clique, of which I want no part, unless it's sorted, quickly.

I already feel like reaching for the phone right now and dialling 02920472272 to cancel my direct debit.

Neilyn said...

Sort this mess out Plaid, and quick. As things stand, I don't feel like stomping the streets on behalf of Jill Evans MEP in a few weeks time.

LeighRichards said...

hey well said anon 11.51...your comments and suggestions are the most sensible things ive read so far in this sorry and embarrassing debacle, and i would urge elin and michael to take the wise course of action you have suggested. then perhaps we can begin to sort this matter out like grown ups, else more loyal hardworking grassroots members will be feeling the way jim and neilyn understandably do.

Anonymous said...

Matters of a legal substance cannot be far away.

I suspect Plaid may find itself unable to carry on a political party unless and until certain key issues in the public domain are resolved and claims for compensation have been addressed.

Are these party matters or matters relating to a handful of individuals purporting to represent the party?

Anonymous said...

I very much wonder whether Leigh Richards' and anon 11.51's advice, if taken, would result in any change of heart amongst Plaid Cymru's "great and good". They are at it in so many areas, undermining one's faith.

I am most concerned about what has happened to the University of Wales. whereby the graduates, the largest body of UW's members, have been denied, quite unconstitutionally, any say in the matter of its break-up (following the Wigley Report - yes, that's the one!). Simon Thomas was instructed by Conference to bring the matter up in the Assembly. He has failed to do so in the way Conference passed (and the debate in Conference was riddled with interference from party officials, who did not adhere to the rules, but sought to undermine the proposal by a long-serving PC supporter).

Closure of rural schools, building unnecessary houses - all supported by PC councillors in Gwynedd and Anglesey. The rot has spread too far.


Anonymous said...

Those Left in Plaid believe that anyone/everyone living in Wales are Welsh, that's why we must build more houses for those who come over the border!!

kp said...

Anon, 12:04, There is no border ......... but you can happily build one if your countrymen agree (always assuming you have the money to afford and the necessary skills to build).

That's democracy.

I'd like to see a bit of democracy in Plaid Cymru too. Or must we always run to the English in search of fair play.

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