How Plaid Cymru Works - 3

This is the third 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. The first tranche is here, and the second is here.

From: Chris Franks
Sent: Thursday, 12 September 2013, 5:21pm
To: Michael Haggett
Subject: Complaint

Dear Michael

I refer to previous emails and would comment as follows.

The Hearing Panel may potentially deem your comments are damaging or potentially damaging to Plaid Cymru under Section 3.1.111 and that the matter requires further investigation under Section 3.3.2 and have appointed an Investigating Officer under Section 4.2.

At this stage I cannot comment further.

Best Wishes

Chris Franks

Chair Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel

From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Friday, 13 September 2013, 2:50am
To: Chris Franks
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Shaughan Feakes, Leanne Wood
Subject: Re: Panel Aelodaeth, Disgyblaeth a Safonau / Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel

Dear Chris

You are being defensive and evasive; which is a shame, because there is no need for it.

Your last email is rather muddled. Let me make the position clear. Under Standing Orders any complaint or allegation would in the first instance come to the attention of the Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel under clause 3.2. Under clause 4.1, a Hearing Panel is appointed by the MDSP to proceed with a specific case but, as set out in clause 3.9, it can only do so if the MDSP resolves that further investigation is required.

In order to reach that decision, the MDSP is required to evaluate the complaint or allegation under clause 3.3. If the MDSP has done this you as its Chair must, of necessity, be able to tell me what the grounds for the decision are. This means, at the very least, telling me what comment or comments of mine you have found to be of concern. The fact that you are unable to answer even this most basic question clearly demonstrates that the MDSP has acted prematurely, contrary to the procedure set out in Standing Orders.

Until or unless you are able to tell me what comment or comments have caused concern, and in what way it or they might potentially be deemed to be damaging or potentially damaging to the public reputation of Plaid Cymru, you cannot take matters further.

You are acting like a man closing his eyes and putting his foot hard down on the accelerator. It's a recipe for disaster. If you are determined to press ahead you must take two steps backwards and do things properly. Until or unless you do so there is no process or procedure to which I am a party or in which I can have any involvement.

Best regards

Michael Haggett

PS. I would remind you that I have not received a copy of the entire constitution.

From: Chris Franks
Sent: Monday, 16 September 2013, 11:19am
To: Michael Haggett
Subject: Complaint

Dear Michael

I refer to your email of 13 September 2013.

For the avoidance of doubt I take it that you acknowledge that you are the author of the Syniadau Blog. I will confirm that the complaint relates to your comments posted in the run up to the Ynys Mon By-Election of 2 August 2013. The specific complaint concerns the following statement.

“We do not need dishonest politicians like Rhun ap Iorwerth. If he's elected on Thursday he will be a liability to Plaid Cymru for years to come, because he clearly isn't interested in Plaid's policies for Wales. He is a cuckoo who has duped his way into our nest in order to follow a private agenda of his own, or the agenda of a narrow interest group within the party that refuses to accept democratic decisions made by the membership as a whole.”

“If Rhun wants clarity, then we need to be absolutely clear that he is misleading people on this issue by telling blatant lies.”

“If Rhun ap Iorwerth is elected, it would be a tragedy for Plaid Cymru, for Ynys Môn and for Wales.”

Shaughan Feakes as Investigation Officers will be contact you to go into the detail of the complaint and receive your comments in a comprehensive manner. It might be helpful if I provide his contact details should you wish to speak to him. ie (H) ----- ------ and (Mob) ----- ------

I would remind you that this matter is to be treated in a strictly confidential manner.

Best Wishes

Chris Franks

Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel

From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Monday, 16 September 2013, 6:08pm
To: Chris Franks
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Shaughan Feakes, Leanne Wood
Subject: Re: Complaint

Dear Chris

Before anything else, would you please send me a copy of the entire constitution rather than just one section from it. This is now the third time I have had to ask. And yes, I am happy to acknowledge that I am responsible for Syniadau, and that I am the author (MH) of all the articles in it except for a few guest posts ... although I am surprised that you should think there was any doubt about it; or why, if you had such doubts, you would not have raised the matter earlier.


Thank you for at last providing details of what comment or comments of mine the Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel has evaluated and found to be of concern. If you set up a Hearing Panel to consider these comments, you would also need to tell me who has been appointed to it so as to determine whether there are any conflicts of interest. If you yourself are on it, then in any correspondence you have with me you will need to be careful to distinguish in what capacity you are acting. The Hearing Panel will also be required, under Clause 4.3, to determine a timetable and inform all parties of what it is. If and when these details are provided, I will consider myself a party to the investigation and cooperate fully with it.

I have not yet heard anything from Shaughan Feakes, but will be happy to answer any questions he cares to send me. Because of the way in which you have sought to handle this matter before now, I must insist that things be done in writing so that there can be no doubt or ambiguity about what has been said. This might have been avoided if you had chosen, at least in the first instance, to adopt a less confrontational approach.

I think it would also be appropriate to say—especially as you have now said it twice and appear to be relying on it—that this matter is not confidential. Under Clause 9.1 the restriction is that no public statements should be made by any of the parties, but only by the Chair of the Party, and this restriction only applies for a certain period. Several people have and will be privately informed of what is happening.


As I warned you in both my previous emails, making the decision to formally investigate any comments I have made will of necessity extend the matter to those about whom these comments were made. You have now informed me which comments are of concern. The first two are contained in this post of 28 July 2013

     Rhun ap Iorwerth is lying about Wylfa B

and the third is in this post of 31 July 2013

     Purely a matter of luck

In so far as these comments relate to the matter of Rhun ap Iorwerth's dishonesty, I must first ask what other action and decisions the MSDP has taken about it. Would you please confirm whether or not you have evaluated what he said on Sunday Supplement on 28 July 2013 and on Pawb a'i Farn on 29 July 2013. If the MDSP has conducted itself with due diligence and in an even-handed manner, I would expect you to have done this as part of your general remit under Clause 3.2iii of Standing Orders. However you would, of necessity, have to do this in evaluating the complaint against me and making the decision to appoint a Hearing Panel.

For my part, I am now making a formal complaint against Rhun for lying about Plaid Cymru's policy on nuclear power on these two programmes, thus damaging the public reputation of the party. I would not ordinarily have chosen to do this because I believe public exposure of lies made in public is a more appropriate way of dealing with such people than making an internal complaint; but if you choose to instigate formal investigatory or disciplinary procedures against me, you leave me with no other choice. By making this complaint, I will have the right to be kept informed of the progress and outcome of the disciplinary process against Rhun.

The MDSP is, of course, free to evaluate this complaint and decide not to appoint a Hearing Panel to investigate it. But, as I said before, if the party is so two-faced that it takes action against a member for exposing senior members of the party when they tell lies, but does not take action against them for what they did to occasion such criticism, it will damage the public reputation of the party even more.

The party would also have to account for why you are taking action against me now for my criticism of Rhun, but took no action against me for what I said in criticism of Elfyn Llwyd, Bob Parry and Dafydd Elis-Thomas when they told essentially similar lies. The details and supporting evidence are in these posts on Syniadau:

     Elfyn Llwyd owes us an apology
     Correcting Confusion on Ynys Môn
     How can anyone trust such a blatant liar?

This matter is a running sore within the party and needs to be dealt with. I am therefore also making formal complaints against Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd for telling lies about party policy on nuclear power, thus damaging the public reputation of the party. Please keep me fully informed of the progress and outcome of the disciplinary process as it relates to all four.

For my part, I have no objection to the complaint against me and my own complaints being considered collectively by one Hearing Panel (subject to there being no conflict of interest involved) and by one Investigating Officer. However I am making separate formal complaints against each one individually, and will understand if the individuals concerned would like the complaints against them to be considered separately. I will need to be kept informed of the progress and outcome of each complaint, whether they are handled together or separately.


Finally, although the complaint against me appears to relate to what I said about Rhun ap Iorwerth's dishonesty, it is possible that other aspects of what I wrote in the comments you quoted are of concern. Please advise me whether this is the case because, if so, I might well make similar formal complaints on the grounds that it is not possible to properly consider my criticism of others without also considering the actions or statements that occasioned such criticism.

Thank you for making my day.

Best regards

Michael Haggett

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Phil said...

I admire your courage, Michael. It take balls to stand up to bully boys like Chris Franks. Tidy.

Anonymous said...

I think there's more ego flying in this than Rhun's dental floss.
We don't need another Caiach.

Anonymous said...

"Thank you for making my day"

Says it all. I have lost all respect for you, Michael.

Anonymous said...

Ah well you win some you lose some Michael....I am gaining a modicum of respect for you.

How childish can this man get....."I take it you are the author of Syniadau". What a prat.

I would just love it if they refused to investigate those that you complain about because there was only one complainant.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's 'good to talk'. Maybe the telephone could have helped during these dark days of September 2013.

Either way, I will be interested to know the exact role of Leanne Wood in this matter.

Welsh not British said...

The "make my day" line is a reference to the 2nd part of this saga and is, of course, a reference to Sudden Impact, part of the Dirty Harry series.

Effectively what MH was originally stating is that if they attack him then he will have no choice but to defend himself and in doing so cause them damage that could quite easily be avoided.

By then using it in the latest email he is simply telling them that they have now engaged him.

Plaid cannot be a party for everyone, it simply is not possible to a party for royalists and republicans, for Welsh nationalists and BritNats, for nuke lovers and greens. To try and do this opens them up to claims of hypocrisy and makes them as bad as the unionist parties that they occasionally claim to want Wales free from.

Rather than trying to slap his wrist they should be making him president so that he can ensure that the party is what it is meant to be.

MH said...

I'm not sure that bully is the right word to describe Chris, 01:15. Nincompoop is a word that springs more readily to mind. But wait to see how the story unfolds, for there's more to it than that.


As it happens, I'm going to mention what happened to Sian Caiach later, 01:47.


Actually, Chris's "I take it that you are the author of Syniadau" is quite significant. In this whole affair, it was the closest that Chris, or anyone else, came to asking me a question about what I wrote.


I agree that it's "good to talk". As Gwyn noted in a comment in part 2, standing orders give the MDSP the option of "mediatory intervention" rather than going straight to formal disciplinary proceedings. I would have been very happy to talk things through then.

However, because the first step taken was to move straight to a formal procedure, and because getting straight answers from Chris was like getting blood out of a stone, I made the decision that it was in no-one's interest for there to be any doubt or ambiguity about who said what and when. With hindsight, it was a wise decision to make.


Thanks Stu. I'm glad that "Go ahead, make my day" ("Go ahead, Punk, make my day" isn't the original) didn't go over everyone's head, but I have to wonder whether it went over Chris's.

Anonymous said...

given sian caiach has been brought into this discussion i would just like to point out that sian caiach is someone who made enormous personal sacrifices for her principles - she was hounded out of her job in the health service because she exposed the way private patients were getting preferential treatment in the welsh nhs.

my understanding of events is that sian caiach was sadly later subject to disciplinary action by the then plaid chair (john dixon) because of untrue claims she had leaked internal voting figures to the western mail and because her 16 year old daughter rightly chastised the then plaid leadership over its decision to renege on party policy over student top up fees.

it goes without saying that sian caiach was treated pretty shabbily by plaid cymru - a shabby treatment that would come back to haunt them of course in llanelli in 2011. i do hope that plaid is not set to repeat the mistakes it made over sian with regards to michael.

Anonymous said...

You're right - you don't need another Sian Caiach - you need another 500 of 'em!

As a politician, someone who is prepared to act on principal, against her personal interests, to face down wrongdoing and to hell with the consequences, is actually one hell of an asset. If Plaid were too stupid to keep her, there's no sense in crying about it now.

Anonymous said...

The lack of esteem in which I have always held Chris Franks just continues to grow...

Dai said...

At the risk of feeding your ego, what is it about Chris Franks' initial approach that was "confrontational"? (You suggest a "less confrontational approach" would have been better)
Do you think that your own writings, both last summer and in the course of the email correspondence set out here in its numerous tranches, might have benefitted from being "less confrontational"?

black_tiger said...

you were so brave. i admire the courage you have in your system.

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