Submission of Evidence

This is the final submission of written evidence to the Appeal Panel referred to in the previous email. For those who prefer it, a pdf version is available here.

Alun Cox
Chair of Appeal Panel

 
25 January 2014

 
Dear Alun

Final Submission of Written Evidence

This is my final submission of written evidence relating to the appeal against the so-called verdict of the Hearing Panel on 3 December 2013. It is essentially the same as the preliminary submission I made on 20 January for the purpose of disclosure, but with revisions that reflect other evidence which has been disclosed to me. I did not receive any questions about the contents of the preliminary submission.

As well as this pdf, the package of evidence also comprises the following file and links to blog posts on Syniadau and Blog Menai:

Complete email correspondence.eml

Rhun ap Iorwerth and Angharad Mair – Syniadau, 24 June 2013
Rhun ap Iorwerth and nuclear power – Syniadau, 30 June 2013
Listening to the people – Syniadau, 5 July 2013
Buy a hat, Martin – Syniadau, 15 July 2013
Making it a little closer – Syniadau, 15 July 2013
A political liability – Syniadau, 20 July 2013
Rhun ap Iorwerth is lying about Wylfa B – Syniadau, 28 July 2013
Purely a matter of luck – Syniadau, 31 July 2013
Repairing the damage – Syniadau, 3 August 2013
Rhun ap Iorwerth and Rod Richards – Syniadau, 15 August 2013

Elfyn Llwyd owes us an apology – Syniadau, 3 June 2011
Correcting confusion on Ynys Môn – Syniadau, 22 October 2011
How can anyone trust such a blatant liar? – Syniadau, 10 February 2012

Syniadau a Wylfa B – Blog Menai, 31 July 2013
Ymgais ryfedd awdur Syniadau ... – Blog Menai, 4 August 2013

It is particularly important that the eml and links to the blog posts are circulated to members of the Appeal Panel and other parties in digital form, rather than printed out. This is the only way that the links to other blogs, media articles, documents, videos and audio clips can be properly accessed. My evidence specifically includes these.

It is not my intention to attend the appeal in person, as travelling is not easy for me. However I am fully prepared to answer any questions and provide any additional information to members of the Appeal Panel at any time, including the evening of the meeting. But I must also continue to insist that it is done in writing, so that there is no room for doubt about either the questions or my answers.

Yours sincerely

Michael Haggett

1.  An Outline Summary of Events

 
1.1   In this first section of evidence, I am setting out the events relating to the disciplinary process against me as they happened, from my perspective. This is important, since it would be all too easy for other members of the MDSP to assume that I knew things which I did not know about, because Chris continually refused to answer my questions and Shaughan did not contact me at all.

I have taken care to ensure that every aspect of this matter has been conducted in writing precisely so that there can be no dispute whatsoever about who said what and when they said it. The complete chain of my correspondence with all parties is appended to this submission of written evidence and forms part of it. This outline summary is intended to act as a guide to help members of the Appeal Panel and others to navigate through this evidence.

 
1.2   On 9 September I was informed in an email from Chris that a complaint had been made against me by another (as yet unnamed) member of Plaid Cymru regarding articles I had posted on Syniadau about the Ynys Môn by-election. No details of the complaint were provided, and Chris did not say what aspects of what I had written were of concern. However was told in that email that Shaughan had been appointed as Investigating Officer and would contact me directly “as appropriate”.

Precisely what Chris meant by “as appropriate” was not clarified. As it happened, Shaughan did not ever make contact with me, even though I took care to copy him in on all correspondence, leaving him with no excuse for not doing so.

 
1.3   Chris sent me a copy of the new Standing Orders for Membership, Discipline and Standards (SOs) on 11 September. By doing so, it is absolutely clear that the procedure as set out in these SOs was to be adopted and followed. At no time did Chris ever indicate that he wished to dispense with, waive, or vary any part of the procedure … and neither did I.

 
1.4   In my reply of 11 September I noted that the procedures set out in SOs were not being followed. Specifically, I noted that Section 3 requires there to be grounds for initiating disciplinary or investigatory procedures, and that the MDSP would therefore need to set out these grounds before appointing a Hearing Panel.

 
1.5   In his reply of 12 September, Chris told me:

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.

This answer avoided several points. My question had been to ask on what grounds the MDSP had decided to set up a Hearing Panel, not on what the Hearing Panel might decide. Nor did he specify what comments of mine he was referring to. I therefore replied:

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.

 
1.6   On 13 September Chris told me that the complaint concerned “the following statement” (although these were in fact three distinct quotes from two different articles I had written):

“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.”

Chris made no attempt to explain how or why what I had written could be “damaging or potentially damaging to Plaid Cymru”. However he did say that Shaughan would contact me “to go into the detail of the complaint and receive your comments in a systematic manner”. I would repeat that Shaughan never did this.

It is perfectly obvious that I could not be expected make any comments to Shaughan about the complaint unless or until I had been sent a copy of it.

 
1.7   Although Chris had not told me how what I had written could damage or potentially damage the party, it appeared that any concern was likely to centre on my criticism of Rhun for his dishonesty. My reasons for calling him a liar were made perfectly clear in this post on Syniadau dated 28 July:

        Rhun ap Iorwerth is lying about Wylfa B

There can be no doubt whatsoever that what Rhun said on Sunday Supplement on 28 July is untrue. Plaid Cymru’s policy does not make any distinction between new nuclear power stations on new sites and new nuclear power stations on existing sites. We are totally opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Wales. I quoted our policy, as decided at Conference, in full so as to demonstrate beyond any doubt that Rhun was misleading people about our policy by telling this lie.

As an aside, one of the more bizarre statements in Shaughan’s so-called investigation report is that, “the full text of that motion is not mentioned in that extract”. As anyone who actually reads the post can plainly see, there is a [click to display] box which brings up the full text. This is just one example of Shaughan making a deliberately incorrect statement that was designed to mislead. As anyone who reads Syniadau will know, I always back up statements of fact with hard evidence.

My purpose in exposing Rhun’s lie was to stand up for the party in the face of what was clearly an attempt to misrepresent and undermine our policy. I certainly did not single Rhun out for criticism, for I had been equally critical of Elfyn Llwyd, Bob Parry and Dafydd Elis-Thomas when they told essentially the same lie before.

 
1.8   I had made it perfectly clear to Chris in my email of 11 September that if the MDSP chose to proceed with disciplinary action against me, it would of necessity involve taking disciplinary action against those I had criticized. This is the relevant section:

For my part, I would repeat my warning. A complaint against me by one member of the party will not make the party as a whole a public laughing stock. But if the party itself chooses to instigate formal investigatory or disciplinary procedures against me, that investigation will of necessity have to cover the actions and statements of those I have criticized, which makes them subject to disciplinary procedures for damaging the public reputation of the party.

So go ahead, make my day. The people I have criticized should be held to account, and it is high time the party took action against them. But if the party is so two-faced that it takes action against a member for exposing what they have done, 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.

However, because Chris seemed intent on pressing on regardless, I wrote to him again on 16 September. In the first section I noted that:

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.

Chris refused to do any of these things, despite being reminded about them on many occasions over the next few weeks. I was not told who was on the Hearing Panel. The Hearing Panel did not set out a timetable for the investigation, and Chris did not make it clear in what capacity he was acting in subsequent correspondence.

The second section of my email of 16 September needs to be quoted in full:

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.

 
1.9   Chris sent me a belated acknowledgment of this email on 24 September, but did not answer any of the questions.

I listed the questions which he had not answered in my email of 24 September, and had to remind him that he had not answered on 30 September, 7 October and 14 October.

 
1.10   Because Chris continually refused to answer my questions, I set a deadline in the last of these four emails telling him that I would take steps to have him removed as Chair of the MDSP if he continued to be evasive.

This, at last, did prompt a reply from him that same day (14 October) … but his reply still did not answer a single one of the questions I had asked.

 
1.11    On 19 October I was surprised to receive an email from Chris telling me that “the DMS Panel” had considered the report of the Investigating Officer and concluded that there were grounds to convene a formal hearing into the complaints against me. In that email Chris informed me that the original complaint had been made by Elin, and included a very highly-edited version of it which (as I was later to discover) omitted several of her key points.

It is particularly worth noting that Chris expected me to attend a formal hearing without me being given:

1.   a copy of the original complaint – even though he had previously been told that Shaughan would contact me to give me the details of it, which he never did

2.   a copy of the investigation report – which had apparently been completed on 18 September, despite the fact that no timetable had ever been set out for such an investigation, in direct contravention of Clause 4.3 of SOs; and the fact that this so-called investigation had not seen fit to ask me a single question, in direct contravention of Clause 4.2 of SOs

3.   any clear statement about the case I was expected to answer

 
1.12   It was obvious to me that the whole disciplinary process had now descended into farce. So at this point I wrote to Leanne to complain about the way this matter had been handled, and to insist that Chris be removed from his position. This prompted a flurry of activity in which Dafydd, as Chair of the party, was asked to intervene to ensure that all procedures had been properly followed and that everyone was treated properly and fairly.

As a result, I was sent various pieces of information on 23 October, including a copy of the complaint and the so-called investigation report. Chris also answered a few, but still by no means all, of my outstanding questions.

 
1.13    In my email of 28 October to Dafydd I not only set out in what way, and indeed why, the process followed by Chris was flawed, but also how the situation could still be resolved in a fair and even-handed manner. This is the relevant section:

A will now turn to the other matters. The package of information I have been given contains numerous documents. Most of these are relatively uncontentious, so I will focus on the document which is of most serious concern, namely the Investigating Officer's report.

As I said before, it is bizarre that a so-called investigation has taken place in which I was not asked a single question. Page 1 of the report contains the extraordinary statement that, "Michael Haggett has not responded to my several requests to speak with him." I have not received any such request.

Chris told me on 9 September that Shaughan would contact me, and said the same again on 16 September. In my reply of 16 September I specifically noted that he had not yet done so, but that I would be happy to answer any questions he cared to send me. In my email of 24 September I repeated that Shaughan had not been in contact with me.

The question that must now be asked is why what I said, more than once, was deliberately ignored. The result is an investigation that was fundamentally flawed because no-one asked me any questions, despite the clear obligation set out in clause 4.2 for it to make enquiries of all parties. Clause 4.3 requires that a timetable for the investigation be determined at the outset, and for all parties to be informed of what it is. I repeatedly asked Chris to provide this information, but he refused to do so. If he had, the problem would have been flagged up and could have been dealt with weeks ago.

I must therefore insist that a new investigation is held. It would take far too long to list all the other inadequacies of the investigation as reflected its report, but this is the most important of them: The central question is whether what Rhun said on Sunday Supplement and Pawb a'i Farn about Plaid's nuclear policy—specifically that it makes a distinction between new nuclear power stations on new sites and new nuclear power stations on existing nuclear sites—is or is not true. If Rhun lied, there can be no possible objection to me calling him a liar. It is a simple matter of fact that can easily be ascertained by competent investigation. Everything hinges on this, yet the report skirts round the issue. The new investigation must properly address this question.

Because of what has happened, it is now foolish to believe that a fair and balanced investigation can be carried out by anyone within Plaid Cymru. Clause 4.2 of Standing Orders makes provision for an external investigator to be appointed in exceptional circumstances like these, and I would insist this is now done. I believe it would be best if the investigation concerning me, and the investigations concerning Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd were all conducted by one person from outside the party.

The flawed investigation is only one of many problems with the way the process has been handled. At every stage, Chris has been defensive and evasive, and it is now becoming clear why he was doing so. It is quite appalling that the Hearing Panel was presented with a completely one-sided document that takes no account whatsoever of anything I had to say, but it was made even worse by giving the impression that I was refusing to say anything. As if that wasn't bad enough, it is clear from Chris's email of 23 October that the other members of the Hearing Panel had not even been given copies of my correspondence with Chris, and were therefore denied the opportunity to consider what I had to say in those emails.

Through these actions, Chris engineered a situation in which the other members of the Hearing Panel were asked to make a decision about whether there was a case for me to answer without being presented with the evidence that would enable them to make a proper decision. This is a double-dose of blatant wrongdoing on his part, and is much more serious than Chris being incompetent and evasive. As a result, what little confidence I might have had in Chris before has completely disappeared, and I must again insist he is replaced by someone who will do a better job.

 
1.14   Amazingly, Dafydd completely ignored these blatant irregularities. As I later found out, he was severely compromised as a result of the fact that his wife, Lisa Turnbull, was a member of the Hearing Panel; therefore he could hardly be expected to make an impartial or objective judgement about the way the process had been handled. This conflict of interest should have been declared, and it is of considerable concern that it was not … this, however, is a matter that should be dealt with in a different forum rather than as part of this appeal.

Although Alun, in his email of 15 December, said that Dafydd’s role was “largely to confirm that the responsibility for the conduct of the hearing was in the hands of the Chair of the MDSP”, this misses the point. Dafydd was asked to intervene because I had raised the matter of how badly the disciplinary process had been handled by Chris, and had asked him to be replaced by someone who would do a better job.

From my point of view, I need only point out that I took every reasonable step to flag up these irregularities, with the aim of ensuring that a fair hearing could be held. Someone in a senior position in Plaid Cymru could and should have stepped in to ensure that what had not been done properly was re-addressed and done properly. It is a matter of shame that no-one did.

 
1.15   Because no-one intervened, Chris went ahead with a so-called hearing anyway. In my email of 22 November I once again said that he could not do this unless or until the previous stages in the disciplinary process as set out in SOs had been properly completed, and unless or until I knew what case I was expected to answer.

With regard to the second of these points, it should be noted that the matters addressed in Shaughan’s so-called investigation report were more extensive than had been mentioned in Elin’s complaint, and that Elin’s complaint included more matters than Chris had either initially or eventually indicated were of concern to the MDSP. It was therefore perfectly reasonable for me to be told exactly what case I was expected to answer, but I received no answer. Without that information I was unable to present a defence.

 
1.16   The so-called hearing took place on 3 December. It should be noted (because Chris gave the opposite impression in his email of 5 December) that I had, from the very beginning, said I would be happy to answer any questions that anybody wished to put to me at any time. And I specifically said in my email of 27 November that I would be willing to do that even on the evening that the Hearing Panel met, if they wanted to send me any. No-one on the Hearing Panel saw fit to ask me any questions.

It is worth pointing out that no-one, at any point of this farce (at evaluation by the MDSP, during the so-called investigation, when deciding to hold a formal hearing, or at the so-called hearing itself) has asked me one single question about what I wrote on Syniadau. The closest thing to a question was on 16 September, when Chris “took it” that I acknowledged I was the author of Syniadau. I was happy to confirm it.

 
1.17   I was informed of Hearing Panel’s “verdict” in a letter from Chris emailed to me on 5 December. In it Chris said that the panel had considered the “length and breadth” of the complaints against me, and praised the “considerable” investigation report compiled by Shaughan.

However, one thing that is very conspicuous by its absence from that email is any mention of any point I had raised in my email correspondence. It was simply ignored. This is what I said about it in my email of 11 December:

However because the email of 5 December does not attempt to address or answer any of the points I raised, it seems obvious that they weren't considered. Any procedure that refuses to consider or answer the points I have made is clearly unjust.

Instead, the email contains a series of assertions which demonstrate that the Hearing Panel had not considered the central issue, but had set up a “straw man” to attack instead. This is from the third part of my email of 11 December:

As a third, and again separate, matter I would like to comment on some of the unfounded assertions mentioned in the letter of 5 December.

The letter says that my comments "do not contribute anything to a proper and mature political debate regarding whether a Plaid Cymru prospective politician had upheld, or strayed away from Plaid Cymru's official policy on nuclear power." This deliberately misses the point. I called Rhun a liar not because of whether he agreed or disagreed with party policy, but because he lied about what our party policy is ... in the same way as Elfyn Llwyd, Bob Parry and Dafydd Elis-Thomas had done before him. This is the one fundamental fact that has been deliberately and consistently ignored throughout this process. Rhun told a barefaced lie. How then can any reasonable person object to me calling him a liar or saying that he was misleading people? Of course the truth hurts, but Rhun brought it on himself. It is ridiculous to take action against me when it was Rhun who lied.

Cai Larsen is quoted as saying, "But the issue I’d like to focus on is this – there’s little we can learn from Labour, but discipline is an exception. They have their arguments in a room and they pull together in public. Some of us have a great deal to learn from that." Quite why Cai's opinion is so important is beyond me, but my reply to what Cai said was not even considered. Again this clearly shows that the Hearing Panel did not take the trouble to read through the evidence, but instead relied on a flawed report that quite deliberately only presented one side of the story. But if namedropping carries so much weight with the Hearing Panel, why did they ignore the comments made on Blog Menai by people, including members of the party, who supported me? Once again, they placed undue reliance on the selective version presented to them in Shaughan's joke of a report rather than consider all the evidence.

The letter also talks about a "perceived" lack of discipline within Plaid Cymru. It's much, much worse than that. There can be no doubt whatsoever that there is a lack of discipline within Plaid Cymru, and other parties and political commentators have mocked us about it for years. But who are those that lack discipline? Certainly not me. I have consistently upheld Plaid Cymru's policy on nuclear power in the face of systematic attempts to misrepresent it over several years. On this occasion, Rhun was the one that went against the party, not me. He was the one who lied about Plaid Cymru's policy in an attempt to justify himself after he eventually admitted he was pro-Wylfa B. He was the one who said he would rebel against his party colleagues if the matter came to a vote. Yet everyone involved in this sorry process has not taken the trouble to read and listen to the evidence I presented in Syniadau ... or, if they did, deliberately ignored it. This lack of discipline by a handful of mavericks within the party such as Elfyn, Bob, Dafydd and now Rhun is a running sore that should have been dealt with long before now. This is why Plaid Cymru is a laughing stock, and is now making itself even more of one. I could not be silent about this, because silence implies consent. That is a lesson that others in the party should have learned, but they were too spineless stand up for what we have agreed as a party. People like me have had to shoulder that burden instead ... but my shoulders are quite up to the job.

And finally, there is nothing personal or vindictive in what I've said about Rhun. I have never met or spoken to him. I have simply responded to what he said on his blog and to the media using exactly the same standards of truth and professionalism that characterize everything I write on Syniadau. I have not singled out Rhun. I pointed out that by lying he misrepresented our party and brought it into disrepute, but I did the same when Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd told similar lies. So why the double standards now? What makes Rhun so much more special than Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd? That is one of the outstanding questions to which I have never received an answer. Once again, senior members of Plaid Cymru are playing favourites to the detriment of the party as a whole and what we stand for.

2.  The Specific Grounds for Appeal

 
2.1   I set out the grounds for this appeal in my email to Rhuanedd of 11 December. The relevant section is:

I have received an email from Chris Franks dated 5 December which is included with the complete chain of previous correspondence below.

It is perfectly clear that standing orders have not been adhered to and that the decision of the Hearing Panel is therefore invalid. I need only repeat what I said before in my email of 22 November:

You cannot move to an investigation unless you set out a timetable for it and inform all parties of what it is (Clause 4.3) and that any investigation must make enquires of all parties (Clause 4.2). Until a proper investigation has been conducted the Hearing Panel cannot resolve whether or not there is a case for me to answer (Clause 4.4). If they were then to decide that there was a case for me to answer, I would need to be informed of what that case was before I could answer it at a formal hearing.

Because of this I am registering an appeal to you as Chief Executive of the party (Clause 6.7) on the grounds that the procedure adopted by the Hearing Panel was flawed and therefore unjust (Clause 6.3i).

 
2.2   This email also addressed other matters. However these are not all of immediate relevance to this appeal, and I will therefore only quote from it as necessary to illustrate in what specific ways the procedure was flawed and therefore unjust. There are nine in total.

 
2.3   In my opinion, a major part of what went wrong in this disciplinary process springs from the difference between the old procedure and the new one set out in the current SOs. As explained in my email of 13 September, the new procedure does not centre around a complaint or allegation; instead, as set out in Clause 3.2, a complaint or allegation is merely one of a variety of ways in which a matter of concern may be brought to the attention of the MDSP.

The MDSP (not the Hearing Panel) is required under Clause 3.3 to evaluate any complaint or allegation before deciding on a course of action. I therefore had every right to expect an answer to my question about what, precisely, the MDSP found to be of concern. I received only the very vaguest of answers to this question. It therefore seems clear that the MDSP did not properly evaluate the complaint; for if they had done so, Chris would have been able to give me a straight answer to my question. This is the first way in which the procedure was flawed.

 
2.4   After the MDSP appoints a Hearing Panel, that Hearing Panel is required to appoint an Investigating Officer, to determine a timetable for the completion of the investigation report, and to inform all parties of it, as set out in Clause 4.3. This timetable was never set, and Chris refused to answer me when I asked him about it. This is the second way in which the process was flawed.

From the date of the report, it is now clear that the so-called investigation was completed on 18 September … while I was still asking when it was going to be started. If either Chris or Shaughan (who was copied in on all correspondence) had the honesty to tell me that it had been completed, the problem could have been flagged up and dealt with.

Chris only attempted to respond to this question in his email of 23 October. But instead of answering my question about the timetable for the investigation, he gave a date for submission of evidence to the hearing. This was, again, a deliberate evasion of what had been a perfectly reasonable question.

I was eventually told, on 14 January, that Shaughan had originally been asked to complete the report by 23 September. If this is true, then there would have been no problem whatsoever in telling me that date, for I had asked about it on numerous occasions. To my mind, this certainly casts doubts on the credibility of what Chris has now said (i.e. only after speaking with Alun on 5 January) but that is a separate matter. The indisputable fact is that Clause 4.3 clearly requires all parties to be informed of the timetable, and this was deliberately ignored.

 
2.5   Clause 4.2 of SOs specifically requires the investigating officer to make enquires of all parties. Shaughan did not do so. This is the third way in which the process was flawed.

In fact, the matter is very much more serious than a simple failure to ask me any questions. The first page of Shaughan’s so called report contains the extraordinary statement that, “Michael Haggett has not responded to my several requests to speak with him.” I did not receive any such request.

I do not know what prompted him to say this, and it is not relevant anyway. In the absence of any explanation, I can only assume he was trying to be clever with words, using the word “speak” in response to the fact that I had insisted in my email of 16 September that things be done in writing so that there could be no doubt or ambiguity about what had been said. Shaughan neither spoke to me nor emailed me at any time, but if he had spoken to me I would firmly but politely have asked him to put what he wanted to say in writing for that reason. And if he had tried to phone me but failed to get through, the normal, natural reaction would surely have been to send me an email to say so, for I was careful to copy him in on all correspondence. He didn’t.

Additionally, it would have been impossible for Shaughan to “go into the detail of the complaint and receive [my] comments in a systematic manner”, as Chris said he would do in his email of 13 September, without emailing me a copy of the complaint. What did Shaughan intend to do? Read out the complaint over the phone and expect me to take dictation? And how could I be expected to provide him with my comments “in a systematic manner” unless I set out those comments in writing? I would not expect him to take dictation from me any more than I could be expected to take dictation from him.

In short, Shaughan’s statement is patently ridiculous and deliberately misleading. I did not receive any request asking me to speak with him, and was not asked any questions. In fact I would go further, and note that no-one, at any point of this farce (at evaluation by the MDSP, during the so-called investigation, when deciding to hold a formal hearing, or at the hearing itself) has seen fit to ask me one single question about what I wrote.

 
2.5a   [Added information in response to Shaughan’s submission of written evidence, received on 20 January.]

What happened now makes a little more sense. Shaughan was trying to contact me using out-of-date information. The BT landline number he tried has not been mine since early 2012. It has probably been reassigned since then, and whoever put the phone down on him probably didn’t appreciate getting repeated calls from someone they’d never heard of. The mobile number he tried is that of an old Virgin pay-as-you-go phone that I still have, but now hardly ever use.

Shaughan says he was given procedural advice by the party’s legal advisors which recommended that he speak to me and others by phone rather than by email or letter. It is perhaps worth noting that—at least in so far as is evident from what Shaughan said—it was only a recommendation, not something that prohibited him from contacting me by email.

The legal advice is interesting. I have no doubt that it is very sound advice to give to any person or organization that doesn't want to be held to account for what they say, because they can then claim they didn’t say it or said something different. And, equally, if the other person was misrepresented, there is also no way that they could subsequently prove they said something different. Many responsible companies and organizations record telephone conversations as a matter of good practice precisely to avoid any potential disputes over what was said, and every company or organization I have worked with would expect people to at least keep file notes of important conversations. It is therefore quite bizarre that people in positions of responsibility in Plaid Cymru would choose to do the exact opposite.

The question is why on earth any person or organization would not want to be accountable for what they say. It illustrates a huge gap between, on the one hand, my openness and willingness to commit everything I have to say to writing; and, on the other hand, the distinct lack of candour or willingness to be held to account from Chris and Shaughan. I am now more glad than ever that I made the decision to ensure that all my dealings on this matter were done in writing and only in writing.

In the light of what Shaughan has said, I have revised my previous statement (in the final paragraph of section 2.5) that he “had no intention” of asking me any questions. Clearly he did attempt to contact me. However, as seen from my perspective, I was completely unaware of it. I would highlight what I said in section 2.5 of my evidence:

And if he had tried to phone me but failed to get through, the normal, natural reaction would surely have been to send me an email to say so, for I was careful to copy him in on all correspondence. He didn’t.

I would have thought a short email saying something like, “I tried to contact you by phone, and left a voice message. Would you please phone me”, would not have compromised him in any way. At least I would then have known he was trying to contact me. But even if Shaughan felt that he couldn’t email me on principle, because of the legal advice, I’d have expected him to have spoken to or emailed Chris about it. Did he do so? If no email or file note of a conversation about it exists (which is what has been claimed) the answer is obviously no. Or will Shaughan now claim that he did raise the matter with Chris?

Of course it’s very likely that I would still have insisted on things being done in writing. It would depend on how convinced I was by whatever reasons I was given for wanting to do it only by phone. But nobody even bothered to tell me that there were such concerns about committing things to writing, let alone why there were such concerns.

I also find it amazing that these attempts to contact me have only now come to light, some four months after the event. I did everything I could to flag up the problem. If the matter had been addressed at the time it could have been resolved at the time. But by refusing to tell me anything and pressing on regardless, I was deliberately excluded from the investigation.

 
2.6   Although it is only necessary for me to demonstrate that the procedure followed was flawed for this appeal to be successful, I am prepared to go further and demonstrate the effect of this aspect of the procedure not being conducted properly.

The investigation is a critical part of the new procedure as set out in SOs. It is important because the investigating officer is in a position to, and required to, make enquiries in a way that is not possible for other parties. Specifically, I have no power to ask questions of people like Elin and Rhun in the way that Shaughan did. This means that there is no way that I, or anyone else, can make up for a failure to follow certain lines of inquiry at a subsequent stage of the disciplinary process.

As a result of being shut out of the investigation, certain lines of inquiry that would have been opened up if I had not been shut out were completely ignored. The most obvious question I would have expected Shaughan to ask Rhun is where he got the idea that Plaid’s had a policy of supporting new nuclear power stations on existing sites from, and whether he now realized that what he had said at the time was untrue.

But instead of asking Rhun to account for the lie he told on Sunday Supplement and repeated on Pawb a’i Farn, Shaughan’s so-called report included a statement about what Rhun then thought (i.e. in early September, well after the election) which was completely opposite to what he had said in public during the campaign. This is the relevant paragraph:

I have spoken with Rhun and he has confirmed that he is against nuclear energy, but if it is imposed by Westminster he will ensure that Ynys Môn gets the maximum benefit of the job and economic opportunities.

I would only note that if Rhun had said this at the time, he would have received praise from me for supporting Plaid Cymru’s policy rather than criticism for misrepresenting it. On top of this, if Rhun had said this during the campaign, he would probably not have been put under the pressure that resulted in him lying in the way he did.

It is necessary to point out what Rhun actually said during the campaign. This is the exchange between Rhun and Vaughan Roderick on Sunday Supplement on 28 September:

VR:  But, to be clear, Plaid Cymru want decisions over power stations to be devolved. If Wylfa B was on the table in the Assembly, and you had to vote yes or no, which way would you vote?

RhapI:  I am being quite clear, and I can't make it any clearer: I am saying yes to Wylfa B.

VR:  But your party doesn't say that.

RhapI:  Plaid Cymru is a party, unlike many of the other parties, that actually discusses decisions and decides what's best for Wales. You know that there's been a policy in Plaid Cymru going back 40 years where we've said, "Develop nuclear power stations on the sites where there are nuclear power stations in the past." It's nothing new for a member of Plaid Cymru, and somebody who wants to be an elected member for Plaid Cymru, to say let's support the continuation of nuclear power generation on the site where that has been happening for decades.

VR:  I'm sorry, that does sound an awful lot like having your cake in Dwyfor Meirionnydd and Ynys Môn and eating it elsewhere.

Amazingly, Shaughan does not quote this exchange in full. He only quotes a small part of it, deliberately omitting those parts that would show beyond doubt not only that Rhun became outspokenly opposed to Plaid Cymru’s policy in the latter stages of the campaign, but that he would also go as far as to vote against his colleagues in Plaid if given an opportunity to do so.

I need hardly remind the Appeal Panel that Elin’s original complain of 30 August had accused me of showing “no party loyalty or respect”, yet it was in fact Rhun who was disloyal to the party he was supposed to represent, and Rhun who showed no respect to the delegates who have voted repeatedly at recent Conferences for a policy of being totally opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Wales, without making any distinction between new nuclear power stations on new sites and new nuclear power stations on existing sites.

Elin also said that, “Any attempt to undermine your own party’s candidate and campaign during an election period should not be tolerated by this party.” The obvious reply is that any attempt by a candidate to undermine their own party and mislead people by telling blatant lies about its policy should not be tolerated by this party. For my part, I certainly will not tolerate such behaviour without speaking out. The party as a whole is much more important than a maverick candidate intent on following his own agenda rather than that of the party he is supposed to represent.

In short, Shaughan’s so called investigation made no attempt to objectively and impartially “examine the facts of the case”, as is required by Clause 4.2 of SOs. I will therefore highlight what I said in the second part of my email to Rhuanedd on 11 December:

By attaching his name to this joke of a document, he [Shaughan] must bear personal responsibility for it and fully deserves to be reprimanded. However I would not want to be overly critical of his behaviour. As someone who works in Ty Gwynfor, he was severely compromised and probably put into an impossible position, and it is only fair that these mitigating circumstances are taken into account.

Nevertheless, the end result is that Plaid Cymru staff resources have been improperly used to prepare and present evidence in favour of one member of the party, while deliberately and completely ignoring the right of another member of the party to receive the same consideration. I had every right to expect that an equivalent amount of time and effort should have been given to investigating and presenting evidence that would show that what I said about Rhun's untruthfulness was justified.

I must therefore insist that a new investigation is held. It would take far too long to list all the other inadequacies of the investigation as reflected its report, but this is the most important of them: The central question is whether what Rhun said on Sunday Supplement and Pawb a'i Farn about Plaid's nuclear policy—specifically that it makes a distinction between new nuclear power stations on new sites and new nuclear power stations on existing nuclear sites—is or is not true. If Rhun lied, there can be no possible objection to me calling him a liar. It is a simple matter of fact that can easily be ascertained by competent investigation. Everything hinges on this, yet the report skirts round the issue. The new investigation must properly address this question.

Because of what has happened, it is now foolish to believe that a fair and balanced investigation can be carried out by anyone within Plaid Cymru. Clause 4.2 of Standing Orders makes provision for an external investigator to be appointed in exceptional circumstances like these, and I would insist this is now done. I believe it would be best if the investigation concerning me, and the investigations concerning Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd were all conducted by one person from outside the party.

I would repeat that it is only necessary for me to demonstrate that the procedure followed was flawed for this appeal to be successful. This section has been inserted to illustrate the injustice caused by failure to follow SOs at the specific request of Alun in his email of 2 January. I thought it was a reasonable request, and am happy to oblige, but it is somewhat of a detour from the matter at hand, which is whether or not the procedure followed was flawed.

 
2.7   Turning back to the flaws in the procedure, it is clear from Chris’s email of 19 October that the Hearing Panel must have met to consider the so-called investigation report, and concluded that there were grounds to convene a formal hearing.

No written record of this meeting (which must have taken place sometime between 18 September and 19 October, but probably towards the end of that period) was kept, despite the requirement for the Hearing Panel to keep such records. This is the fourth way in way in which the process was flawed.

However, despite the lack of a written record of that meeting, it is possible to piece together some aspects of what happened.

 
2.8   Chris presented this report to the other two members of the Hearing Panel knowing that it contained a blatant factual inaccuracy: namely that I had “not responded to [Shaughan’s] several requests to speak with him”. Chris knew full well from my emails of 16 and 24 September that Shaughan had not been in contact with me and that I was still waiting for him to do so.

It was therefore an act of deliberate wrongdoing on his part to present this so-called report to them. This is the fifth way in which the process was flawed.

I would again remind the Appeal Panel that I did everything that could reasonably be expected of me to draw attention to the fact Shaughan had not contacted me, but that I would be happy to answer any questions he or anyone else wanted to put to me.

 
2.9   To make matters worse, it is clear from Chris’s email of 23 October that he had not kept other members of the MDSP (which would obviously include the two other members of the Hearing Panel) informed of the correspondence between him and me. He specifically said that he would only “give a full report to other members at the hearing”. This is the sixth way in which the process was flawed.

In normal circumstances, it could be argued that the only requirement set out in Clause 4.4 is for the Hearing Panel to consider the investigating officer’s report. That’s fair enough. But in normal circumstances the investigation would have been conducted properly, making enquiries of all parties instead of just some, and the report would therefore have reflected this. It would also, if Shaughan had in fact contacted me to “receive your comments in a systematic manner” as Chris said he would in his email of 13 September, have included my comments.

 
2.10   To show the cumulative effect of these failings, I would highlight what I said in my email of 28 October to Dafydd:

It is quite appalling that the Hearing Panel was presented with a completely one-sided document that takes no account whatsoever of anything I had to say, but it was made even worse by giving the impression that I was refusing to say anything. As if that wasn't bad enough, it is clear from Chris's email of 23 October that the other members of the Hearing Panel had not even been given copies of my correspondence with Chris, and were therefore denied the opportunity to consider what I had to say in those emails.

Through these actions, Chris engineered a situation in which the other members of the Hearing Panel were asked to make a decision about whether there was a case for me to answer without being presented with the evidence that would enable them to make a proper decision. This is a double-dose of blatant wrongdoing on his part, and is much more serious than Chris being incompetent and evasive.

 
2.11   One question that remained outstanding for many weeks was whether the MDSP had already evaluated Rhun’s statements on Sunday Supplement and Pawb a’i Farn as part of its general remit under Clause 3.2iii. The way he eventually answered this question on 23 October beggars belief and shows the seventh way in which the process followed was flawed:

The Hearing is concerned with your comments not any other persons

As I made clear throughout the correspondence with Chris and others, it is simply not possible to consider my criticism of Rhun in isolation from the statements and actions that occasioned my criticism of him.

To attempt to deal with my criticism of Rhun without considering whether that criticism was justified is the most blatant way in which the procedure adopted was flawed. Put bluntly, if what Rhun said about Plaid Cymru’s policy on nuclear power on Sunday Supplement is untrue—and I presented ample and incontrovertible evidence on Syniadau to show that it is untrue—nobody can reasonably object to me calling Rhun a liar and saying that he was trying to mislead people about our nuclear policy by telling that lie.

I don’t expect anyone in Plaid Cymru to like what I said. The fact that one of our candidates resorted to telling a blatant lie is shameful and embarrassing to the party, and to me as a member of the party. But the fault is Rhun’s for telling the lie, not mine for doing everything in my power to put right the damage he caused.

The whole disciplinary process has been handled, from beginning to end, so as to deliberately turn a blind eye to the fact that Rhun lied. I warned Chris of the foolishness of doing this on many occasions, and would highlight this from my email of 11 September as one of them:

For my part, I would repeat my warning. A complaint against me by one member of the party will not make the party as a whole a public laughing stock. But if the party itself chooses to instigate formal investigatory or disciplinary procedures against me, that investigation will of necessity have to cover the actions and statements of those I have criticized, which makes them subject to disciplinary procedures for damaging the public reputation of the party.

So go ahead, make my day. The people I have criticized should be held to account, and it is high time the party took action against them. But if the party is so two-faced that it takes action against a member for exposing what they have done, 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.

 
2.12   If the Hearing Panel decides that there is case to answer under Clause 4.6 of SOs, it is then incumbent upon them to be clear about what that case is. This was never done, and is the eighth way in which the procedure was flawed.

It needs to be pointed out that when Chris sent his email of 19 October, the only information he deemed it necessary for me to have was this:

It is my duty to inform you that the DMS Panel has considered the report of the investigating Officer and has concluded that there are grounds to convene a formal hearing into the complaints against you.

Accordingly arrangements are now in hand to convene a meeting of the Panel to be held on Monday 28 October 2013. The Hearing will be held at Ty Gwynfor, Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff. You are entitled to attend, present evidence both oral and written and also be represented at the Hearing. The same rights will be accorded to the complainant. Any written evidence should be presented by 5.00 pm Friday 16 October.

Please confirm that you have received this email.

The complaints made by Elin Jones AM against you are;

I can confirm that I am making my complaint against Michael Hagget, the author of the blog Syniadau, on the basis that the content of the blogs of July 20th, July 28th, July 30th and August 15th all included statements that were damaging to the public reputation of Plaid Cymru (Standing Order 3.1.iii). The blog can be found here:

     http://syniadau--buildinganindependentwales.blogspot.co.uk

I have included here 3 sentences/paragraphs in particular that were damaging:

“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.”

To be specific, it should be noted that Chris did not think it necessary for me to be given a copy of the complaint or a copy of the investigation report. He expected me to somehow answer without any knowledge of either the details of the complaint or the evidence that had been collected in the investigation report. I only received copies of these after Leanne had asked Dafydd to intervene.

However it is now clear from Elin’s complaint that her concerns were wider. So was I expected to address those as well, or only the points that were included in Chris’s email?

Additionally, the investigation report addressed a whole series of issues that were not mentioned in Elin’s complaint. For example: the way Rhun was allowed to stand as a candidate, the fact that Rhun had in fact also lied when he described himself as a new member of the party on his blog; Rhun’s revised opinion about nuclear power, which is completely different from the opinion he expressed in the latter stages of the campaign; a comment by Cai Larsen of Blog Menai; and a comment made by someone else on Blog Menai. So was I expected to address those as well, or only the points in Elin’s complaint, or only the points in Chris’s email?

I specifically noted in several emails that I would need to be informed of precisely what the case against me was before I could answer it at a formal hearing, but never received an answer. Without that information I could not reasonably be expected to present any form of defence.

 
2.13   The next area of concern is that it is far from clear what evidence was presented to the other members of the Hearing Panel at or before the so-called hearing, and in what form it was presented.

One way or another, there are almost certainly further flaws in this part of the procedure. However it is not possible to be precise about this because I have not been given the information that would allow me to determine it. In this section of evidence, I want to concentrate only on specific flaws which can be identified by hard evidence, so I will address the issue of missing information as a separate matter in the next section.

 
2.14   Returning to specific flaws, the Hearing Panel is required under Clause 5.4 of SOs to maintain a written record of its deliberations and findings. As neither the email of 5 December nor the minutes of that meeting record any deliberations about what I had said, it is evident that what I had to say was not properly considered. This is the ninth way in which the procedure was flawed.

To further illustrate that nothing I had to say was properly considered, I would again point out that no-one on the Hearing Panel saw fit to ask me any questions, even though I specifically said in my email of 27 November that I would be willing to answer any questions at any time, including on the evening that the Hearing Panel met.

 
2.15   In total I have detailed nine specific ways in which the procedure followed was flawed and therefore unjust. Taken individually, each one shows that the disciplinary procedure was flawed and therefore unjust. But taken together, it should be clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the way the disciplinary procedure was conducted was a travesty of justice from beginning to end.

3.  The Missing Evidence

 
3.1   On 18 December I asked Rhuanedd to provide me with the basic administrative records relating to the disciplinary procedures involving myself:

In order to properly prepare the appeal, I will need you to provide me with the following information:

1.  The dates of all meetings of the MDSP/Hearing Panel from 24 June 2013 (the date of my first post about Rhun on Syniadau) to date.

2.  The minutes or any other record of those meetings. These may be redacted to exclude items which do not relate to the subject matters referred to in Elin's complaint against me or my complaints against Elfyn, Bob, Dafydd and Rhun. If any meeting did not discuss these matters, a simple statement that it did not will suffice; however I require the dates of any such meetings because the fact that these matters were not discussed in them will be relevant in itself.

3.  Copies of the correspondence, and the file notes of any conversations, of those acting in an official capacity (as either members of the MDSP/Hearing Panel, Investigating Officer, or any other officer of Plaid Cymru) which relate to these subject matters.

4.  A copy of all the evidence, both written and oral, presented at the so-called hearing of 3 December, from all parties.

Rhuanedd passed this request to Alun to deal with, and I had no objection to this. However I did note in my email of 2 January that copies of this information should have been submitted and kept on file at Ty Gwynfor, and it was therefore a matter of serious concern that this had not been done.

 
3.2   From what Alun told me in his emails of 2, 6 and 14 January, he appears to have gone to considerable effort to obtain this information. I want to place on record my thanks to him for that, and for extending the originally proposed timetable to allow time to obtain as much of it as possible. Even though by no means all of this information had been received, it was clear that no more was going to be provided and that it would be pointless to keep flogging a dead horse.

However I find it quite remarkable that it took so long, and in fact required a “long telephone conversation” between Alun and Chris on 5 January, followed by several more days before Alun received anything. If Chris had kept contemporaneous records, those records could easily have been emailed to Alun without any delay, and certainly without any need for a long telephone conversation. I would also note that Alun, in his email of 2 January, clearly expected Chris to be able send him this information almost immediately, for he planned to contact me the next day.

As it happened, I had to wait until 14 January. So why the protracted delay? The only reasonable explanation is that what Chris eventually sent Alun was is in all probability not a contemporaneous record of what happened, but one that had been put together at best from memory and at worst “tailored” with the benefit of hindsight to present a less than accurate picture of what actually happened.

One thing is absolutely certain: the document entitled “minutes of the meeting of the Discipline panel 030913_031213-2.doc” is not a complete record. As soon as I received it, I noticed it did not include the meeting of the Hearing Panel that must have taken place sometime between 18 September and 19 October, if what Chris said in his email of 19 October was correct (see section 2.8 above). I therefore asked Alun in my email of 16 January to double-check and specifically confirm that the information he received from Chris was a complete record of all meetings. He confirmed that it was.

So why is the record of one of the most crucial meetings—namely the one in which Shaughan’s so called investigation report was received and considered, and where the decision was made that there was a case for me to answer—missing? It is particularly hard to believe it was accidentally overlooked, because Chris’s email of 19 October is what prompted me to ask for Chris to be removed from his position, as it was clear to me that his actions had moved from mere incompetence to deliberate wrongdoing. His actions and behaviour were therefore in the spotlight, and if what he had done in that meeting was above-board, he would surely have been careful to make a record of it while it was still comparatively fresh in his memory. It therefore seems highly likely that Chris did not keep a record of this meeting in an attempt to cover his tracks.

In his email of 16 January, Alun himself notes that Clauses 3.5 and 5.4 of SOs require written records to be maintained. I’d have made that point myself anyway, but it is gratifying to see that Chris’s failure to keep proper records of meetings is as obvious to him as it is to me.

 
3.2a   [Added information in response to an email from Rhuanedd, received by myself on 20 January, but several hours after the 5:00pm deadline for submission of written evidence.]

Rhuanedd sent Alun an email on 17 January, but this was only forwarded to me at 11:22pm on 20 January. Attached to her original email was a zip file containing a large number of other emails relating to her involvement in the disciplinary process. Because of technical difficulties these were only forwarded to me on 23 and 24 January; but, as it happens, none of them is of particular relevance to this appeal. 37 of them are copies of emails that I had either sent or received, and are therefore included within the chain of email correspondence which forms part of this evidence; 4 of them relate to administrative arrangements; and 2 of them to an earlier version of Elin’s complaint.

However one point Rhuanedd makes in the body of her email of 17 January is of considerable relevance. She confirms that copies of the minutes of full meetings of the MDSP were received by Ty Gwynfor within a few days of those meetings taking place, but that she did not receive any minutes of meetings of the Hearing Panel. She was given these minutes for the first time only on 14 January.

What Rhuanedd has said certainly seems to add weight to what I said above about the minutes being at best put together from memory and at worst “tailored” with the benefit of hindsight to present a less than accurate picture of what actually happened. To be more precise, the full MDSP minutes were recorded and submitted to Ty Gwynfor in the normal way, but those of the Hearing Panel definitely weren't. This is very odd, because these meetings generally took place on the same evening, with the Hearing Panel remaining round the table after the other members of the MDSP had left.

Even if it was Chris's intention to submit the Hearing Panel minutes in one batch at the end of the process, he clearly did not do so even then, otherwise they would have been submitted a few days after the final meeting of the Hearing Panel on 3 December. It would be pointless for Chris to hold them back after that, because he would be unable to take part in any appeal process.

 
3.3   In my email of 18 December I also requested:

3.  Copies of the correspondence, and the file notes of any conversations, of those acting in an official capacity (as either members of the MDSP/Hearing Panel, Investigating Officer, or any other officer of Plaid Cymru) which relate to these subject matters.

The package of information I was sent by Alun on 14 January did not include any of this. When drew attention to it, Alun again confirmed he had forwarded everything there was, and that no further information existed.

It should be specifically noted that neither Rhaunedd nor Alun ever questioned my right to receive copies of the correspondence and file notes I had asked for. Nor, I assume, did Chris, otherwise I would have expected Alun to tell me so. I would also note that I was perfectly happy for any information in such correspondence and notes that was not relevant to the complaints at hand to be redacted, so it is very hard to imagine on what grounds anyone could have any objections to me receiving this.

At this point I must be blunt. It is simply not credible to for Chris to claim that there was absolutely no correspondence, and that no file notes were kept of meetings and telephone conversations. Chris and others are clearly refusing to provide the information. It is a perfect illustration of the extent of Chris’s evasiveness, and indeed of what I called, in my email of 11 December, the “clandestine culture that infests certain sections of the party”.

This is shameful and completely unacceptable behaviour. At all times during this procedure I have been scrupulously open and transparent, but others haven’t.

The analogy I would like the Appeal Panel to consider is this: if a driver is pulled over by the police but refuses to provide a breathalyser sample, the punishment imposed by the courts for that refusal will be at least as great, if not greater, than the punishment imposed if the sample had proved to be positive. The basic principle of justice is that a person cannot later claim that they had not actually been drunk because of lack of breathalyser evidence to prove it. Refusal to provide the sample must be construed as implying guilt. The same principle must apply in this case too. Chris has not provided this information, and his refusal to do so must therefore be taken to imply that the disciplinary procedure was flawed and therefore unjust.

In Section 2 of this submission of evidence I have detailed nine specific ways in which the procedure adopted has been flawed, and backed each one up with evidence. I am unable to do the same here in Section 3 of my evidence (which is why it is a separate section) but the failure to provide the basic information I requested must be taken as implying that the procedure was flawed and therefore unjust in other ways too.

Finally on this matter, I would draw attention to the email correspondence between Alun and myself on the importance of disclosure of evidence. I think it is fair to say that we were in substantial agreement about timely disclosure of evidence, and that no party should be allowed to produce “last minute” evidence. On the matter of record-keeping, Chris and others in the party acting in an official capacity were given every opportunity to provide all evidence relating to matters of record, and the package that Alun compiled and sent me on 14 January is all that was provided. Now that I have outlined the consequences of the failure to maintain records, it would run completely counter to the principle of disclosure if any of the missing records were suddenly to “appear”.

 
3.4   The fourth thing I asked for in my email of 18 December was a copy of all the evidence that was presented to the Hearing Panel when it met on 3 December. I received two files. The first was the same “Report Scans.zip” file that was sent to me on 23 October. The second was a Word document “correspondence realting to hearing - Michael Haggett.doc" which Alun had compiled. However it did not include the all the correspondence, it was out of order, and some of it was repeated. I have no doubt that Alun meant well and that these were honest mistakes, and I appreciated the effort he had gone to. But as I noted in my email of 16 January, I found it very odd that Chris couldn’t have provided the evidence for Alun to forward to me in exactly the same form as it had been provided to the other members of the Hearing Panel.

In my email of 22 November I had specifically noted that what I had written needed to be given to the Hearing Panel and MDSP in electronic form so that the links it contained could be followed. Indeed, one of the failings of Shaughan’s so-called report was that it and the other documents in the zip file were scans of web pages and other documents which had been printed out. By choosing to do things in this way, he had made it impossible for anyone to follow the links or to listen to the audio clips and watch the videos which clearly show that what I said was backed up by hard evidence. It was this, as I noted in 1.7 above, that allowed him to get away with claiming that I had not included the full text of the motion passed at conference. Anyone who accessed the digital version would be able to see for themselves that Shaughan had made an incorrect and misleading statement.

The point is this. If Chris is to be believed, as noted in section 3.3, there had been no email correspondence between him and the other members of the Hearing Panel … but it would be to all intents and purposes impossible to give them a digital version without sending it by email. He can’t have it both ways at the same time. Besides that, if such emails had existed, Chris could have forwarded them and any file attachments with just a couple of mouse clicks and not put Alun to the trouble of having to create a new document.

Again, the only reasonable conclusion to draw from this is that the evidence wasn’t presented in a form that would enable the Hearing Panel to properly consider it. This would, to a considerable extent, help explain why none of the points I had made were addressed by the Hearing Panel in their deliberations.

 
3.5   [Information added after disclosure of evidence from other parties.]

I have received copies of written evidence submitted by both Shaughan and Rhuanedd, and have added two additional sub-sections to this submission of evidence to reflect what they have said. I'd like to thank them both for being up-front about what they had say to the Appeal Panel, and they have each helped to shed some additional light on what happened.

However it is notable that no evidence has been disclosed by Chris, and therefore I consider it appropriate to comment on this failure to provide evidence in this section on missing evidence.

In my email correspondence with Alun, we agreed that it was important that no party was able to present evidence to the Appeal Panel which had not been disclosed in advance, so as to allow other parties to consider it and prepare a response to it. Right at the beginning of the appeal process, Rhuanedd said this on Alun’s behalf in her email of 13 December:

All evidence will be shared by 7pm on January 10th with members of the appeal panel and anyone else who has submitted evidence. The panel will then have an opportunity to ask questions of those who have submitted evidence at the appeal hearing on January 14th.

Although the dates have slipped since then, the original timetable allowed a period of four days between submission of all evidence (not just written evidence) and the hearing itself.

In my email of 18 December I said:

An important principle to be followed in any dispute or quasi-judicial procedure is disclosure. Each party concerned needs to know what other parties are going to say in order for them to have adequate time and opportunity to prepare a response. It is in no-one's interest for anyone to be taken by surprise. The idea is for the relevant facts to be clearly and openly "on the table" for all to see well in advance of the hearing, so that the Appeal Panel then only needs to make a decision based on those facts without any argument about what they are.

I therefore warmly welcome your statement that all the evidence needs to be submitted in writing and copied to all parties prior to the appeal itself being heard.

In his reply of the same date, Alun said he accepted the point about to being taken by surprise and make it clear that the hearing itself should deal with clarifying/rebutting evidence already disclosed. And again, in his email of 2 January, he said:

I am expecting yourself, Chris and Shaughan to provide any evidence that you wish to provide to the panel no later than 1pm on 8th of January. That evening I will circulate the information supplied to me by all parties to all of the parties concerned and to all members of the panel.

Yet on 20 January Alun told me that Chris was going to be allowed to “address the panel” even though he had disclosed no evidence by the deadline of 20 January. This runs completely contrary to what he said before, and on 22 January I replied:

With regard to Chris, it is totally unacceptable for him be allowed to "address" the Appeal Panel in the way you have proposed and then be questioned about what he says. In our earlier correspondence we agreed that no party should be allowed to give evidence at the hearing which had not been disclosed beforehand.

Chris has not disclosed the evidence he clearly intends to give when he "addresses" the Appeal Panel. By not disclosing this evidence, I have been put at a two-fold disadvantage. First, he will now be able to tailor his evidence in the light of what I have said. However this is not so much of a disadvantage, for I have been open and transparent throughout the procedure and my submission of evidence document essentially highlights what I have said in previous email correspondence. So Chris would have already had a very good idea of what I would say.

The second disadvantage is much more serious. If Chris is allowed to leave it until the last minute to present his evidence, I will have no opportunity to consider, question, challenge or rebut what he might say in it; but he will have had ample opportunity to do the same with my evidence. This is one-sided and completely unfair.

I would stress that I have no objection to Chris giving evidence. But I must be given the same opportunity to respond to the evidence he presents as he and other parties have now had to respond to mine. That is what disclosure is all about. No party should be allowed to pull surprise evidence out of a hat at the last minute.

As I see it there are two ways round this problem. The first is to give Chris another chance to submit his evidence in writing, and not be allowed to introduce any new evidence to the Appeal Hearing that he had not previously presented in writing. However if Chris remains unwilling to put what he has to say in writing, the second way of solving the problem is for the Appeal Panel to hold an evidence-gathering session at which Chris will be allowed to say what he wishes and be asked any questions about it, and for a full transcript to be sent to me. This would then give me (and others, if they so wished) an opportunity to respond to it in the same way as he and others have been given the opportunity to respond to my evidence, and indeed Shaughan's. The Appeal Panel would then need to meet again to deliberate and reach a conclusion.

I think the first is better than the second because it saves you having to meet twice, but if Chris continues to refuse to put his evidence in writing there is no other choice. If he is allowed circumvent the principle of disclosure, the appeal process will descend into farce.

In my opinion, the Appeal Panel will be foolish if it allows Chris to present evidence which he had not previously disclosed, and I must warn you that if you proceed on this basis the appeal process will become as much of a farce as the actions of the Hearing Panel that led to it.

Chris’s refusal to put any evidence he presents in writing is clearly an attempt to prevent what he has to say being properly scrutinized. But it is entirely in keeping with his track record of defensiveness and evasion, it would be remarkable for him to suddenly become a model of openness and candour now. But it will not get him anywhere, for the Appeal Panel will have to keep a full record of the evidence that Chris presents, and a copy of that record will have to be sent to me in just the same way as I had the right to receive a copy of the evidence presented at the so-called hearing on 3 December. If I don’t receive a copy, Chris will in effect have given secret evidence. And if the Appeal Panel considers that secret evidence is admissible, you are going to be seen as knaves rather than just fools.

Clause 4.7 of SOs says that a decision

... will usually be made and conveyed to all parties on the day of the formal hearing. However in exceptional circumstances the Hearing Panel may reserve judgement for further deliberation.

So why not do the same in this appeal? In short, the Appeal Panel has everything to gain and nothing to lose by deferring a decision until after I have received a copy of Chris’s evidence and been given an opportunity to respond to it.

4.  What is to be considered in this appeal

 
4.1   As specifically set out in Clause 6.2 of SOs, the appeal is not a complete re-hearing of the case. Therefore whether the members of the Appeal Panel agree or disagree with the original verdict is entirely irrelevant. The matter for consideration is whether the procedure followed by the Hearing Panel was, as described in Clause 6.3i of SOs, “flawed and therefore unjust”.

 
4.2   I would repeat this part of what I said in my email of 18 December:

As I noted in my email of 13 December, the appeal is being heard primarily on the basis that the procedure followed by the Hearing Panel was flawed and therefore unjust. It therefore seems clear that I only need to demonstrate that:

1.  It was the intention of all parties to follow the procedure as laid out in Standing Orders, and that this could only be ignored if all parties involved (and in particular myself, as the one accused) had given their consent to dispense with, waive or vary any aspect of it;

2.  That the procedure as laid out in Standing Orders was not in fact followed;

3.  That nothing I had done prevented the procedure as laid out in standing orders from being followed.

It is not incumbent on me, or at all reasonable for me, to explain why the procedures set out in standing orders were not followed for the appeal to be successful. Although I have expressed my opinions about why this happened—and was allowed to happen despite my warnings—they are for the most part not directly relevant to this appeal. I certainly believe that Plaid Cymru needs to address these matters, but they must be considered at another time and in another forum.

 
4.3   I also said this in my email of 2 January:

According to Clause 6.2 of Standing Orders, the previous "verdict" is not relevant to this appeal. The Appeal Panel is being asked to consider whether the procedure followed was flawed. If the procedure was flawed, the procedure was therefore unjust. This confirms the point you yourself made when you used the words "a flawed process that is unjust", and we therefore agree on this point. To claim that the procedure was flawed but somehow not unjust would be perverse, as it would negate the whole point of laying out a set of rules in Standing Orders.

 
4.4   In his email of the same date, Alun raised the idea that it might be possible that “the process was flawed / not fully followed, but that no injustice was done”. He cited the example of the investigation report being received five minutes after the deadline agreed.

Yes, I would agree that something minor like a spelling mistake, a mangled sentence or a broken link would not in itself make the procedure invalid. But this is different from the specific rules set out in SOs being ignored. A breach of the rules acknowledged and then put right is not a problem; but to keep pressing forward like a toy robot, regardless of the rules being broken, and refusing to go back and put right what had been done wrongly is most definitely a problem.

I would present this analogy. A passage of play in a rugby match might well end up with the ball being touched down, but the referee would only award a try if there had been no infringements of the rules in the passage of play that led up to it. Not releasing the ball when tackled, going in from the side, handling in the ruck, accidental offside, a forward pass, a high tackle, a foot in touch, crossing and eye-gouging an opponent are all infringements of the rules which would invalidate the so-called “try”.

It goes without saying that some of the nine infringements I detailed in Section 2 of this submission of written evidence are far worse than others. Eye-gouging and high tackles are very much more serious than putting a foot in touch or a forward pass. But a fair and even-handed referee would need to blow the whistle even if a pass was only slightly forward. The so-called “try” would not stand if the rules had been broken in even a minor way … and neither should the “verdict” of the Hearing Panel stand if the procedure was not followed, even in a minor way. Otherwise, what on earth is the point of having the rules?

 
4.5   It was not for the Hearing Panel to decide that some rules are “important” and that others are “not important”, and then turn a blind eye to those that they didn’t consider to be “important”. And it is not for the Appeal Panel to decide it, either. All the rules need to be adhered to. That’s what they’re there for.

So yes, even though a matter such as failing to inform all parties of the timetable for the investigation is relatively minor compared with the other eight flaws in the procedure, the Hearing Panel clearly broke the rules set out in SOs by failing to inform me about it. It demonstrates contempt for the rules and a cavalier attitude by people such as Chris who, like Dafydd, clearly thought he could not only ignore what was written in SOs but make up new rules out of thin air.

 
4.6   Another important point is that I am not being “wise after the event” and using the fact that the procedure was flawed as a pretext for disputing the verdict. I repeatedly pointed out that the rules as set out in Standing Orders were being broken at the time they were being broken. I did so to give those involved the opportunity of going back and doing things properly.

If there had been even the slightest intention of wanting to do things in a fair and even-handed manner it would have been easy to do so.

 
4.7   There are two ways for the Appeal Panel to approach what has happened. Some of you might be sticklers for detail, and take the view that clear breaches of the technicalities of the rules are what matter. For such people, I have clearly shown what clauses of SOs have been breached … and the appeal must succeed on that basis.

But others might well be more concerned about the big picture and now realize that this whole matter was misguided from the outset, but descended into complete disarray from the moment I pointed out that it would be two-faced to take action against me for telling the truth about Rhun’s lies, without also taking action against Rhun for telling those lies in the first place. From that moment it became obvious that any pretence about conducting the disciplinary procedure in a fair and even-handed manner had been thrown out of the window. Put bluntly, it was nothing more than a stitch up.

So one way or another, whether considered in terms of detail or in terms of the big picture, this appeal must succeed.

 
4.8   Make no mistake, Plaid Cymru as a party is on trial. The decision that you, the Appeal Panel, must make will demonstrate whether you want us to be seen as a party that is terrified by truth

… so terrified by the power of truth that you will take disciplinary action against one member for speaking the truth while at the same time turning a blind eye to other members that tell blatant lies

… so desperate to deny and suppress the truth that that you are prepared to ride roughshod over our own rules in order to do it

 
4.9   To close this submission of written evidence, I will simply highlight what I said in my email of 11 December:

Consider this matter carefully while there is still time to do so, for the reputation of the whole party is at stake, even though the wrongdoing is currently confined to only a few individuals in positions of power. Why should anyone in the party take offence at what I've said? I think the public know full well that politicians are prone to tell lies, be evasive and defensive, and turn a blind eye to wrongdoing when they find it convenient to do so ... and Plaid Cymru politicians are no exception. That has been amply demonstrated in the way this matter has been handled.

For my part, I will not hesitate to call Plaid Cymru politicians liars when they lie and attempt to mislead the public and ordinary members of the party, and it is very foolish of anyone in Plaid to think for one moment that they can prevent me from doing so.

My primary obligation as the person responsible for Syniadau is to tell the truth without fear or favour. That is why my blog is so influential and widely read, and I will not throw away that reputation because people in positions of power in Plaid Cymru are offended by what I write. I will commend those who deserve commendation, irrespective of what party they are from; and I will criticize those who deserve criticism, irrespective of what party they are from. If they don't like it, tough. Telling the truth is much more important than Plaid Cymru will ever be.

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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Telling the truth is much more important than Plaid Cymru will ever be.'

Unless, of course, it relates to matters of Welsh education and the Welsh language.

Anonymous said...

Can we just get to the end? I want to know what happens.

@Anon - the Welsh language? What have Plaid done for the Welsh language?

Anonymous said...

I think we know what happens. The Appeal Panel says: 'OK, we might have made one or two teeny-weeny little mistakettes, but we were always going to find you guilty anyway, so they don't matter. Rhun is going to be our next leader, and we can't have you calling him a liar.'

Anonymous said...

I think you might be right about Rhun being set up as the new leader. I don't think this is about Michael at all, because, if it was, they'd have taken action against him for calling Dafydd El, Elfyn Llyd and Bob Parry liars. No consistency there, then.

I've been told that Elin bitterly resents the fact that she lost out to Leanne in the leadership contest, so she is obviously trying to set up Rhun as her replacement (her lack of leadership quality has been very disappointing) hoping that Rhun will scratch her back after she has scratched his.

Anonymous said...

Come on. We all know Adam is next, not Rhun.

Anonymous said...

So it's MH and the Badgers against Elin...... Who will Plaid cull next?

Anonymous said...

Re Anon 12 : 15 Whose lack of leadership do you refer to, please ? EJ or LW ?
I must admit I've found the series of e-mails very tedious and increasingly self-obsessed, but MH does seem to have a valid point at times. Strange to think that so handsome a victory has sprung so long and strange a debate.

Anonymous said...

Anon, 14:02, surely you can't seriously think that Adam Price will be the next leader of Plaid Cymru.

Yes, he speaks Welsh and publishes all manner of stuff about matters of language in the heartlands of Wales. But come on, the guy is homosexual, unmarried, childless and spends half the time living with his parents in oh-so-delightful rural England.

Rhun on the other hand is Mr Heterosexual. Married, kids, born, bred and still living in Anglesey. Why, he even sends his children to the local schools (but for how much longer on might reasonably ask?).

Now ask yourself who Plaid Cymru would want as their representative?

Anonymous said...

So it doesn't matter that Rhun tells lies, then? All that matters is that he's NOT gay, is it then? Bigot.

Anonymous said...

MH's posts are being used by some people to conduct odd debates that are not to do with Plaid/possibly not being conducted by Plaid people.

Anonymous said...

Michael, very impressed with how you've presented things, bur your pdf link isn't working.

Anonymous said...

.......and it's disgraceful for anyone to say that Adam can't be leader because he's gay.

Anonymous said...

Ah! Is this an interesting insight into Plaid thinking? Does Adam being gay seem to be a barrier in the eyes of Plaid supporters?

I have to say that I've never heard a hint of homophobia from anyone with regard to AP. He is, after all, open and honest about it.

Whereas I have heard quite a lot about Rhun being willing to prostitute Plaid values in order to gain power.

Anonymous said...

The issue here isn't anything to do with homophobia or heterophobia.

If the 'all-powerful' Plaid hierarchy want Rhun as leader they will anoint him leader, the wishes of the Plaid membership be damned. Just as with nuclear power. And just as with Micheal Haggett.

Don't kid yourself that Plaid is a democratic party. It isn't, as is now just being shown!

Anonymous said...

"Ah! Is this an interesting insight into Plaid thinking? Does Adam being gay seem to be a barrier in the eyes of Plaid supporters?

I have to say that I've never heard a hint of homophobia from anyone with regard to AP. He is, after all, open and honest about it.

Whereas I have heard quite a lot about Rhun being willing to prostitute Plaid values in order to gain power."

No. This is stirring. It is not an insight into Plaid thinking or anything else, and is nothing to do with MH's posts.

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