In February this year, I published the email correspondence between various people in Plaid Cymru and myself relating to a complaint made by Elin Jones, the AM for Ceredigion, in which she alleged that I had "damaged the public reputation of Plaid Cymru" by what I had written on Syniadau during the Ynys Môn by-election campaign last summer.
Apparently, Elin seems to think that it is unacceptable for me to point out that Rhun ap Iorwerth lied about Plaid Cymru's policy on nuclear power, and wants me to be thrown out of the party because I did so. This is particularly hypocritical of her, because she had no difficulty in pointing out that Dafydd Elis-Thomas told the same lie during the Plaid leadership election. According to her double standards, it's all well and good for her to point out that Dafydd was not telling the truth when it suited her because she is looking to be elected, but not for anyone else to do the same. I'll write more about her particular brand of hypocrisy later.
As well as the original series of posts, I’ve collated all the emails in one place on this page, How Plaid Cymru Works - Complete. They show the extent to which people in positions of power in Plaid Cymru were prepared to break nearly every one of Plaid Cymru's disciplinary rules in order to find me "guilty" of doing this. But, in the end, the decision was overturned on appeal, and the people who were responsible were confirmed as having acted unjustly.
I had hoped that this would be the end of the matter. It had been nothing more than a farce from beginning to end, and not only reflected badly on those who had done wrong, but was highly embarrassing for the leadership as a whole. Time after time I warned that their actions were making Plaid Cymru a laughing stock, taking matters right to the top. But both Leanne Wood as party leader and Dafydd Trystan as the Chair of the party chose to turn a blind eye to my warnings.
Similarly, over the last few months I have done my best to persuade the party leadership that it would be better to let things rest, as the emails I am going to publish over the next few days will show. This wasn't for my sake, but for the sake of Plaid Cymru; because the party members who have overwhelmingly upheld Plaid Cymru’s policy of being against nuclear power at conference after conference deserve better than a leadership that is clearly determined to put two fingers up at them by doing absolutely nothing to correct the lies told by people such as Elfyn Llwyd, Bob Parry, Dafydd Elis-Thomas and now Rhun ap Iorwerth. They know they cannot change our policy on nuclear power by open debate and a vote at conference, so they have decided to ignore the decisions we make at conference and change the policy by underhand methods instead.
Sadly, however, the party leadership do not want to let things rest, and are determined to press ahead with “re-starting” disciplinary action against me. The fact that the party's Constitution and Standing Orders do not allow them to do this doesn’t matter to them. Just as they did first time round, they think they are free to ignore our rules when it suits them, and free to invent new rules out of thin air when it suits them.
I can't stop them making fools of themselves, but the problem they face is that they can no longer do it in secret, behind closed doors. This is because Plaid's Standing Orders only prevent someone from making public statements about disciplinary procedures until after the conclusion of any appeal. As an appeal was held in back in January, there is nothing to stop me from exposing what they did, nor anything to stop me exposing what they are still trying to do.
The only reason I have held off doing this until now is because of the European Parliament elections. Although what has happened shows that the rottenness at the top of Plaid Cymru is certainly widespread, not everyone in a senior position in Plaid Cymru is as rotten as the rest, and Jill Evans, whose seat was certainly in the balance, did not deserve to lose it.
Because what I wrote on Syniadau is demonstrably true I have nothing to hide or fear, and those in positions of power in Plaid Cymru can do absolutely nothing to prevent me from speaking out. It was silly of them to even try. They are terrified by truth and are doing everything they can to suppress it, but I've made it perfectly clear that telling the truth is much more important than Plaid Cymru will ever be. So, if the party leadership is foolish enough to want to go through the same thing all over again, I am more than happy to tell the truth all over again to everybody who is prepared to listen.
Their little game has already backfired on them once. As a result of what happened first time round, the whole of Wales has found out that Rhun ap Iorwerth not only lied about Plaid’s policy on nuclear power, but that he lied about his previous membership of Plaid Cymru and, even more amazingly, had been telling different stories to different people about his own views on nuclear power. In public he had been telling people that he was all in favour of it; but because of the official investigation we now know that he was telling members of the party that he was against nuclear power. So who knows what will come out this time round? Watch this space.
For those who want to remind themselves about the previous correspondence, it is all collated on this page, which I will continue to update as further emails are published.
From: Nerys Evans
Sent: Thursday, 13 February 2014 5:08pm
To: Michael Haggett
Dear Michael Haggett
I have been contacted by the Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Panel (MDSP) in relation to the complaint made against you by Elin Jones.
The Panel has written to me in my capacity as Deputy Chair of Plaid Cymru following your concerns that the matter should be handled by someone other than the Chair.
As you will be aware from the email you received from Alun Cox on the 4th February, your appeal against the earlier decision of the Hearing Panel in relation to your complaint was upheld. The panel decided however that the process should be re-started from the point at which the potential problems with the process arose i.e. after the MDSP had determined that there may be a case to answer. In doing so it was decided that a new Hearing Panel should be constituted and an Investigating Officer appointed to conduct the investigation.
The reason the panel has written to me is that they have asked that the NEC co-opts 3 new members to the MDSP in order to undertake this work.
I am writing to you therefore to inform you that this process is underway and it is my intention that the NEC will be in a position to ratify the new members of the MDSP by next week.
When the NEC has ratified the new members of the MDSP I will then inform you of the names of the new Hearing Panel. I will also ensure that the new members declare from the outset if they have any conflict of interest or involvement in any aspect of this complaint.
In the meantime may I remind you that this complaint is still under investigation and that no public statement regarding the circumstances or persons involved in this should be made by any member other than me at this time.
I have been informed that you have already been made aware of this.
From: Nerys Evans
Sent: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 5:50pm
To: Michael Haggett
Subject: Re: Complaint
Dear Michael Haggett
Following my previous email to you, I can confirm that Plaid Cymru’s National Executive Committee has selected a new Panel to proceed with hearing the complaint submitted by Elin Jones. The three members are Glyn Erasmus, Eli Jones and Sian Powell. In accordance with 4.2 of the Standing Orders they will now meet to appoint an Investigating Officer and to determine a timetable for the completion of the Investigating Officer’s report.
You will be contacted by them to confirm these details.
From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Monday, 3 March 2014, 4:12pm
To: Nerys Evans
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Leanne Wood
Subject: Complaints by Elin Jones and Michael Haggett
Thank you for your emails of 13 and 25 February.
I have been on holiday and therefore have been unable to write before now. As I'm sure you'll appreciate, I have returned to rather a large pile of things that need to be dealt with, so the purpose of this email is to let you know that I expect to be able to address matters in more detail within the next few days.
You will note that I have included the complete chain of previous correspondence relating to the complaints by Elin and myself in order to help you understand what has happened.
From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Tuesday, 11 March 2014, 10:30am
To: Nerys Evans
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards, Leanne Wood
Subject: Re: Complaints by Elin Jones and Michael Haggett
In your email of 13 February you say that you have been contacted by the MDSP regarding Elin's complaint against me. I assume that this was by email or letter, so would you please send me a copy of it.
Let me first say that I welcome the fact that the party leadership has realized that it is inappropriate for any of those who have previously been involved in this fiasco (namely the whole of the MDSP and Dafydd Trystan) to have any further involvement in it; and therefore it does appear appropriate that you, as Deputy Chair, should now as as "honest broker" to deal with the mess.
Because it seemed likely that you would not be fully aware of what had happened, I attached the full chain of correspondence to my email of 3 March, and trust that you have now been able to digest it. As you will see, there are many, many outstanding matters that have not been addressed.
I would particularly draw your attention to my email to Alun dated 7 February. Although he replied on the same day, he failed to address many of the points I raised. In contrast, in my reply of 9 February to his email I gave a full answer to every single point he raised, but have received no further response. As the baton has now been passed on to you, and as more than a month has now passed, would you please address these outstanding matters without any further delay.
Stepping back to look at the wider picture, it is clear that there is no constitutional basis for anyone in Plaid Cymru to continue to pursue disciplinary action against me in relation to Elin's complaint. The irregularities in the way the matter was handled were repeatedly drawn to the attention of both Chris and Dafydd before the formal hearing, but they deliberately turned a blind eye to them and pressed ahead regardless. It is now too late to go back and do it all over again.
But as well as the blatant irregularities in the way that the MDSP conducted themselves with regard to Elin's complaint against me, there were equally blatant irregularities in the way that they conducted themselves with regard to my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd ... as I noted in section 5 of my email of 7 February. You cannot pursue one matter while completely ignoring the other.
The root of the problem Plaid Cymru now faces—and the the reason why the MDSP made such a dog's breakfast of the disciplinary process against me—is not merely a matter of flaws in the way it was conducted. The problem is much more fundamental than that. They decided to take disciplinary action against me because I drew attention to the fact that Rhun was misleading the public and other members of the party by lying about our policy on nuclear energy; however they broke the rules to do it not only in the way they handed Elin's complaint, but also by deliberately turning a blind eye to the fact that Rhun had lied, and that Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd had told essentially the same lie before him. Taking action against me for telling the truth about Rhun's dishonesty, but not taking action against Rhun for his dishonesty is blatant favouritism. Taking Elin's complaint seriously, but failing to take my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd with the same seriousness is, again, blatant favouritism.
It is this refusal to act in an impartial and even-handed manner which needs to be addressed. It shows blatant bias and prejudice, has damaged the reputation of those responsible, and has brought shame and disgrace upon the party as a whole. It is of course understandable that the MDSP should now want to close their collective ranks and claim, as Alun did, "that there was no intention to mislead or to ignore procedure", but any fair-minded person would see that they cannot be allowed to pass judgement on themselves, and no responsible organization would dream of allowing such self-serving behaviour. The real question now is whether and how far the rot has spread within the leadership of Plaid Cymru. Will others in positions of power in the party attempt to defend the appalling behaviour of the MDSP and Dafydd as Chair, or will you face up to the truth and act decisively to put things right while there is still a chance to do so? That is the stark choice that the party leadership now faces.
You should be under no illusion that Plaid Cymru as a party is on trial. In the penultimate paragraph of your email of 13 February it appears that you still want to keep this matter out of the public eye, but it is too late for that. Clause 9.1 of Standing Orders only prevents a member from making public statements until after the conclusion of any appeal, and that point has now been passed. It has nothing to do with whether, to use your words, "the complaint is still under investigation". This matter is, and will now remain, in the public eye because the best protection I have against a repeat of the previous arbitrary and unfair use of power is openness and transparency.
I would remind you that in my email of 9 February I offered a way forward that would enable matters to be concluded in a way that will be seen by other members of the party and by the general public to be fair and reasonable, and I will repeat it:
So I am going to present the party with a proposition that might surprise you, but is perfectly in keeping with my standards of openness, honesty and accountability.
As I have said from the outset, I am prepared to answer any criticisms about anything I have written on Syniadau from anyone who wants to take issue with it. I extend this courtesy even to those who write anonymous comments on Syniadau, so I'm certainly not going to refuse to be accountable for what I say with those who do not hide behind anonymity.
Therefore I am prepared for there to be a new investigation, but the remit of this new investigation must include my complaints against Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd, as well as Elin's complaint against me. Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd must be formally told that their statements are being investigated as part of a disciplinary procedure against them and must be made subject to the same potential sanctions as I might be. The investigation must be carried out by someone of stature from outside the party, must itself reach firm conclusions as to culpability, and must be published.
... I would like Leanne, as leader of the party, to now make the decision as to whether this is an acceptable way forward.
It is a great pity that Leanne has not been prepared to act in the way that is required of the leader of a political party, even when asked directly to intervene. Political parties exist to win the trust of the general public, because it is only by winning their trust that we can have any hope of winning their votes. Are we going to let other political parties put us to shame? Look at the Liberal Democrats. They undoubtedly did the right thing by referring the recent complaints against Chris Rennard to an independent QC, and we should learn from them. No in-house investigation would or could be credible, because Chris Rennard in the case of the LibDems and Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd in the case of Plaid Cymru are in positions of power within their respective parties.
Put bluntly, if you wish to take the matter of disciplinary action against me any further you must now do it by means of an independent investigation, and must include Rhun, Elfyn, Bob and Dafydd within the scope of that investigation. But if you are afraid that a truly independent investigation will confirm that those four have lied, but that I have told the truth, then you must act even-handedly and drop your threat of disciplinary action against me.
Personally, I think you'd do better to see sense and let the matter rest. Surely we all have better things to do.