How Plaid Cymru Works - 22

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

From the emails in the previous post people will see that I had asked Nerys, as Deputy Chair of the party, to intervene in the same way as Leanne had asked Dafydd to intervene before (Dafydd was now disqualified by reason of his previous involvement, which is why Nerys had taken over his role in overseeing this matter) because it was clear that the second Hearing Panel was rushing headlong into making almost exactly the same mistakes as the first Hearing Panel had made. Just as Chris Franks had done last year, Eli Jones also expected me to turn up and be judged without having seen a copy of the investigation report, without knowing exactly what the case against me was supposed to be, and without any prior disclosure of the evidence that would be presented.

But this time round nothing happened, and so the hearing went ahead anyway. The next I heard was this email from Eli Jones, which I will publish without comment for now. I think everyone who has been following this series will be able to make up their own minds about it.

From: Eli Jones
Sent: Friday, 20 June 2014, 4:54pm
To: Undisclosed recipients
Subject: Complaint made by Elin Jones AM aganst Michael Haggett, August 2013

To: Michael Haggett and the Director of Communications
Copy to: Hearing Panel members, Chief Executive, and Party Chair

Without prejudice

Dear Mr Haggett and Ms Jones

Further to my earlier correspondence informing you that the Panel had reached a decision that there was a case to answer concerning the allegation that Mr Haggett had engaged in -

Actions or statements damaging or potentially damaging to the public reputation of the party

contrary to Standing Order 3.1iii, and that there would therefore be a formal hearing to consider the evidence, I now write to you to inform you of the outcome of that formal hearing, held at Tŷ Gwynfor on 17th June 2014.

You will recall that both parties were invited to attend to present their case, and/or to submit a written statement in advance. Both parties were asked to acknowledge receipt of that communication and to indicate whether it was their intention to attend the hearing.

The Panel was informed that Ms Jones would not be submitting a written statement nor would she be attending, as she felt she had nothing further to add to the complaint she had submitted in August 2013.

The Panel received no response from Mr Haggett, despite having taken the precaution of ensuring a copy of our correspondence had reached its destination as it was sent by recorded delivery.

The Panel therefore proceeded with the formal hearing in the absence of both parties to the complaint.You are invited to present your case before the Hearing Panel at that time.

The Panel formally received the Investigating Officer’s Report, (Standing Order 4.6i), and considered the evidence set out in the original complaint and in the Report. The Panel was also prepared to consider any submission received through appropriate channels from Mr Haggett, but none was forthcoming. The Panel expressed its total dismay at the lack of co-operation, and the lack of contrition or remorse, but also its abject horror to learn of the breach of paragraph 9.1 of the Standing Orders for Membership, Discipline and Standards, and the reminders included in both direct communications from the Panel to the parties, concerning public statements regarding the circumstances or persons involved in a disciplinary procedure. These make it quite clear that:

No public statement regarding the circumstances or persons involved in a disciplinary Procedure shall be made by any member other than the Chair of the Party until after the conclusion of any appeal or until after the last day for the making of an appeal in the event of no appeal being made.

The Panel had been made aware that not only had Mr Haggett been blogging about the proceedings, and that this was the source of a non-helpful article in The Western Mail published on 14 June 2014, but that Mr Hagget had published verbatim within his blog the correspondence he had received from the Panel.

This action on Mr Haggett’s part confirmed to the Panel that Mr Haggett had received our correspondence, and that he had chosen not to respond to us, contrary to our request, but also that he had deliberately flouted the requirements of paragraph 9.1. In turn, that implied that he was acting audaciously towards the Panel, and by extension, towards the Party.

The Panel considered whether to refer such disregard and deliberate impudence onwards as a further, separate complaint against Mr Hagget, but having concluded that no useful benefit would be derived form further referral, the Panel regarded this latest inappropriate behaviour as an extension to, and part of, the subject matter of the complaint currently under review.

In addressing the core subject matter of the complaint, the Panel found that there was evidence to support the allegation of

Actions or statements damaging or potentially damaging, the public reputation of the party (Standing Order 3.1.iii).

Plaid Cymru is a party which is united by the aims outlined in its constitution but naturally encompasses a broad range of views and opinions. Like any other organisation, our members are not always going to agree on everything – but we do manage to get along with one another and we respect each other, and each other’s standpoints.

We understand that Mr Haggett had concerns about the manner of Rhun ap Iorwerth’s selection, but there is provision in our Constitution for such circumstances. We understand that Mr Haggett had different views and opinions to Rhun’s (and others), and we understand that annoyance and frustration can arise when events take a path contrary to our wishes. This is why Plaid has robust and wide-ranging internal democratic mechanisms in place which allow for discussion and debate and resolution of our differences – even if it lands up as an agreement to disagree. There was no evidence whatsoever that Mr Haggett had attempted to utilise such mechanisms. Mr Hagget’s concerns, whether in relation to the selection process or any of the other issues featured in his blog during the election campaign, appear not to have been raised through the proper constitutional channels Plaid provides.

What the Panel found was evidence of a distressingly vicious and personalised escalating attack on one of its members. The Panel was appalled by the degree of vitriol and unsubstantiated allegations targeted at the candidate. Criticism of our candidate’s views on any topic is unhelpful in the context of a by-election, but Mr Haggett went far beyond acceptable comment by referring to him, inter alia, as a “liar” and a “dishonest politician” without any evidence to support such serious allegations. The Panel would consider the making of such scurrilous allegations against a member of another Party as inappropriate and unacceptable, but to make them against a member of one’s own party is beyond belief.

There did not appear to have been any attempt to apologise to Rhun ap Iorwerth, whether directly, or as part of the disciplinary process, for this slur on his personal integrity, nor was any contrition shown for the verbal assault impugning Rhun’s reputation nor for undermining the efforts of loyal Plaid members during such a significant by-election. The absence of a response from Mr Haggett to the Panel is indicative of how even he himself could not defend such behaviour.

Any democratic party will have to deal with contentious issues which divide opinion. Some of these debates may become heated but it is the responsibility of all members to avoid personalising disputes and to respect and tolerate the views of members who are of a different persuasion. Plaid values diversity. But Plaid also expects respect for different views, and from all its members towards all its members. On the basis of the evidence before it, the Panel found that in the course of his blog attacks on Rhun ap Iorwerth, Mr Haggett had manifestly failed to respect a fellow member, had undermined the efforts of fellow members, and had shown unacceptable intolerance of views that differed from his own. This transgression was further compounded by the open contempt shown for the workings of this Panel, and thereby, Plaid in general.

The Panel regards Mr Haggett’s behaviour in this matter as not the behaviour that members of Plaid Cymru have the right to expect from their party colleagues - indeed, no major organisation would tolerate such behaviour from a member.

It is therefore the unanimous decision of the Panel that the complaint made by Elin Jones in August 2013 be upheld, and that recent behaviour, towards the Panel, (and therefore Plaid), contrary to paragraph 9.1, compounds and exacerbates an untenable situation. The Panel considers both these aspects of the same complaint to be sufficiently serious to require a sanction.

The Panel concluded that Mr Haggett’s party membership be suspended for a period of not less than two years, with immediate effect. Any future application for membership from Mr Haggett will be subject to the scrutiny and approval of the Membership, Disciplinary and Standards Committee.

Incidentally, the provisions of paragraph 9.1, remain applicable, for the time being.

Yours sincerely

Eli Jones
Chair - Hearing Panel

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Anonymous said...

Have you finished now ? I'm certain you've been badly treated, and are morally quite in the clear ( as opposed to a dangerous Brit-leaning maverick like DET), but what a frustrating squabble.

Anonymous said...

I really can''t believe that Eli Jones would write that Michael called Rhun a liar " without any evidence to support such serious allegations".

It may be tediuos and boring, but one thing he does on this blog is always provide evidence. We all know that Rhun was lying, and therefore to deny it is plain stupidity. You can criticise Michael for his injudicious use of language, but you can't deny that Rhun told lies.

Anonymous said...

"The Panel considered whether to refer such disregard and
deliberate impudence
onwards as a further,
separate complaint against
Mr Hagget, but having
concluded that no useful
benefit would be derived form further referral."

"Impudence"! I'm in my 60s and I haven't read anything as pompous and bloody absurd as that since primary school. Its a wonder Plaid doesn't keep the entire "class" behind until they admit to "having thoughts"! Hands on heads now children and no looking out the window at Lord Ellis-Thomas! More seriously, at no point did they, or indeed could they, address the REAL issues. No surprise there then. MH...You are best out of it.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely bloody ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. How do you reckon any other party would act in these circumstances then?

Anonymous said...

The party leaders would admit that what Rhun said was untrue, but that he was "mistaken" and that he had "no intention of misleading the public".

Anonymous said...

The problem is Michael that, although you're an absolutely superb blogger and advocate for a wide range of good causes through the prism of Plaid, you have an unfortunate tendency towards obsession and personal vindictiveness. I've thought this in the past, before Rhun ap Iorwerth was even considered as a candidate. You take this way beyond the level of normal political disagreements (which we all have at times) and I guess it was always ultimately going to lead you into the kind of situation you now find yourself in. Yes, I'm sure you can find ways of blaming Plaid's administration, but, in the end, it's about you and the way you fixate on things. I'm really sorry it's turned out like this.

Anonymous said...

Only two years? Good God Almighty an obvious British intelligence plant is to be re admitted in time for the Assembly elections so that he can invent divisions.

Just great.

Anonymous said...

What must you do to be thrown out of Plaid permanently? Murder the leader with a screwdriver on live TV?

Anonymous said...

'Mr Haggett went far beyond acceptable comment by referring to him, inter alia, as a “liar” .................'.

I, too, referred to Mr Iorwerth as a liar when I heard him talking about Plaid's nuclear policy on the radio.

Just out of interest, what word should Mr Haggett and I have used?

Anonymous said...

He was merely being a little "economical with the actualité", old boy.

Anonymous said...

I vividly remember during the Yes campaign of the mid/late 1990s, Kevin Morgan and others forcasting that we would see a sweeping away of the old and venal party machine era of Welsh politics as the "dam was breached" and a wave of new talent, open debate and fresh ideas stimulated popular engagement. "Redesigning Democracy" as he so grandly put it. And what did we end up with? The same "machines" with the same self serving elite slightly recast. It would be "impudent" to expect anything other.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear....what have these people achieved? MH is banned from membership of Plaid for 2 years and Plaid have revealed that they have a cohort of prats in place to accuse the membership of "Impudence" for questioning the God given right of the chosen ones of the party to lie and obfuscate and generally ignore the lower orders (and accepted policy).

The sun rises and MH remains a blogger much visited by both nationalists and non nationalists and considered "Influential" by the Western Mail. I doubt that he will change his views one iota. What was it all for? If Plaid had any grown ups at the top they would have just rolled their eyes and ignored MH in the first place.

Welsh not British said...

For MH's crime of telling the truth he is punished with what is effectively a life time ban.

Anonymous said...

MH should have just emailed Rhun with his concerns. Instead of calling him "dishonest" during an election campaign.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is the end of it. Michael won the first appeal, didn't he.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9.48 - there were all sorts of other options open to him short of hurling abuse in public. He could have complained informally, he could have brought a formal complaint, he could have raised the issue at conference or on the National Commitee of which he was a member, he could just have had a word with Rhun.

But he decided to hurl abuse and encourage people not to vote Plaid on the eve of a vital by election. He brought this on himself.

Anonymous said...

10:08, maybe if he hurled more abuse and encouraged more people not to vote Plaid the party would start to win more seats with bigger majorities.

Just saying!

Anonymous said...

It's significant that there is so much naivety shown here by the author & many of the comments left here. Political parties can't conduct their internal debate in public, especially in the vitriolic & personal way Mr Haggett uses. If everybody involved with Plaid operated on Mr Haggett's basis the party would resemble a collection of ferrets in a sack.

Mr Haggett is a little luxury Plaid, or indeed no other party can afford.

Anonymous said...

"If everybody involved
with Plaid operated on Mr
Haggett's basis the party
would resemble a
collection of ferrets in a

Oh, the irony!

Anonymous said...

Well, it's only Mr Haggett that's throwing abuse around - everybody else is behaving in a reasoned & professional manner.

Anonymous said...

Mr Ap Iorwerth didn't tell his lie "in private". He told it on radio and television broadcast to an audience of a few tens of 1,000's of people.

This isn't "internal debate". Plaid Cymru's policy on nuclear is public knowledge. But Mr Ap Iowerth couldn't or wouldn't accept it, and told everybody that Plaid's policy was something it wasn't. Mr Ap Iorwerth was in the wrong, and he should have apologised at the time. If he had, things could have moved on.

It's because politicians "operate on Mr Ap Iorwerth's basis" that Plaid is is such a shambles.

If you want to play the "vitriolic and personal" card I suggest you read Eli Jones' comments again. They are vitriolic and personal.........and petty and spiteful..........and FACTUALLY WRONG,

Truth isn't a luxury, it's an everyday basic that political parties throw away at their peril.

Anonymous said...

Message to all Plaid Cymru members from Leanne Wood:

'If you tell the truth, there's no room for you in our party'.

Anonymous said...

Can you point to vitriolic and personal comments by Eli Jones 11.12?

Anonymous said...

What used to be a decent blog is now primarily a playground for multi-posting anti-Welsh trolls. Nice work, MH.

Anonymous said...

Vote for Plaid ................................. but don't expect to get what you expect!

Anonymous said...

@11:36. How about?

distressingly vicious and personalised
appalled by the degree of vitriol and unsubstantiated allegations
far beyond acceptable comment
making of such scurrilous allegations

But let's put it the other way round, shall we?

Can you point to anything MH said that was abusive? According to you lot, the fact that MH called Rhun ap Iorwerth a liar is "hurling abuse".

Anonymous said...

Those aren't personal comments - they're directed at what he has said, not what he is.

Saying that something is untrue is one thing, calling somebody a liar and a hypocrite is quite another.

Eli Jones could have called Mr Haggett a liar & hypocrite because a number of the allegations he made are factually untrue, but she didn't do that.

Anonymous said...

A liar is someone who tells lies. It's a factual description based on the fact that what a person has said is untrue.

Same with hypocrite, saying one thing to one group people (he told the public he was in favour of nuclear) and the opposite thing to another (he told party members he was against nuclear).

Rhun ap Iorwerth is a proven, caught red-handed, liar and hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Me again.

And pray tell, what allegations did NH make that were "factually untrue"?

Anonymous said...

If you read through the entire lot you'll find a large number of stuff that aren't factually accurate - right at the beginning there are allegations that the NEC bent the rules to allow Rhun to stand & that Angharad Mair put her name forward for Carmathen East. Both claims are untrue.

My take would be that Mr Haggett was mistaken, although checking up would have been fairly easy. I wouldn't dream of refering to Mr Haggett as a liar and a hypocrite on that basis, and especially so if I were a fellow party member.

There are numerous other inaccuracies - as one would expect over such a protracted exercise.

shambo said...

Well it wasn't the most unexpected of endings but somehow I feel Syniadau will continue regardless.

Anonymous said...

Children pleeeeze! Back to your desks now and stop all this fighting! How can you hope to be leaders of the Nation one day if you keep shouting rude slogans and waving spent plutonium rods in the air! You may well have found them in Ms Wood's big green bin bag but that's no excuse! No MH, you can't raise a point of order about the dinner ladies all turning bright orange! Quiet!

Anonymous said...

MH (not NH, sorry) never said the NEC "bent" the rules. They waived the 12 month rule, as they were perfectly entitled to do, and what he said that it was a mistake for them to do it because Rhun was an unknown quantity and they were taking a big risk.

Angharad Mair was interested in becoming candidate for Carmarthen East, and did make overtures to the party about it. All you're saying is that she didn't make an OFFICIAL application, which you might be right about. But MH never said she did. He said she expressed an interest. Get your facts right.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you read the link to the Western Mail article that MH provided? It says:

"PLAID CYMRU sources say the party’s ruling national executive is to consider whether rules should be relaxed to enable TV presenter Angharad Mair to stand as an MP."

That provides the basis for what MH said. Clear as crystal.

You're trying to split hairs over this rules business as well. There is a rule that allows the NEC to waive the 12 month rule. So what's your problem? The 12 month rule WAS waived, which is what MH said. You're barking up the wrong tree if you want to catch MH out for not telling the truth. But Rhun DEFINITELY didn't tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

It subsequently transpired that AM hadn't put her name forward. Wales On Line was wrong, but didn't have the benefit of hindsight. Mr Haggett was also wrong, but did have the benifit of hindsight.

This is what he said regarding rules - But what does that say about the way Plaid Cymru operates as a party? Do we want to be seen as a party in which vested interests can chop and change the rules as they see fit?

There was no chopping rules, no changing rules, no vested interests. An application was made to the NEC by an individual, not a vested interest. The application was allowed, and the decision to do so was entirely within the rules of the party.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that Angharad must have expressed some interest. You're saying that because she didn't make a formal application she can't have expressed an interest.

Anonymous said...

She expressed interest to the media. Hence Wales Online's story. That's as far as it got.

Anonymous said...

She expressed interest to Plaid Cymru, and someone in Plaid Cymru then confirmed it to the media.

Anonymous said...

You're guessing again.

Anonymous said...

Surely if Plaid now formally changed its stance to pro-nuclear throughout Wales that would be consistant and acceptable? Welsh nuclear energy would be nothing like the despoiled and ugly English version. Ours would be clean and "mountain spring pure" with a fresh lemon odour and any waste could be collected by the local bin men every two weeks. Little old ladies in Landaf could warm their brown toast on it. Martin Shipton could power his old laptop and Menna Richards fuel her ex BBC taxi. It's a win win win scenario. Votes a plenty.

Anonymous said...

When John Dixon complained about Sian Caiach, and she was expelled from the party, it came back to bite them as HMJ failed to win Llanelli.

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