Yesterday, I published an email from Eli Jones advising me of the verdict of the second Hearing Panel. There are many things that could be said about it, but because whether Rhun did or did not lie is the central issue in this matter, I'd like to concentrate on that first. This is the relevant paragraph:
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.
If anyone needed proof that the whole disciplinary process against me has been a farce from the beginning, this one paragraph should convince them. Eli was clearly trying to make out that there was no evidence to support what I said about Rhun misleading people over Plaid Cymru's policy on new nuclear power stations by blatantly lying about it ... specifically saying that these allegations were "unsubstantiated", "serious" and "scurrilous".
Of course I won't deny that they are serious allegations, but they are definitely not unsubstantiated or scurrilous. I provided evidence to back up what I said at the time, and I'm happy to repeat it now by republishing the posts concerned.
There is no doubt whatsoever about what Rhun said on Sunday Supplement. I provided a link to a recording of the programme which anyone can listen to, as well as a transcript of the exchange between Rhun and Vaughan Roderick. There is no doubt whatsoever about what Plaid Cymru's policy is. I provided a link to the motion endorsed by Plaid's Conference which anyone can read. Putting the two together, we can all see and hear for ourselves that Rhun was definitely not telling the truth.
What I find "beyond belief" is what might motivate people like Eli Jones, Peter Fenner and Sian Powell to put their names to something which they must know to be totally false. Their eyes are shut tight, their fingers are in their ears, but their mouths are working nineteen to the dozen to spread misinformation that cannot fool anyone who takes the trouble to check the facts for themselves. No wonder their reaction to me publishing every single word of what they are are doing is one of, to use their own words, abject horror.
Rhun ap Iorwerth is lying about Wylfa B
Today's Sunday Supplement was largely devoted to the Ynys Môn by-election on Thursday. The full debate can be heard below or downloaded here but, as readers would expect, I want to focus on what was said about Wylfa B, and in particular this exchange between Vaughan Roderick and Rhun ap Iorwerth:
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.
If Rhun wants clarity, then we need to be absolutely clear that he is misleading people on this issue by telling blatant lies.
Plaid Cymru does discuss issues and makes policy decisions that we believe are in the best interests of Wales (although it is a bit naïve for Rhun to think that most other parties don't make decisions in a similar way), and while it might or might not be true to say that Plaid used to have a policy of developing nuclear power stations on existing sites at some time in the past, it has most definitely not been Plaid Cymru's policy for some years. The decision made at conference is that Plaid Cymru are totally opposed to the construction of any nuclear power station in Wales, including a new nuclear power station at Wylfa B [click to display] and Rhun is deliberately misleading people by pretending otherwise.
This is the full text of the motion as approved by Plaid Cymru at our conference in 2011:
NUCLEAR ENERGY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
(Newport Branches / European Parliamentary Group)
1. The tragic consequence of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan which led to the dangerous situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, namely that fuel in the reactors produced considerable amounts of heat which led to a full meltdown, causing radioactive material to leak.
2. That the incident at Fukushima, occurring on the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, heightens concerns for the safety of nuclear energy.
3. That as a result the European Commission has proposed stress tests on all current nuclear reactors, and the UK government has called on the Chief Nuclear Inspector to carry out a review of nuclear installations.
4. That as a result, Germany has announced that all the country’s nuclear power plants will be phased out by 2022. Switzerland has also committed to phasing out nuclear power by 2034.
Conference further notes:
1. The essential principle of energy independence given Plaid’s long term ambition for devolved sovereignty and independence.
2. That as a net exporter of energy with massive undeveloped renewable energy potential new nuclear developments are not required in Wales in the long term in order to meet energy demand. Further investment is required into developing the potential of wave and tidal technologies which when commercialised could lead to Wales becoming more self sufficient in renewable energy.
3. That cost per KW of production for some forms of renewable power generation are lower than nuclear.
4. That the long term costs of nuclear decommissioning are not calculated.
5. The proven evidence of the effect of carbon emissions towards catastrophic climate change, also the growing pressure on fossil fuel resources including significant commodity price escalation as we approach peak fossil fuel production.
6. That the current coalition government’s policies on the carbon price floor will serve in the short term to raise consumer fuel bills and will leave the nuclear industry by the far the biggest beneficiary and also therefore fail to optimise the potential investment in renewable energy that variants of this legislation could bring.
1. Plaid Cymru’s belief that all energy decisions should be devolved in full to Wales.
2. Plaid Cymru’s total opposition to the construction of any new nuclear power stations. If the Westminster government gives the go ahead for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, we should make sure that the investment recognises the need to employ local people, invest in training to maximise local employment and make sure that indigenous companies benefit from supply chain opportunities.
1. For Plaid at all levels to lobby the coalition Westminster government to restructure Carbon Price Floor legislation in order to exempt nuclear power from receiving any form of public funded subsidy.
2. For the EU’s nuclear stress tests to be carried out by independent experts and to be based on robust criteria.
3. On Plaid Cymru to welcome Germany’s decision to phase out all nuclear power stations and to encourage other governments across the world, including the United Kingdom, to follow their lead.
4. For greater investment by the Welsh government in renewables and energy efficiency measures.
Although it is nothing new for a member of Plaid Cymru to support the continuation of nuclear power, those members are definitely in a minority within the party. However it is of much more concern to me that Rhun did not make his position on nuclear power clear to party members at the hustings when he was selected as Plaid's candidate. The position he presented at that time was "more or less identical" to that of Ann Griffith and Heledd Fychan, and Heledd made it clear that she was opposed to nuclear power. Nor did he make his support for Wylfa B clear in the statements he made immediately after he had been selected; instead he hid his position behind tortuously ambiguous words both in his interview with the Daily Post and on his own blog. I've commented on what he said here and here.
His support for Wylfa B (as opposed to support for maximizing local employment opportunities if Wylfa B were to be built, which is entirely different) only came out in a careless tweet last week. It should therefore be obvious to anyone that Rhun deliberately misled Plaid members in Môn in order to be selected.
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.
The only person who sounded convincing on the issue of nuclear power was Kathrine Jones of the Socialist Labour Party. Her position was far closer to that of Plaid Cymru than Rhun's.
This is why I called Rhun a liar and said we do not need dishonest politicians like him in Plaid Cymru, and the evidence I provided proves beyond any doubt that he did lie. However, as a result of the first official investigation conducted by Shaughan Feakes, it became clear that this was not the only lie Rhun had told.
One of the other lies he told was in fact far, far worse. As can be seen from the post below, Rhun is two-faced, for he was telling different sets of people completely different things about his views on nuclear power. He was told the public that he was pro-nuclear power, but told people within the party that he was against nuclear power. This is what I posted in February.
Rhun says he's AGAINST nuclear energy
In my last post I published the package of information that had been sent to me after I had asked Leanne to intervene because Chris Franks was not doing his job properly. Prior to that, Chris had fully expected me to turn up to a formal hearing without knowing any details about the complaint, who would judge me, what the evidence against me was ... or what the official investigation report which formed the basis of the decision to hold a formal hearing, and was supposed to reflect my position as well as that of my accuser, said. I had now got some answers, though not all of them.
By far the most important piece of information was the investigation report, and in these next posts I want to look at what it contains. One thing in it stands out above everything else.
I have spoken to 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.
If anyone had to sum up Plaid's policy on nuclear energy in one sentence, that's as good a way of putting it as any. It is in two parts, and each part is essential. The first part is that we in Plaid Cymru are opposed to nuclear energy. The second part is that we will fight to get the best from Wylfa B if it is imposed on us by Westminster. The if is all-important.
In the early stages of the Ynys Môn by-election campaign, Rhun was quite happy to stress the second part, but did not say anything at all about the first part. He refused to be clear about whether he supported or was against a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. I described his position at the time as "tortuously ambiguous" in this post, and went on to say:
Up until now I have not known where Rhun stood on this issue. My objection to him being allowed to stand or being selected was based on the fact that we could not properly assess his suitability to stand as a Plaid Cymru candidate in such a short time. I had hoped that his first statement would be something much more positive:
I had hoped Rhun would say that he is totally opposed to Wylfa B and will fight to stop it happening.
I had hoped Rhun would say that it is being forced on us by a Westminster government that will not let Wales decide our own energy policy for ourselves.
I had hoped Rhun would say that we in Wales can produce more electricity than we consume from renewable sources, a major part of which are around the coast of Ynys Môn, and that we will create better jobs on the island by developing these than by building a new nuclear power station.
I had hoped Rhun would say to those already working in the nuclear industry who are concerned about their jobs that there will be plenty jobs for decades to come in decommissioning Wylfa A, making it safe and cleaning up its toxic legacy.
I had hoped Rhun would say that the cost of dealing with new and very much more toxic nuclear waste—which would have to be kept on the island indefinitely rather than moved to Sellafield as happens now—will be a millstone round the neck of future generations that Wales as a nation will struggle to afford.
... and I had hoped Rhun would also say that if, and only if, a Westminster government forces Wylfa B onto us despite all our objections, it had damn well better ensure that we at least get something out of it in terms of construction jobs, supply chain opportunities and the skills necessary for the operation of the station once completed.
If he has any political sense at all, Rhun will say all of these things. It is not too late for him to do so. What is wrong with Rhun's statement to the Daily Post is that he makes the last point without making all the other points. He cannot hope to get away with that. He needs to unequivocally express his opposition to nuclear power before he gets to the "if".
Fair play to him, as I noted in my next post, Rhun did then go on to make some of these points, in particular about the problem of nuclear waste and energy policy being decided in Westminster rather than in Wales, but he still wouldn't say whether he was or was not opposed to nuclear energy.
Because of this ambiguity, he was put under ever-increasing pressure about it from all sides, and he eventually snapped. On 19 July, well over half-way through the campaign, he tweeted this:
@theNukeGuy Ha!Yes,I'm pro Wylfa B,& will fight to ensure our young people& communities benefit.Can't put it clearer than that!All the best.— Rhun ap Iorwerth (@RhunapIorwerth) July 19, 2013
As I noted at the time, if Rhun was a person of principle or character, why had he been afraid to make it clear that he supported Wylfa B in his previous statements to the Daily Post and on his own blog? But whatever the reason, the cat was now out of the bag, and in the last ten days of the campaign Rhun made it abundantly clear that he was in favour of nuclear energy at Wylfa B, openly acknowledging that he did not agree with Plaid Cymru's policy. So far as I am aware, that has been his position in public ever since.
What is completely scandalous is that Rhun said one thing in public, but then—only six weeks after he had been elected—said the exact opposite when formally questioned about it as part of an official Plaid Cymru investigation.
This shows Rhun for what he is: a man without principles who will flip-flop on the issues. He will say one thing to one set of people at one time because he thinks it's what they want to hear, and then say completely the opposite thing to a different set of people at another time. This is two-faced hypocrisy of the very worst sort and there should be no place for such behaviour in politics.
It's not down to me to decide which is the truth and which is the lie. All I can say with certainty is that one of them must be a lie. Perhaps what he did was deliberately lie to the investigation in order to make it appear that his beliefs were in line with Plaid Cymru policy. If so, I guess his purpose would have been to make it appear that I had no reason at all to criticize him, and therefore that my criticism of him was unreasonable and unjustified.
But that is to miss the point. I never called Rhun a liar on the basis of whether or not he agreed with Plaid Cymru policy. I called him a liar because he misrepresented our policy by saying that we support the construction of new nuclear power stations on existing nuclear sites. We don't. We are totally opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power stations in Wales.
But there is perhaps another possibility: that he is in fact against nuclear power, but that he lied to everyone in Môn and Wales about it because he thought that telling this lie was the only way he would be elected ... and that being elected was more important to him than telling the truth.
I'm sure it is a story that has been told many ways in many languages, but in the novel Dirgel Ddyn by Mihangel Morgan is a character called Mr Schloss. He is the landlord of the house in which the author has a bedsit, and his idea of conversation revolves around praising Thatcher and saying that Hitler had the right idea about the Jews. Not exactly the most endearing of people. But one day he finds his cat has been killed and is distraught. In his grief he confides to the author that his cat was the nearest thing to a family he had, and tells the story of his childhood. As a small boy in Germany he sees the Nazis kill his entire family, but he manages to stay hidden and survives. When he asks the man who rescues him why the Nazis would do this, he learns that it is because his family was Jewish, and is told that he must never, ever tell anyone that he is Jewish. So what does the small boy do? He reckons that no-one will suspect him of being a Jew if he goes round telling everyone how much he hates the Jews. So that's what he does, and it then becomes a part of his life that he can't change ... even though every time he says how much he hates the Jews, he twists the knife a little deeper into his own heart.
Immediately after the Ynys Môn by-election, I summed up my thoughts in this post, and said something which I am still sure is true, although maybe one word now needs to be changed. For me, the big question in the by-election campaign was why Rhun started by being ambiguous about whether or not he supported Wylfa B, and only made his position clear in that infamous tweet of 19 July:
One explanation is that he was being goaded by Labour, who were making all sorts of silly accusations to try and catch him off balance. At one time they were saying that his ambivalence about whether or not he supported Wylfa B was a sign that he secretly supported it; but when another Labour goon suggested that it was a sign that he was secretly against Wylfa B it proved so -------- to him that he felt he had to say he supported it.
At the time, the word I used was "offensive". But what if his ambiguity at the start of the campaign was not to hide the fact that he supported Wylfa B, but to hide the fact that he opposed it? Perhaps the word should have been "embarrassing", and what motivated him to jump that way was the fear that telling the truth would cost him the election. He had tried to sit on the fence about it, but when the fence was shaken he made the mistake of choosing the easy way out and is now living a lie on the wrong side of it. So far as the public is concerned he has put his cards on the table and is unambiguously pro-nuclear ... and now that he's said it, he can't go back on it for fear of being exposed as someone unscrupulous enough to tell lies in order to save his electoral skin.
As I've said, I don't know which one is true. If Rhun is against nuclear energy, then he lied to the people of Ynys Môn and to Wales as a whole, probably because he thought that he needed to lie in order to get elected. If he is in favour of nuclear energy, then he lied to an official Plaid Cymru investigation, either in an attempt to make it appear that my criticism of him was unjustified or, far worse, because he wanted to stitch me up.
With the publication of this report it will now be obvious to everyone that, one way or the other, Rhun has lied about where he stands on the issue of nuclear energy.
But this was not the only new lie that came to light as a result of the first official investigation. It turns out that Rhun also lied about his previous membership of Plaid. This is what I wrote about it:
Johnny come back lately ap Iorwerth
In the comments section of my post of 29 July entitled Rhun ap Iorwerth is lying about Wylfa B was this exchange:
This blog is now being quoted by Plaid's enemies in the by-election, so I hope you're happy.
99 people out of a hundred in Wales couldn't give a monkey's nuts about the nuclear power issue.
Rule #1 in politics, never mistake your own personal obsessions for a matter of genuine public interest (see also: Tories/Europe).
So don't get angry with me, direct your anger at those responsible for undermining party policy instead.
I was then taken to task for this and accused of telling lies about Rhun in an anonymous comment on Blog Menai. This is the exchange:
MH 'di'r un sydd 'di deud celwyddau. Roedd m'ond angen iddo godi'r ffôn i rywun call ac mi fyddai wedi darganfod y canlynol:
... 2. dydi Rhun ddim yn rhyw "Jonny Come Lately" i Blaidd Cymru – fuodd o'n aelod yn yr 80au/90au cynnar cyn troi ei law at newyddiadura
... Y cyfan yr oedd MH angen ei wneud i sefydlu'r ffeithiau hyn oedd i godi'r ffôn i Rhun neu eraill yn y Blaid – dyna fyddai aelod cyfrifol wedi ei wneud. Yn hytrach mi ddaru fo gychwyn grwsâd anheg ac anghywir gan wneud niwed iddo fo'i hun a'r Blaid. Siomedig.
MH is the one who is telling lies. He only needed to phone anyone with any sense and he would have discovered the following:
... 2. Rhun is not some "Jonny Come Lately" to Plaid Cymru – he was a member in the 80s/early 90s before turning his hand to journalism
... All that MH needed to do to establish these facts was to lift the phone and speak to Rhun or someone else in Plaid – that's what a responsible member would have done. But instead he embarked on an unfair and incorrect crusade, doing damage to both himself and Plaid. Disappointing.
Am aelodaeth y Blaid: Rhun yw'r un a oedd yn disgrifio ei hun fel "aelod newydd" o'r blaid, yma, nid fel rhywun sy'n ail-ymuno i'r blaid. Celwydd arall? Ydoedd, os oes hynny ddim yn wir.
Dwi'n cael fy meirniadu am alw Rhun yn "Johnny come lately", a dwi'n ymddiheuro am hynny'n llwyr os oedd Rhun yn aelod yn yr 80au. Byddai e'n "Johnny come back lately" yn hytrach. Ond, rili, beth yw'r ots am hynny? Os oedd Rhun yn aelod yn gynt, Rhun roedd yn gamarweiniol am y peth, nid y fi.
About [his] membership of Plaid: Rhun was the one who described himself as a new member of the party, here, not as someone who was rejoining the party. Another lie? Yes it was, if that wasn't the truth.
I'm being criticized for calling Rhun a "Johnny come lately", and I completely apologize for that if Rhun was a member in the 80s. He would be a "Johnny come back lately" instead. But really, what does it matter? If Rhun was a member before, Rhun was the one being misleading about it, not me.
From my point of view, all I was being presented with were assertions in an anonymous comment with no evidence to back them up. That is why my response was "if". But the matter came up again in the comments to my post on 15 August:
I think you'll find Rhun was a member for years in his youth before joining the BBC and running over your dog.
The story that Rhun was a former member of Plaid has been doing the rounds, Beard. I don't think it's particularly important either way, but I'll point you to what I said about it here on BlogMenai. Rhun described himself as a new member here on his blog, not as someone who was rejoining the party. So if he was in fact a former member, it would be another example of him misleading people.
In the investigation report, this was twisted into the following bald statement:
August 15 (post-election)
MH claims Rhun had stated he was a new member of Plaid Cymru and was therefore misleading people if he was in fact a former member.
It's a distortion for a number of reasons. First, it implies that I was making the accusation, when I was in fact responding to the accusation that I was telling lies. Second, it's hardly a "claim", as if to cast a shadow of doubt over whether what I said was true. It's a simple indisputable fact that Rhun did describe himself as a new member of the party. Isn't the whole point of an investigation to find out whether "claims" are or are not true?
Let's be clear, this is not a big lie on Rhun's part, and I wouldn't even be mentioning it except for the fact that it was considered important enough to be included in the official investigation report and used as evidence against me for supposedly bringing the party into disrepute. I'm presenting it as an example of how certain people in Plaid Cymru had lost all sense of perspective, and were scraping the barrel looking for any tiny thing that could be bent out of shape to use against me.
I'm equally sure that those in positions of power in Plaid Cymru who were responsible for trying to stitch me up will now try and point the finger at Shaughan and say that the contents of the report are his and his alone. But that's not entirely fair on Shaughan. As this accusation was not mentioned in Elin's letter of complaint, it seems clear that Elin must have pointed him to it ... but not pointed him to the context in which it was said. If I had not been shut out of the investigation, I could have told Shaughan all of this at the time. I could have directed him to what was said in the context in which it was said. But, as only became clear to me several months after the event, he was given specific legal advice by Plaid Cymru's lawyers not to contact me by email to ask me any questions.
What is so tragic is that this was a completely pointless and unnecessary thing for Rhun to lie about. Why say anything at all about being a "new member"? Nobody was putting him under any pressure or asking him any awkward questions about it. If he can't be honest and straightforward about himself, even on a completely uncontentious issue, how on earth can anybody trust him to be honest and straightforward about what he believes on more contentious political issues?
Yet Elin, in her letter of complaint about me, says she is sure that the people of Ynys Môn "would have known Rhun's integrity enough to trust him over an unknown blogger". My answer is that integrity is something Rhun needs to do rather more work on than I do.