This is the twenty-fourth 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: Michael Haggett
Sent: Friday, 27 June 2014, 3:20pm
To: Rhuanedd Richards
Cc: Jocelyn Davies
Subject: Re: Second Appeal
I did not receive your email of 25 June (16:06) but Jocelyn has been kind enough to forward me a copy of it.
I am reticent to remind you of the procedure set out in Standing Orders for conducting an appeal, not least because there was never any provision in Standing Orders for anyone to "re-start" disciplinary proceedings against me in the first place. I have pointed out on several occasions in the email correspondence below that those trying to pursue action against me have often ignored the rules that do exist and then made up new rules out of thin air to suit themselves. I would only note that Eli had claimed in her email of 7 April that the new hearing panel would act as if the first disciplinary process had not taken place; therefore, even by that yardstick, this second appeal would need to follow the same course as was established for the first.
It would therefore be necessary for the appeal to be heard by members of the MDSP who have not previously been involved. So far as I am aware, Jocelyn is not on the MDSP, and I note that you do not mention who appointed her or her as yet unnamed colleagues. As the previous correspondence with Nerys shows, it took some time to appoint new members to the MDSP to form the second Hearing Panel and for their appointment to be ratified by the NEC. I would be very surprised if Jocelyn and the others can have been appointed and ratified so quickly. I suspect people are simply trying to hurry things through with even less pretence at doing things according to Standing Orders than before. I would therefore advise all concerned to take a step back, and think very hard about they do next in order not to repeat or exacerbate the previous failures in the way this whole process has been conducted. Please take things step-by-step, and don’t rush straight to the end without properly completing each of the earlier stages.
For my part, I would confirm the grounds for this appeal, as required by Clause 6.3 of Standing Orders. As you noted, they are:
6.3i That the procedure adopted by the Hearing Panel was flawed and therefore unjust.
6.3ii That the verdict and conclusions of the Hearing Panel demonstrate that they are based on factual inaccuracies.
Under Clause 6.4 it is incumbent upon me to be specific about about what aspects of procedure were breached and which facts are disputed. I am unable to do this fully because, despite my requests, I have not yet received several pieces of vital information. I will therefore outline only the broad headings at this stage, with the intention of producing a full written statement of evidence when this information has been received, in the same way as was established for the first appeal.
In respect of the procedure being flawed:
1. No-one has been able to set out any constitution grounds for "re-starting" disciplinary action against me. This was confirmed by Dafydd Trystan when he said in his email of 4 February that these were "uncharted constitutional waters".
2. Even if the procedure could be restarted, Ian Titherington would be totally unsuitable as Investigating Officer. To choose someone who had so obviously pre-judged the issue shows bias and lack of even-handedness on the part of the Hearing Panel.
3. Any investigation would need to be conducted with due diligence. Instead, Ian only asked me a few nominal questions for the sake of appearance, but then proceeded to ignore everything I said. Some of the questions I was asked were so vague that they could not be answered. I asked for clarification, but received no response. I also raised several questions that would need to be answered by other parties, but again received no response.
4. Eli said in her letter that Ian's Investigation Report contained evidence that was used to find me guilty. Every defendant has the right to know what evidence is being presented against them, and must be given a chance to refute it and ask questions about it. Despite my request, I did not receive a copy of that report, and have still not received one.
5. If a Hearing Panel were to decide there was a case for me to answer, I would need to be given precise details of what it was. This was not done. Even from the limited information available at present, it is clear that Ian's investigation chose to address only some aspects of Elin's complaint, but that it also addressed matters that were not part of her complaint. Additionally, it is clear from the Hearing Panel's decision that they considered matters which were neither part of Elin's complaint nor part of the questions I was asked during the investigation.
6. Any evidence being presented at a hearing would need to be disclosed to me beforehand so as not to take me by surprise and give me an opportunity to prepare a response to it. This was not done.
7. Arrangements would need to be set in place for cross-examination of anyone wishing to present evidence against me. It is absolutely vital that a defendant is given the opportunity to ask questions about the allegations and any evidence presented in support of them. I had asked some of the more obvious questions as part of the investigation but, as noted in point 3 above, because I do not have the report I do not know what the answers were, or whether those (or similar) questions were even asked.
8. It was wrong to punish me for an alleged breach of Clause 9.1 of Standing Orders without giving me any prior notice that this was a subject matter under consideration, and without giving me any opportunity to respond.
In respect of factual inaccuracies, these all stem from the decision of the Hearing Panel as conveyed to me in Eli's email of 20 June:
1. It was claimed that I had chosen not to acknowledge or respond to Eli's correspondence. This is untrue.
2. It was claimed that copies of the correspondence (which, crucially, might or might not include the investigation report, details of the case I was expected to answer, and prior disclosure of evidence) had been delivered by "recorded delivery". The Royal Mail tracking details I have now been given (one Royal Mail Signed For and one Special Delivery Guaranteed) prove beyond doubt that they were not delivered.
3. It was claimed that I had made no submission to the Hearing Panel, however I had informed Ian (as the Investigating Officer they had chosen to appoint) of everything I had said previously with the intention of him using this evidence in the investigation. I also engaged in the investigation process by asking for answers to a number of specific questions.
4. It was claimed that I have breached Clause 9.1 of Standing Orders. I have not. The restriction on making public statements only applies "until after the conclusion of any appeal". An appeal took place on 28 January so, since that date, the restriction no longer applies. In publishing details of the disciplinary procedure on Syniadau in the series How Plaid Cymru Works I have been careful to act in accordance with what this clause actually says, not what others might wish it said.
5. Finally, and most importantly, it was claimed that I had called Rhun a liar and a dishonest politician "without any evidence to support such serious allegations". I presented clear evidence to show beyond any doubt that Rhun was lying / being dishonest – in the posts on Syniadau at the time, on numerous other occasions on Syniadau, in the email correspondence below, and in the package of evidence to which I referred Ian. I would also note that the first investigation revealed that Rhun was dishonest in two other respects, detailed with full evidence here and here.
Conversely, I also asked others—including Rhun, Elin and Leanne—to provide any evidence that might show that what Rhun said on Sunday Supplement about our policy on nuclear was true. No-one has provided any such evidence.
In closing, I would repeat that this is an outline for the purposes of complying with Clause 6.4, as this information needs to lodged with you as Chief Executive by today. I will only be able to provide a full written statement of evidence for consideration at the Appeal Hearing when the outstanding information has been received, although I note that you wish me to ask Jocelyn rather than you to provide it. That’s not a problem. As with the first appeal, I don't care who provides it, as long as I get it.
From: Michael Haggett
Sent: Friday, 27 June 2014, 4:32pm
To: Jocelyn Davies
Cc: Rhuanedd Richards
Subject: Re: Second Appeal
Thank you for fowarding Rhuanedd's email to me. I have replied to her, see below, as there are several matters that need to be addressed to her as Chief Executive. I would in particular ask you to note that there is a question mark over your appointment because I believe you are not a member of the MDSP, and if you and the others were to be co-opted this would need to be ratified by the NEC in the same way as happened with the three new members who formed the second Hearing Panel.
That doesn't mean I object to you becoming Chair of the second Appeal Panel, only that people seem to be rushing things through with even less pretence at doing things according to Standing Orders than before. As I said to Rhuanedd, I would advise everyone concerned to take a step back and make sure things are done properly. It has taken the best part of a year so far because of all the previous mistakes; a week or two more won't make any difference.
For this reason, and because so much information is still outstanding, my answer to your proposal of holding the appeal hearing next Wednesday remains a polite but firm No. I must insist on a proper procedure conducted to the same standard as was established for the first appeal, which you can read about in the email chain below. It is pointless to re-invent any wheels. It is not just a matter of you "viewing documentation" and, as it is now clear that this is what you meant by a "paper hearing", what you propose is definitely not acceptable.
The most pressing need at the moment is to provide me with the outstanding information necessary for me to prepare my appeal. As I said to Rhuanedd, I don't really mind who sends this to me. Sort it out amongst yourselves, but be sure you do sort it out and keep me informed of what is happening.
The information I require is the same as it was for the first appeal:
1. The dates of all meetings of the MDSP/Hearing Panel, subsequent to the information I was sent before as part of the first appeal.
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, or the file notes of any conversations, of those acting in an official capacity (as either members of the MDSP/Hearing Panel/Appeal Panel, Investigating Officer, or any other officer of Plaid Cymru) which relate to these subject matters, subsequent to what I was sent before.
4. A copy of all the evidence, both written and oral, presented at the so-called hearing of 17 June, from all parties. In particular, this would include a copy of Ian's Investigation Report, which I know must exist but which I have not as yet received. It would also include any statement about the case I was expected to answer, which may or may not exist.
Please arrange to have this information emailed to me as soon as possible.
Assuming that you will in due course be ratified as a member of the MDSP by the NEC and then become Chair of the Appeal Panel you will need to decide, as Alun did when he chaired the first appeal, who (beside myself) you will invite to submit evidence. All evidence will then need to be disclosed to other parties so that matters can be accepted as either undisputed, or disputed, or for questions to be asked about it. As I said before, I am happy for this to be done entirely by email.
As for the timetable, it goes without saying that I will not be able to provide a statement of written evidence similar to the one I produced for the first appeal until I have received the outstanding information. Once it is received, I imagine that it will take about a week to prepare the initial statement of evidence, but that it might then need to be revised in the light of other disclosed evidence. Only after that can the hearing be held.