Jacob Williams

POLICE LETTER IN FULL: No further action in grant fraud claims

Tuesday 16th July, 2019
POLICE LETTER IN FULL: No further action in grant fraud claims

CPS DECIDES NO CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS TO BE TAKEN INTO ALLEGATIONS OF PEMBROKE DOCK PROPERTY RESTORATION GRANT SCHEME FRAUD

• ‘INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE’ TO SUPPORT FRAUD PROSECUTIONS
• GRANT FRAUD ALLEGATIONS DOSSIER WAS HANDED TO POLICE IN 2014
• REFERRAL MADE BY COUNCIL AFTER FAILED WHITEWASHING ATTEMPT
• POLICE SAY KEY PCC HARD DRIVE OF EVIDENCE WAS ‘NOT RETAINED’
• UNNAMED BLOGGING COUNCILLOR’S POSTINGS ALSO CITED BY POLICE
• UNNAMED COUNCIL OFFICERS STRONGLY CRITICISED
• THEIR EVIDENCE HAD ‘SIGNIFICANT RELIABILITY AND CREDIBILITY ISSUES’
• IT WAS CONFLICTING, INCONSISTENT, INCREDIBLE AND UNRELIABLE
• PCC’S GRANT RULES IGNORED BY STAFF WHO ‘WEREN’T TRAINED PROPERLY’
• GRANTS PAID DESPITE NO CHECKS THAT BUILDING WORK HAD BEEN DONE

Pembrokeshire County Council’s chief executive, Ian Westley, has received a letter from a senior Dyfed-Powys Police colleague outlining the Crown Prosecution Service’s announcement that it will bring no criminal proceedings in the long-running Pembroke Dock grant saga.

The fraud allegations – dating back to 2013 – are that public cash, administered by the council under the Commercial Property Grant Scheme, was awarded to property developer Cathal McCosker or his shell companies for building work either completed to far cheaper specifications or not carried out at all.

In the letter (reproduced in full below) Mr. Westley is told by CID head, Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell, that the CPS has “determined that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any of the suspects.”

Plod’s investigation was of a particularly old vintage.

The council had no option but to call in the police in February 2014, after Cllr. Mike Stoddart and I jointly discovered evidence in grant files of unaccountably favourable treatment being given in the competitive tendering process for appointing building contractors.

Some weeks later a dossier of evidence suggesting impropriety in the grant scheme was handed to the police by the council.

Long before that time, however, senior figures at the authority had attempted to whitewash the affair and rubbish Mike Stoddart – the blogging councillor who first suspected impropriety in the council-administered grants, and raised the topic publicly, in 2013.

Until now, in periodic updates the police have expressed their expectation that the matter would head to court.

In May 2016 PCC’s audit committee was told by DCI Anthony Griffiths that “several suspects” had been interviewed on “three separate occasions.”

He told the committee:

“Last week we carried out a third suspect interview on one individual. I’m satisfied that we are ready to refer to the Crown Prosecution Service. I fully expect this to end up in a criminal court.”

When pressed by councillors – me in particular – no time-frame for the expected charges was given, only the unspoken suggestion that it was imminent.

That was over three years ago.

Not a single arrest is ever thought to have been made in connection with the affair.

Last week’s letter from the police – dated 12th July – sets out in sparse detail some of the reasoning behind the CPS’s decision not to proceed with the criminal case.

Among them was the curious case of a PCC official’s “hard drive.”

In a revelation sure to raise many questions, the device – belonging to a grant scheme case worker – was said to have been: “examined as part of the internal investigation, but had not been retained for Police and no dossier of information relevant to the examination of the hard drives was kept.”

Whose hard drive it was, or how it went missing under PCC’s control – or became otherwise unavailable – is not addressed in the letter.

The police also refer to “allegations made” by an unnamed councillor of: “collusion,” that documents were “missing and/or replaced” and “interfered with,” which it says was “not proven,” but that “the integrity of the documents was bought into question by the Councillor.”

An unnamed blogging councillor “published a number of articles […] despite being warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as investigation was live.”

The significance of the councillor’s public postings is not made clear by the police’s claim that: “…the Investigating Officer did not have confidence that they were able to record and retain all relevant material in relation to the investigation.”

Sounds remarkably like those who shone the brightest light over this murky affair are having blame heaped on them for plod’s tardy ‘investigation’ – despite having been handed the dossier of evidence on a plate.

The police’s letter outlining the development will do little to instil general confidence in PCC’s administration of public cash.

They say there is “learning” for PCC to do “in terms of administrating any future grant schemes.”

The old bill says that there were significant reliability and credibility issues with the evidence.

That the council’s own grant scheme rules weren’t followed by staff who were “not trained properly.”

That grant officers failed to check if grant-funded building work had been completed before doling out public cash.

Perhaps most damningly – and this seems to be a new revelation – the CPS felt that:

“Overall, it was considered that the evidence from representatives of Pembrokeshire County Council was conflicting and was not consistently credible and reliable.”

The property developer whose grant claims were in question – English-based Irishman, Cathal McCosker – has since repaid the council all of the CPGS grant money he ever received for sprucing up his various properties – £189k.

However only around £80k of that £189k had been in question – the other £109k-odd seems to have been repaid by McCosker out of the goodness of his heart.

After the council made the police referral, McCosker sent a letter to the council asking if he could voluntarily repay all his grant cash hoping that the saga would simply go away – an offer the council was unable to accept.

READ MCCOSKER’S REPAYMENT OFFER LETTER HERE.

Not only has McCosker now repaid £109k to which he was ostensibly entitled, he’s also foregone a grant of roughly £125k he was due to receive through the CPGS scheme for a further Pembroke Dock property, 50 Dimond Street, which was virtually complete.

It all means that he’s volunteered to give up almost a quarter of a million pounds which had never been disputed.

Mr. McCosker’s repayments were made in instalments.

Some sceptics wondered whether, once McCosker’s ledger with the council was cleared, the authorities would announce that was the end of the matter.

The council confirmed to the police that Mr. McCosker made his final payment only late last month.

The possibility that such a coincidence could give rise to speculation obviously occurred to the police – as their letter makes a point of spelling out for the cynics:

“It is also worth noting that whilst the grant money (£189,224.26) has been repaid to Pembrokeshire County Council in full, this has not informed the decision making process.”

The matter is due to be discussed at this week’s full council meeting, where the author of the letter sent to Ian Westley, Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell, will address councillors.

The full council meeting takes place this Thursday, 18th July, at 10am. The public can attend in the gallery or view live on the council’s webcast site at the following link, where the recording of the meeting will be archived for subsequent viewing.

POLICE LETTER IN FULL:

Steve Cockwell
Detective Chief Superintendent
Heddlu Dyfed-Powys Police

Mr Ian Westley
Chief Executive
Pembrokeshire County Council
County Hall
Haverfordwest
Pembrokeshire
SA61 1TP

12th July 2019

Dear Mr Westley

Re: Advice on alleged fraud – Commercial Property Grant Scheme

I am writing to inform you that we have received advice from the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to a fraud allegation that was referred to Police on 4th September 2014 by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO). The case involved an allegation that a property owner, received payments under the Commercial Property Grant Scheme that they were not entitled to. They were assisted by an architect who facilitated the applications for the grant (which was to renovate commercial use buildings such as those with shop fronts and convert to residential accommodation) and a builder who was involved in completing work and providing false invoices. The grants came from the Welsh European Funding Office but were administered by Pembrokeshire County Council.

The Crown Prosecution Service have determined that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction against any of the suspects. The Prosecutor Code states that a case which does not pass the evidential stage must not proceed, no matter how serious or sensitive it is.

The Crown Prosecution Service have stipulated that they have no issue with the investigation conducted by the police or the reasonable enquiries undertaken during the investigation. They also found no evidence of collusion on the part of any Pembrokeshire County Council employees; although state it is clear that there were failings in process and procedure in the authority around the handling of the scheme.

Whilst this has been a Crown Prosecution Service decision, I have summarised some of the evidential difficulties that have been identified in this case: –

Pembrokeshire County Council Investigation and Disclosure

There were three particular issues that were highlighted, which presented a high risk of the defendants not being able to have a fair trial in this case. These issues fundamentally undermined the prosecution case and would have given rise to an abuse of process argument by the defence.

• The hard drive from the computer of a case worker on the grant scheme was examined as part of the internal investigation, but had not been retained for Police and no dossier of information relevant to the examination of the hard drives was kept. The case worker was interviewed as part of the investigation and indicated that there was relevant material on their computer relating to the grant applications, which was now unavailable.

• Prior to the police becoming involved there was an internal investigation and all documents relating to the enquiry into the grant process had been kept in a room within the Council. There were allegations made by a Councillor that documents were interfered with and that documents were subsequently missing and/or replaced. Whilst this was not proven, the integrity of the documents was bought into question by the Councillor who publically made allegations of collusion.

• A Councillor has published a number of articles on their local blog regarding the grant scheme, despite being warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as investigation was live. As a result, the Investigating Officer did not have confidence that they were able to record and retain all relevant material in relation to the investigation.

Inconsistencies in evidence

The Crown Prosecution Service considered that there were significant reliability and credibility issues with the evidence. Whilst a detailed Commercial Property Grant Scheme Procedure Manual was produced by Pembrokeshire County Council, it is accepted that the case officers were not trained properly and that staff administrating the scheme did not carry out sufficient checks on the work completed before payment was made.
The Crown Prosecution Service considered that there was conflicting evidence in relation to what proof of defrayment was acceptable; in relation to whether the work done at different properties was completed to the required standard; if all work paid for was in fact eligible to be paid for under the grant; the competence or otherwise of the case worker.

Overall, it was considered that the evidence from representatives of Pembrokeshire County Council was conflicting and was not consistently credible and reliable. It would be open to challenge by the defence and the prosecutor considered that a jury properly directed would not convict in this case.

It is also worth noting that whilst the grant money (£189,224.26) has been repaid to Pembrokeshire County Council in full, this has not informed the decision making process. As the evidential test was not been met, the Crown Prosecution Service have not been required to consider the public interest test, where this information would have been taken into account in reaching a charging decision.

I understand that some people may be disappointed with the decision that has been reached. There is also learning for Pembrokeshire County Council in terms of administrating any future grant schemes. If you are unhappy with the decision that has been reached, you may consider the Victims’ Right of Review Scheme and further information is available on the following link.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/victims-right-review-scheme

In order to do this, you should (normally) contact CPS within five working days from the date of the communication of the decision, to advise that you would like them to review the decision. You should quote file reference URN – 63CH0083916 and contact the Cardiff Office at the following address.

Specialist Fraud Division
Crown Prosecution Service
19th Floor
Capital Tower
Cardiff
CF10 3PL

Yours sincerely

Steve Cockwell

Detective Chief Superintendent
Head of CID


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26 Comments...

  • Tony Brinsden

    I am totally disgusted with this decision and feel ashamed to have been a member of the Dyfed-Powys Police Force.

    This was a relatively simple fraud to investigate and it is the tardy and unprofessional way in which the fraud squad went about it that has led to this result.

  • Tim

    Doesn’t come as a surprise and would have been log forgotten about if it wasn’t for you and Mike.

    Now we need to know what lessons will be be learned from this.

    The audit and Legal department need to ensure safeguards are put in place to endure this doesn’t happen again and if it does a the evidence can and must be retained in a way which can be used by the police in a criminal investigation.

  • Keanjo

    It could only happen in Pembrokeshire.

    An investigation into a relatively simple example of bureaucratic bungling takes almost as long as it took to defeat Hitler’s Germany.

    There really is no hope.

  • Flashbang

    What a crock! CPS, DPP and PCC, The Trump administration would be proud of your efforts to cover up a blatantly obvious case of corruption and conspiracy to defraud.

    If you can’t trust the Police and Judiciary to do their jobs properly, who can you trust?

    What a pity that the aforementioned three expect everyone else to live by the rules when they actively disregard them.

  • Malcolm Calver

    What hope is there for present and more importantly future generations when we have both elected representatives i.e. county councillors and those paid out of the public purse i.e. PCC, CPS and Dyfed-Powys Police open to what I can only suggest is corruption?

    There really is as Jacob described it an unhealthy “cosy” relationship between certain public bodies.

  • Richie S.

    Looking forward to seeing this sorry state of affairs featured in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column!

    There are some rotten apples that need clearing out of PCC, CPS and Dyfed-Powys Police!

  • Chas.

    I think that we need a public enquiry to look into the whole sorry process, or a Judicial Review of the decision not to prosecute.

    A shameful episode in the history of Welsh ‘justice’.

  • Gene

    Mike Stoddart was clearly warned by police in council chambers last year!

    https://pembrokeshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/342555/start_time/1332000?force_language_code=en_GB

    He has to accept some of the blame here, as clearly stated by CPS.

  • Patrick

    The CPS report needs to be seen in full, having seen the Webcast with Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Cockwell
    Head of CID.

  • Mike Stoddart

    Gene, the statement that:

    “A Councillor has published a number of articles on their local blog regarding the grant scheme, despite being warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as investigation was live”, is simply not true.

    As I said at yesterday’s meeting, I have not had even a single warning from the police along these lines and when I challenged Det Chief Supt Cockwell to substantiate this claim he fell silent.

    My recollection is that, during the audit committee meeting on 23 March 2018, whose webcast you have linked to, there was a general warning about publication of a particular letter from Detective Inspector Cameron Ritchie.

    The minutes record:

    “The Committee then discussed whether the letter received by the Chairman from Detective Inspector Cameron Ritchie, which he had subsequently shared with Audit Committee Members, was now a public document and should be disclosed. The Detective Chief Superintendent [Williams] asked that the document not be disclosed to the public in the interests of a right to a fair trial and that it could undermine the investigation. He also highlighted that CPS may not proceed with a prosecution if they believe had impacted on a right to a fair trial.

    The Committee then sought further clarity on the status of the letter in respect of whether it was a public document, with it being highlighted that the letter was now a background document to the agenda; and that to avoid it being a public document the item should have been discussed in private session.”

    The legal situation, as I understood it, was that once the letter had been discussed in open session it became a public document under S 100 Local Government Act 1972.

    The Head of Legal Services seemed to agree with that view:

    “In response to legal advice sought the Head of Legal and Democratic Services advised that from a Council perspective the document had been circulated to Members of the Audit Committee and therefore it was her impression that it was a public document and therefore could be disclosed accordingly; however, she drew attention to the clear advice from Detective Chief superintendent Williams in relation to the implications of sharing that document in regards to whether a fair trial could actually be effected and it should be taken into consideration by Members in regards to the status of that particular letter.”

    So, even though the letter was a public document by virtue of the law, the council nevertheless felt it was appropriate to withhold it from publication.

    So much for the Rule of Law!

    The proper procedure, had the committee wished to keep the contents of the letter out of the public domain, was to use its powers to exclude the public under S 100A(4) of the 1972 Act.

    Finally, if there was anything said during that meeting that might have prejudiced a fair trial, it was Det Chief Superintendent Williams’ statement that:

    “…he personally believed that prosecution should be pursued and that he would be making that recommendation to the leading investigating officer to make CPS aware.”

  • Malcolm Calver

    The revelations as seen in the webcast do not give the public much confidence in either the CPS or Dyfed-Powys police.

    Taking five years to investigate and then finally ending with the CPS declining to prosecute what is a simple case of claims being submitted for building work, said to have been carried out, but not actually done, beggars belief.

    God help us if Dyfed-Powys Police ever have to investigate and prosecute a serious fraud involving Pembrokeshire County Council or its councillors’ handling of public money.

  • Wynne

    Just viewed webcast. Excellent questions/comments from yourself Jacob and Mike Stoddart.

    This matter should have been resolved in 5 months, not 5 years.

    Best wishes to both of you in taking this matter further in appeal to CPS.

  • Gene

    Mike Stoddart was warned not to publish the letter or comment publicly on the investigation. The warning is clearly given by Shane Williams.

    Nothing can be said by Mike Stoddart to change this, it is fact.

    Mike is obviously aware an investigation is ongoing, as he refers to it on his blog frequently.

    He can continue to deny it, but he has to accept that despite his commendable hard work work and efforts, his ignorance has ultimately contributed to the CPS not bringing charges. Not a great outcome, but time to move on.

  • Gene, Mike disputes that he was ever warned, let alone “numerous times” – and so do I.

    The 12th July letter states:

    “A Councillor has published a number of articles on their local blog regarding the grant scheme, despite being warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as investigation was live.”

    The ordinary meaning of this claim is that the police, at the time of writing that letter, knew that either or both of the blogging councillors had been put on notice by the police, directly and individually, not to publish details relating to the investigation, that such correspondence took place on more than one occasion, and that the instructions or warnings were disregarded.

    I don’t agree with your claim that the officer’s request at the audit committee regarding a specific letter he wished not to be disclosed can be considered one of those claimed “numerous” warnings.

    In any case, this was not a letter Mike Stoddart had in his control individually, or as part of the audit committee (of which he was not, at that time, even a member) and he has not in fact published that letter, either.

    Perhaps you’re referring to the same officer’s general reference to sub-judice – a legal term he couldn’t even pronounce properly. Sub-judice, or the contempt of court, was not even invoked at that stage, or, as we now know, ever at all in this lengthy investigation because not a single arrest has ever been made.

    You may well believe the claim that a blogging councillor was to blame for the collapse of this case, but the public aren’t going along with this lame excuse – which, along with “the dog ate my hard drive” seems to be the best the authorities can come up with.

    These are the same authorities whose sham investigation and handling of the alleged scam have been almost as widely covered – and in unflattering terms – as the irregularities they were supposed to be investigating.

    As an exercise, you may also take the police’s line to its logical conclusion, and wonder how any criminal case resulting from journalistic efforts ever makes it to court.

    I note that your comment uses the same sort of lingo we’ve come to expect from embattled representatives of public bodies caught out in corruption, crass failures, or with their trousers down, as often covered in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs column.

    I’m specifically referring to your line “…time to move on.”

    The only bit you missed out was “nothing to see here!”

  • It would be helpful if Gene could reveal his true identity so that we might see if he has an axe to grind.

    Just to remind him that Detective Chief Superintendent Cockwell wrote:

    “A Councillor has published a number of articles on their local blog regarding the grant scheme, despite being warned on numerous occasions by police not to do so as investigation was live.”

    To dredge up what Detective Chief Superintendent Shane Williams told an audit committee in March 2019 (almost five years after PCC first handed the dossier of evidence to the police) about the publication of a letter that was, anyway, already in the public domain, smacks of desperation.

    In any case, even if this did constitute a warning, a single incident hardly qualifies as “numerous occasions”.

    Finally, all three bullet points in DPP’s letter published above were in play either before (lost hard drive and internal investigation) or soon after (my blogposts) the police investigation started.

    Perhaps Gene can explain why it took more than five years for the penny to drop.

  • Keanjo

    If the police had investigated this case with reasonable diligence, it should have been concluded within 12 months of being referred to them for investigation early in 2014.

    This attempt to blame Mike Stoddart for their abject failure in this case is entirely unsatisfactory.

    They should apologise publicly.

  • Patrick

    How come we had a BBC programme called Crimewatch for thirty years, mostly about ongoing investigations, with total police compliance?

    As for the unavailable hard drive explanation, it sounds very cobbled together.

  • Barrie Smith

    A lot of questions need to be asked.

    Why has it taken so long to come to this conclusion?

    What was the reason for paying back all the grant monies?

    Who did the computer whose hard drive has gone missing belong to?

    Who authorised the removal of the hard drive and where are the logs showing the work being carried out?

    It’s a shame that the good name of Pembrokeshire is being brought into disrepute.

    What about MP Mr Crabb getting involved and getting another police force to investigate this issue, he never gets involved in any issues regarding PCC.

  • Malcolm Calver

    There is no need for Stephen Crabb or Simon Hart to get involved in this as it is a simple case. Their interference would be a waste of time and only complicate matters.

    I am sure Mike and Jacob, as long as they live long enough, and I am sure they will, will see justice done but watch out for more council employee early retirements.

  • Mark

    It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Dyfed-Powys Police messed up here. Many will believe it was a deliberate mishandling of the case, especially since DPP has a truly abysmal track record.

    I don’t know much about the relationship between the police forces in general and the CPS, but there is certainly a way a police force could influence how a case they are pretending to investigate never makes it to court.

    This would simply be achieved by the police handing over an intentionally weak case. The CPS would then have no other option than to say “there is insufficient evidence.”

    Anybody who values justice will always wonder, how come the evidence was uncovered and publicised by councillors, handed to the police, and yet never resulted in a prosecution? Not even a small amount of the alleged fraud has made it to court.

    This is the same evidence that the council officers and senior councillors tried to rubbish, along with their attempts to smear Mike Stoddart, as part of their cover-up.

    As others have said, the attempt to lay blame for the failure of this case at Mike Stoddart’s door is truly contemptible. He deserves an apology from the police force, from DCS Steve Cockwell, and if DCS Cockwell’s letter is an accurate representation of the secret CPS report, the CPS.

    Again, it’s interesting to note that not only do we not know what the police handed over to the CPS, but we don’t and maybe never will know what the CPS told the police in refusing to take the case forward.

    The stench with this one gets stronger and stronger.

  • Jon Coles

    I just want to take a few moments to deal with what the letter from DCS Steve Cockwell to Ian Westley says.

    The law provides that words mean what they say on their face, ie the normal sense of the words as they might be understood by a reasonable person.

    The words in question are ‘was warned on numerous occasions’.

    The verb form ‘(he) was warned’ conveys a direct action. It asserts, as a fact, a councillor was warned by the Police.

    The sense conveyed by the words preceding the verb suggests that warning was direct and personal. No other construction of the relationship between the verb and its object makes sense.

    The next part is ‘on numerous occasions.’ ‘Numerous’ is certainly more than one and conveys the sense that it was on more than two or three occasions, as well.

    The sentence reads, therefore, in its normal sense, that either Mike Stoddart or Jacob Williams were spoken to DIRECTLY by Police officers IN PERSON on a number of occasions large enough to be unspecified.

    That assertion is utter BS.

    It is certainly wrong in fact and potentially defamatory at law to suggest that either Jacob Williams or Mike Stoddart did anything to thwart the Police investigation.

    I asked the Police for evidence to support the sense of their statement regarding unnamed councillors. I did so, having spoken to both Jacob and Mike and received their categorical denials.

    The Police could provide none.

    They had to ask me for a copy of the letter sent by DCS Cockwell to Mr Westley, circulated to councillors, because they did not have it to hand.

    Concerning the letter referred to in the Audit Committee Meeting held last year, I can say the following: had any member of the press been present (I watched on the webcast) they would have received a copy of the letter as it was/is a public document.

    It was only at the last moment that the police officer attending the meeting, Shane Williams, asked it to be kept under wraps.

    Neither Jacob Williams nor Mike Stoddart released a copy of that letter. Moreover, the Council refused to disclose its content even after the voluntary one month’s purdah regarding its content had elapsed.

    Again, I know. I asked for it.

    I don’t know who ‘Gene’ is, but if it is some clown from the IPG sticking their neck out, please remember that the gutless wonders not only tried to block any investigation but said naff all at last Thursday’s meeting in public when they had the chance.

    If it’s a copper, then the situation is even direr.

    If it’s an officer, they should be sacked.

  • Jon Coles is surely right.

    According to my dictionary numerous = many, and several = more than two but not many.

    So the “numerous warnings” in DCS Cockwell’s letter are a figment of his imagination.

    DCS Cockwell came before the council to explain the CPS’s decision not to prosecute.

    However, the “numerous warnings” bit must have originated with the police so we have to wonder what else in his letter isn’t the CPS’s own work (see Mark above).

    Interestingly, the CPS put out a statement yesterday after charging Charlie Elphicke MP with sexual offences.

    According to Guido Fawkes’ website, the statement reads:

    The CPS made the decision to charge Mr Elphicke after reviewing a file of evidence from the Metropolitan Police.

    The CPS reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Elphicke are now active and that he has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.

    Nobody has been arrested or charged in the Pembroke Dock grants case so the proceedings are not active and the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 do not therefore apply.

  • John Davies

    We now have an elected Police and Crime Commissioner. PCCs have been elected by the public to hold Chief Constables and the force to account, effectively making the police answerable to the communities they serve.

    Why don’t we ask him to sort out this mess. If he can’t what is the point of him?

  • Flashbang

    I would like to see Mr Llywelyn or former Commissioner Christopher Salmon explain to the taxpayers of the county why his force let the grants affair at Pembrokeshire County Council be sidelined when the evidence of alleged corruption was presented to your force on a plate.

    Why was evidence allowed to be removed and why was a hard drive crucial to the investigation not copied or seized?

    Why did Det Chief Supt Cockwell try to malign in public the county councillor who first brought the scandal to the attention of the public?

    What evidence was withheld from the CPS to make them decide a prosecution was not going to be launched?

    This case looks very much like a whitewash under your oversight Commissioner, as was not recording 3,000+ crimes (9/12/18, Western Telegraph) to show that there was less crime than the actual numbers reporting it.

  • Sue

    I find it incredulous that the council claim that vital information is stored on a PC hard drive.

    Councils have a duty, as owners of large data sets of personal information, to have policies and procedures to protect corporate data.

    These procedures should prohibit staff from storing data on individual hard drives so it can be kept securely.

    The question must be how many other members of staff are following the same practice. This has to be a breach of the data protection act.

  • Henry

    As a person who spent all of his working life in construction reaching before retirement a high management position with one of the world leaders in engineering and construction, and like all who comment on this blog, I have found it hard to understand the logic behind the CPS and police stance on the matter.

    In my forty years I must have dealt with hundreds if not thousands of interim and final payments both as a contractor and as a project manager acting for a client.

    I can understand the difficulty to proving fraud with an interim certificate. With retention and with the contract work incomplete the checking of the validity on an invoice may not receive the level of checking it should have but in almost all cases there is time to correct mistakes in later invoices. But in the case of completed work then the calculation of quantities should be 100% accurate and strictly compliant to the contractual measurement for payment.

    So if a contractor submits a final invoice and this invoice is accepted by the client only to be found out later that there were serious errors in the final submission, is the contractor being fraudulent?

    If accused of fraud his first line of defence would be that the client checked the invoice and found no fault with it while at the same time making the point that the contractual terms were difficult to understand since they also confused the client.

    But when you get to this stage you have a more difficult conundrum to solve: why did the client’s representative approve the invoice, was there collusion, or was the person who agreed the quantities and calculations not up to the job?

    With this in mind it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that since the contractor has offered to repay the client for contract over-payment you would not wish to go down this route.

    It would not surprise me if the CPS had no stomach for the fight, technically there was no money obtained by fraud and trying to prove collusion or incompetence would only muddy the waters.

    Since this whole sorry mess occurred prior to Ian Westley’s elevation to Chief Executive, I do hope he has put in place an internal review to establish how the performance of those approving interim and final payments can improve their performance so that there are no further occurrences of this nature.

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