Jacob Williams
Monday 7th April, 2014

Frayling to declare?

Frayling to declare?

Of particular interest on my visit to Pembrokeshire County Council’s elections unit when I visited last week were the 2012 council election spending returns submitted by the Frayling brothers. Mainly because the Ombudsman’s investigation which, last month, resulted in a fortnight’s suspension for the authority’s deputy leader, Cllr. Rob Lewis, may never have happened without one of them.

Cllr. Lyndon Frayling successfully defended his Haverfordwest Garth ward seat at the 2012 election, whilst his brother Byron attempted to oust the then-IPG stalwart, Cllr. David Bryan.

It was only when the Partygate files came to Cllr. Bryan’s attention that he discovered a knife had been plunged into his back by the ruling party, the Independent Political Group, for which he had been a senior member for some years. Among the IPG’s sworn candidates that Cllr. Rob Lewis (the party’s then secretary and chief election strategist) had been creating election leaflets for using cabinet room computers, was, you’ve guessed it, Byron Frayling.

That’s loyalty for you!

Had it not been for Byron Frayling’s candidacy, Cllr. Bryan would have been returned unopposed without an election. In the event, he retained his Haverfordwest Priory seat with 87% of the votes, an increase on the already massive majority he retained it with four years earlier.

Cllr. Bryan referred the misuse of council computers to the Ombudsman, whose case file featured only Lyndon’s election literature, though both had literature created through the scheme. Within their legally-required imprints, both of them stated that they printed their own leaflets. Whether they did, or if they had them professionally printed at Clive James Design and Print was blasted wide open to speculation when Cllr. Rob Lewis told the Ombudsman that this was the outfit which printed a lot of the party’s candidates’ election leaflets, including his own.

Peter Stock Clive James invoiceYet during my inspection of the election expenditure returns I found no evidence submitted by a single one of the candidates featured in the Ombudsman’s case files that they had used Clive James Design and Print, apart from Cllr. Peter Stock.

As Old Grumpy has observed, Clive James is known to have created several candidates’ professional proofs, who then, it would appear by their financial returns, either went off and self-printed, or used Clive James or another printer but didn’t want anybody to know.

As far as the Fraylings are concerned, their election spending returns only included references to having paid out nominal amounts of cash – unsupported by receipts or invoices – for printing supplies.

The similarities in their returns are striking. Aside from the expenditure declared within them, they were both hand-written, the documents had the same date-stamps, and each brother evidenced the amounts of their nominal expenditure on a crudely-torn half-sheet of A4.

Not wishing to promote conspiracies where there aren’t any, I’ll have to give the Fraylings the benefit of the doubt, that they did print their own leaflets, and between them used up eight reams of paper, six black ink cartridges, and five colour, as evidenced by their scrawled tallies.

Upon slightly closer inspection it also became apparent that the tear marks on these two sheets of paper provided an identical match.

Byron & Lyndon Frayling election spending return

The additional colour ink cartridge Lyndon had to use could suggest that he is the more colourful Frayling brother. The Haverfordwest voters must have agreed!


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13 Comments...

  • Dave Edwards

    £18 per black cartridge for one brother but £18.70 per cartridge for the other one. Clear evidence that a different printer was used! Funny how the colour cartridges were the same price.

  • Melanie Phillips

    Some of us went to great lengths to keep all receipts, plus every trivial item that pertained to evidence of expenditure, before posting them to the returning officer.

    What a joke!!

  • Dave Edwards

    As an employee of PCC, Clive James is obliged to show no favour to any member or therefore no group of members.

    It is time that he stated, on the record, whether or not he printed election leaflets for any candidate other than Peter Stock?

  • Mayday

    Congratulations must go to the Frayling brothers for their ability to stretch that amount of paper and ink over the approximately 1800 registered electors in each of their wards. (Source: PCC election notice statistics).

    Of particular merit will be the long nights spent duplex printing their material (double sided – as per proofs in Partygate files) and cutting 1000 sheets of A4 in half to get the A5 fliers – something a professional printer would do as part of the print job. But then they didn’t use a professional printer – did they?

    Would a candidate submitting potentially incorrect/incomplete evidence amount to a breach of the electoral law? What does the Returning Officer have to say?

  • Keanjo

    Do we know if employees in certain County Council positions are subject to restrictions on taking on an additional job?

  • Dave Edwards

    Does anyone have a copy of the Fraylings’ leaflets?

  • Hi Dave, a reader of this blog contacted me privately to say they still have their copy of Byron’s leaflet if required.

  • Congratulations Jacob, on a ripping good yarn.

    I’m torn between whether to laugh or cry.

    Is that a tear in the paper, or is it just frayling at the edges?

  • Goldingsboy

    Mike,

    Your Frayling pun makes up for a lot of ground lost on that absolute gem from Jacob: Crème de la Kremlin; and the story of the matching tear lines in the paper, you might well agree, could have been lifted from a Cold-War spy story.

    It’s time, methinks, for the Returning Officer to justify his huge fees and look into the issue of candidates whose electoral returns appear less than full and accurate.

  • Goldingsboy,

    Créme de la Kremlin will take some topping, though I should point out that it was me who first christened County Hall the Kremlin on Cleddau.

    I have to admit the young whippersnapper is on a bit of a roll at the moment, but does he have the necessary staying power?

  • Jon Boy Jovi

    Has there been any development on the Cabinet meeting (cover up) today to discuss the WG grant suspension?

    Did anyone see Cllr. Nutting resign to force a by-election today or are the treads being deflected from the utterances made in his blogs? I still can’t find any definitive answers from him to the questions I posed in relation to education.

    Maybe my predicted Mad Monday ended up being a washout like our current weather.

  • Goldingsboy

    The elderly proprietor of that “other website” has, briefly I hope, turned his thoughts away from the greediness of the trough-feeders, and to the kind of business normally expected of a properly-run county council.

    It concerns the possible merging of two local schools and that we, the weary taxpayers of this county, can follow it through the wonders of modern technology. He opines that “a rather more intellectually rigorous standard of debate,” will be held on this occasion (sometime in May).

    I guess he is probably encouraged in his dream-like thoughts, that a particular IPG member has probably gained full access to The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

  • Goldingsboy

    You don’t have to be obsessive about politics to draw a clear distinction between the current situation at Westminster level, and the frustrating system of unaccountability we have here in Haverfordwest.

    In London, a minister finally resigns following allegations of unethical behaviour. Pressure from her constituents, party colleagues, the press and, finally, the leader of the cabinet of which she was a member, causes her to resign.

    Here, in Haverfordwest, the cabinet of Pembrokeshire County Council and its leader, despite a huge mass of evidence and the urging of both the local press and public…tells us all to get stuffed.

    Isn’t democracy wonderful?

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