Ein GWLAD are not going to join the flock of vultures hovering in lazy gliding circles in the sky above this inquiry which is now in progress. We will not comment until it is over and a final report published on the findings. Conversely, there are mainstream media organisations, primarily the BBC and the Labour-backing press in our country (The Trinity Mirror Group) who are busy relaying word for word what is being said as this inquiry rolls on.
However, as we read their hour by hour reports, it cannot escape our attention that whilst the reports are, we are sure, accurately mirroring what is being recorded in evidence, there does already appear to be a slight leaning in their tendency to push their readers in a certain direction. Note the picking out of certain tit-bits that are used as headlines or tag-lines and highlighted in bold. Drawing attention to certain words within the text. An example being this line in the published suicide note left by Sargeant:
Dear Bernie, Lucy, Jack, family / friends,
I have let you down badly. You deserve none of this adverse publicity ‘cause of my actions. I have failed you.
That aside, I love you more than you will ever know, and I’m sorry I have taken the easy way out leaving you with my shit. Please forgive me.
I love you, Carl / dad
I’m sure you get the idea. No such emphasis was applied to certain sentences by the persons giving their verbal testimony. Are we being ultra critical? I think not, these are subtle little, almost sublingual, messages to their readers.
John Gittins the coroner begins by telling the court:
My role is not about judging people but judging evidence.”
Mr Gittins said there was no room in his court room for speculation or accusation, adding:
“This will not be a trial by press, politics or personality.”
Amen to that! Too often in the past the mainstream press and the media have been given a free hand in their often misleading or biased reporting – sometimes even called ‘false news’ reporting. Often putting speculation and sensationalism before actual facts and evidence.
Most of us assume that big, projected as ‘respectable’ organisations always report accurately, sadly that is not the case. They are very suspect in their modus operandi – often not just distorting the news, but showing blatant bias. The equally undesirable technique they use is ‘news blackout’, where news that does not suit the establishment, or goes against the line of their propaganda is simply not reported to the public in the UK. World events of staggering importance and significance are often purposely ignored. Events that can be used to over publicize the establishment’s agenda is pumped out incessantly, until we’re sick of hearing about it – assuming it’s accurate in the first place.
In Wales we have an added hurdle. Virtually all of our ‘home grown’ press is by now owned by the Labour party backing huge media empire called the Trinity Mirror group. So we are fed a constant flow of biased political news to read, which is basically geared to promote the london Labour party. This is disguised by local news of insignificant content about Wales, and of course a big ‘patriotic and patronising’ display of the coverage of sports events, especially rugby, and lately football as well.
The BBC especially have form when it comes to this. Some time back you’ll recall the massive amounts they paid out to Cliff Richard (our money that is) for the way they influenced public opinion of the singer. They turned themselves into inquisitors, making themselves the jury, judge and executioner. I have no idea if there were any foundations for their assumed portrayal of someone’s wrong doing, without a shred of evidence to support their actions. No one ever discovered who the complainant was. Furthermore the Police were complicit, as they leaked the time and date of their ‘raid’ on Richard’s house. Whether he was guilty of wrongdoing or not is immaterial (I never did like his cheesy song portfolio) BUT he was deprived of his right to Natural Justice, that’s the important thing to remember. His reputation was shattered and he evidently suffered emotional pain. That’s not right in a free society.
On the other hand, the despicable paedophile and sexual predator Jimmy Saville, who worked for the BBC was hidden away from the public until he died, thanks to the BBC who shielded him, thereby causing heartache and ruined lives, whilst his employers who knew about him just simply didn’t act or tell anyone about him.
Another example in the political landscape is the despicable way that Neil McEvoy has (and still is) being victimised and treated by Plaid Cymru, and their bedfellows in the lobbying group that calls itself Deryn. Again, like Sargeant, he was never given the right to natural justice. There were failings within the party to implement proper procedure. he was accused of something, but never given the opportunity to defend himself, and never made party to who accused him. This is the deplorable situation that exists in this modern atmosphere of accusation and instant kangaroo court justice meted out by people who are not qualified to do so. The excuse being the protection of the anonymity of the accuser. never mind the one accused of alleged actions – who has his or her career ruined, their character permanently tainted or, in Carl Sargeant’s case, even suffering a worse outcome? It is a putrid reflection of where we have arrived at as a society. It needs to be stopped in it’s tracks. When vague accusation – usually surrounding some alleged sexual misconduct – can get rid of a person from his position, often to serve someone’s purposes, it’s the time to draw a line. There should also be clear guidelines regarding the validity of accusations a “he touched my knee forty years ago” type accusation is not good enough.
Alex Salmond is currently going through the same ordeal in Scotland. It seems that the shortcut to getting rid of someone is to get someone to bring accusations against them. Instead of keeping the claimed victim and alleged perpetrator anonymous until a court has decided on guilt. They are sentenced by the media and press, and sometimes their own party, before they are given a fair chance to defend themselves. The real reason behind this is because people in all walks of like have been intimidated and bullied into fearing consequences through their contact with the accused.
His family say Carl Sargeant was not told the details of the accusations and could not properly defend himself. They say he was deprived of “natural justice”. His family said further in statements that Mr Sargeant’s distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded “common courtesy, decency or natural justice”.
They have hit out at the Labour party investigation into the former Welsh Assembly member.
The Meaning of Natural Justice
What are the rules of natural justice?
The principles of natural justice concern procedural fairness and ensure a fair decision is reached by an objective decision maker (e.g a judge or similar).
Maintaining procedural fairness protects the rights of individuals and enhances public confidence in the process.
A word used to refer to situations where audi alteram partem (the right to be heard) and nemo judex in parte sua (no person may judge their own case) apply.
The principles of natural justice were derived from the Romans who believed that some legal principles were “natural” or self-evident and did not require a statutory basis.
These two basic legal safeguards govern all decisions by judges or government officials when they take quasi-judicial or judicial decisions.
Three common law rules are referred to in relation to natural justice or procedural fairness.
The Hearing Rule
This rule requires that a person must be allowed an adequate opportunity to present their case where certain interests and rights may be adversely affected by a decision-maker.
To ensure that these rights are respected, the deciding authority must give both the opportunity to prepare and present evidence and to respond to arguments presented by the opposite side.
When conducting an investigation in relation to a complaint it is important that the person being complained against is advised of the allegations in as much detail as possible and given the opportunity to reply to the allegations.
The Bias Rule
This second rule states that no one ought to be judged in his or her case. This is the requirement that the deciding authority must be unbiased when according the hearing or making the decision.
Additionally, investigators and decision-makers must act without bias in all procedures connected with the making of a decision.
A decision-maker must be impartial and must make a decision based on a balanced and considered assessment of the information and evidence before him or her without favouring one party over another.
Even where no actual bias exists, investigators and decision-makers should be careful to avoid the appearance of bias. Investigators should ensure that there is no conflict of interest which would make it inappropriate for them to conduct the investigation.
The Evidence Rule
The third rule is that an administrative decision must be based upon logical proof or evidence material.
Investigators and decision makers should not base their decisions on mere speculation or suspicion.
Rather, an investigator or decision maker should be able to clearly point to the evidence on which the inference or determination is based.
Evidence (arguments, allegations, documents, photos, etc.) presented by one party must be disclosed to the other party, who may then subject it to scrutiny.
It is Ein GWLAD’s stated aim to address these problems in a fair and just society
Political correctness & vague accusations by anonymous people MUST be done away with.
Natural Justice must ALWAYS be adhered to in all circumstances of accusations.
Recently retired Consultant Electronics Engineer, now living in Aberaeron Ceredigion. Educated at Bronant County Primary School, Tregaron County School and the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (Cardiff).
Involved in politics for nearly 50 years. Former vice president of Plaid Cymru – resigned in 2002. Currently the Chairman and a founding member of Ein Gwlad. Gwilym is also one of our permanent contributing editors at Ein Gwlad’s News Portal.