New year, new stories…

Stephen Chan – another fine appointment, despite sharing a name with a convicted fraudster

Blwyddyn newydd dda to all readers of The Eye!

We have exposed a series of scandals in 2016.

The Eye revealed how an academic at a Welsh university, shared an identical name with a fraudster.

A Stephen Chan was jailed for more than four years in Boston after a multi-million dollar fraud, and ordered to pay restitution of $12,596,298.

As we asked the university directly in February and to which we had no reply:  “Is it the same Stephen Chan who was appointed as a professor to your management school?”.

Freedom of Information request followed, but details would not be released.

The Chan at Swansea university was “Professor of Smarter Cities for a Safer Planet and the Internet of Things”.

But his qualifications were raised in the Welsh Assembly.

Swansea university said we were “vexatious”

Chan’s contract was abruptly terminated after our disclosures.

Swansea university said curtly:  “This engagement has now come to an end.

“We have no further comment.”

Our questions clearly irritated the university because further information about him was refused, on the grounds we were “vexatious”.

We also turned our attention to another university in Wales during last year.

April McMahon considers her position

Aberystwyth.

The controversial former Vice-Chancellor, April McMahon, finally departed after we predicted she may be forced out.

With her at the helm a new campus had been opened on the holiday island of Mauritius which a previous Vice-Chancellor had described as “madness”.

She had presided over a disastrous slide in the institution’s rankings in the UK, yet had received a huge pay rise of 9.5 per cent to more than £200,0000 a year which was “performance related”.

Crime too was the subject of our investigations.

We were the first to divulge that a man pretending he was a multi-millionaire investor, and offering financial advice to property buyers at glitzy presentations, was in fact a conman.

Howard Williams had been in jail for a string of offences, and we disclosed the length of his prison sentences.

Howard Williams has been jailed in total for four years and four months, involving 25 counts of deception over more than a decade.

He had also been a dealer in illegal drugs, and had his legs broken when a deal went wrong

Williams does not tell clients he is a convicted criminal

A bankruptcy order was issued against Williams last year.

He was also made bankrupt, in 2002 and 2010, yet gives guidance to those buying and selling homes.

We have also covered politics in our own special way.

During the last year we have exposed how the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s media man in Wales was a convicted armed bank robber.

Jamie Insole had been jailed for eight years at Cardiff Crown Court.

He had worn a combat jacket with mask, and used an imitation Second World War pistol to take money from a frightened Barclays bank cashier, because he was “fed up with nothing to do” waiting for his A-level results.

He took £1,147 before being overpowered by two passers-by and told police he had been “acting out a fantasy”.

After our revelations he said on social media: “we all make mistakes”.

 

 

We showed how one Welsh Assembly Member caused fury within her Labour party, and among her own constituents in a poor area of South Wales by posting pictures of her feet on a sun lounger in Italy.

It’s a hard life for an AM

In July Dawn Bowden, the AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, had put comments about her foreign holiday on Twitter.

One constituent who voted for her told The Eye at the time: “She should have more consideration for the people in Merthyr who are using food banks and are living well below the bread line”.

These are just a few of the stories we have brought you in 2016.

Our satirical writer Edwin Phillips has poked fun at politicians and institutions which influence our lives.

Throughout the year we have been bombarded with complaints, and legal threats; the satirical pieces have been no exception.

A typical second one from the same person before Christmas read:  “… satire is no defence against libel… I will be placing it (the satirical article) in the hands of our lawyers.”

But we have been heartened by the support we receive from ordinary people.

There has been fierce criticism of the lack of journalistic scrutiny in the Welsh media, with ‘stories’ reduced to lists, clickbait journalism and articles about the opening of bars.

Legal threats have come thick and fast

As one commentator put it at the end of last month:  “…the future for the Welsh public sphere lies in exploring innovative non-statist alternative media forms…”.

We like to think we are doing our bit!

Yet our work costs money.

The bill for legal checks of every story alone is very high.

We are sustained almost exclusively through voluntary donations.

Please donate to keep us independent and strong.

Bring on 2017!

 

On Wednesday why the Welsh Government broke the law over divulging information about the internet in Wales.

Two days later an examination of Aberystwyth university, as the new Vice-Chancellor asks for help from her controversial predecessor. 

 

Try our interactive New Year quiz (the first one’s easy!):