A North Wales Police officer was severely reprimanded after a botched investigation into an extraordinary attack over the internet and death threats which followed afterwards, Wales Eye can reveal.
The force had to issue a formal apology and one of the officers at the centre of the inquiry, PC Steven Robins, was ordered to receive management training from his senior inspector, according to internal documents we have seen.
The police inquiry focused on statements by Royston Jones on his website.
Mr Jones is a a right of centre nationalist who uses the pseudonym ‘Jac o’ the North’.
In a virulent published attack he targeted Jacques Protic who writes for another website Glasnost.ORG.UK.
Mr Jones wrote, in the first statements on his blog in August of last year: ”I was hoping to avoid this, but it has to be said – Protic is a Serb” (Mr Protic’s father worked for the Yugoslavian National Bank and he left the country when he was a teenager).
Mr Jones engaged in an ‘expose’ of Mr Protic and in another post wrote: ”By whatever route he reached his present state, I conclude that Jacques Protic is a broken reed, still capable of making ugly noises when a Welsh breeze catches him, but a man of little consequence; an irritant, but nothing more.
"After what I’ve unearthed I’m almost feeling sorry for him.
Soon after the publications, Mr Protic received a number of harassing telephone calls.
He was told he should be put down "like a mad dog" and his car tyres were slashed.
One of the telephone callers to his home said: "I will do your fucking head in".
This violent message was on speakers and upset his 10 year old daughter who was listening.
But Mr Protic, whose home town is Chester and who now lives somewhere in north Wales, was deeply alarmed by the standard of investigation undertaken by the police which followed the published comments of Royston Jones, and he launched an official complaint.
Some of his points were not accepted, but one was formally conceded.
The documents, seen by Wales Eye, reveal that PC Robins did not even examine the website which, according to Mr Protic, may have started the campaign against him.
Inspector Ian Verburg of North Wales police gave details of the internal investigation they conducted.
Inspector Verburg is considered a high-flyer in the force.
He was the district inspector in Llandudno Junction last October when it was announced crime had fallen by 16.4 per cent.
Describing a ‘good citizen scheme’ he said: ”This is one of a number of initiatives in Llandudno Junction aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour and the crimes that affect the community.”
Following the inquiry into police handling of Mr Protic’s case, a report by Inspector Verburg, dated March 24, was compiled.
It states: "The complaint is upheld in relation to Pc Robins investigation into report xxxxx.
"Pc Robins should have reviewed (the Jac o’ the North) website… in order that he could make an informed decision as to whether there were any criminal offences at that time and any risk that needed managing coming from the complaint.
"Pc Robins will receive management action from his Inspector.
"This action will be in the form of structured advice and learning as to what should have happened in order to prevent this occurring again.
"I would like to offer an apology in respect (of) this part of the complaint on behalf of the Organisation.”
Another part of Inspector Verburg’s ‘finalisation report’ reads: "Feedback to be given regarding officer being spoken to and District Inspector being updated.
"Result – District Inspector is xxxx.
"He has been spoken to and has devised an appropriate action plan.
"This includes a number of actions including a warning marker being placed on the home address of Mr Protic to inform future reports.
"A specific point of contact (SPOC) has been allocated by xxxx for Mr Protic and this is to be Temporary Inspector xxxx and he will make contact with Mr Protic to go through all the points on the action plan."
The apology from North Wales police, and acceptance of responsibility, is highly unusual.
It followed a bungled investigation involving a number of officers, which came after the article by Royston Jones, and the series of telephone calls to Mr Protic’s home, along with the vandalisation of his car.
Mr Jones is known for his outspoken views and has over 600 followers on Twitter, but comments he published on his website about disabled athletes provoked controversy two years ago.
One of the lines which caused particular offence, was: "Am I alone in thinking there’s an element of a Victorian freak show in the Paralympics?”
Afterwards a post on the Republic website concluded: ”(Royston Jones was) awarded … that week’s Full of Shit award.
"It was well merited (as this was a) primitive attitude to disabled people.”
After the award it was revealed by Wales Eye (see ) the ‘Jac o’ the North’ website is now under investigation by another police force for possible breaches in the laws on incitement to racial hatred.
An earlier blog post resulted in him being shut down.
Mr Jones said: "My first blog was closed down …
"My current hosting arrangement makes it more difficult for such pressure to be applied.
"Which is why I’m wondering if WalesEye is allowing itself to be used as a cat’s-paw by more sinister elements hoping to close down dissenting voices".
As one commentator who has closely scrutinised the work of Royston Jones told Wales Eye: "This is the poisonous bile of a conservative - with a small ‘c’ - nationalist."
Even so he does have his supporters while Wales Eye stand accused of being "un-Welsh".
A writer on the blog Y Cneifwr said:
"It (Wales Eye) set out with the aim of being a sort of Welsh Private Eye, combining satire with investigative journalism, but there has always been something deeply puzzling and rather un-Welsh about it from the start.
“I like Jac.
"To me, and I suspect some other Welsh bloggers, Jac is the black sheep uncle your mother and aunts hope won’t show up at the wedding, but you know he will liven things up.
Wales Eye have carried pieces from leading figures in all political parties and criticised the policies of them all.
Last month we revealed the link between a leading Welsh Labour MP and a ‘glamour’ photographer (see )
But the Y Cyneifwr writer remains convinced Wales Eye are a secret vehicle for a political party.
He said: “I used to think that WalesEye was run out of Labour’s spin machine in Cardiff, but perhaps it is really a Ukip front.
"Either way, it’s hard to tell the difference"
In this case it seems ‘livening things up’ may have resulted in death threats, slashed car tyres, and a bungled police investigation, while "deeply puzzling" and being "un-Welsh" remain the blog’s key criticisms of Wales Eye.
Meanwhile, Jacques Protic believes the articles about him on the Jac o’ the North website and the police inquiry which followed, could have been prompted by his public views on Welsh language education
Mr Protic is concerned by what he believes are the extremely bad effects.
He said: ”I simply could not ignore the deceit applied by the Welsh government in imposing Welsh language that was damaging children and effectively stealing their future from them.
"I expected support from North Wales Police after what happened to me but I didn’t get it."
Freedom of expression in an open society is important.
But the importance is cast in a different light if it leads to a campaign of harassment and a botched police inquiry.