1. Rules of the game

    An emergency meeting of Welsh rugby officials is due to take place today as the game slips further into crisis, Wales Eye can reveal.

    A senior official with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) will meet five rugby club representatives to discuss the growing emergency.

    The confrontation between the union and the clubs is set against a backdrop of revelations on Wales Eye that plans had been drawn up by the four rugby regions to break away from WRU control (see ).

    Meanwhile some grassroots rugby clubs have decided to mount a challenge of their own to a planned restructuring of the game in Wales.


    The history of rugby is deeply embedded in Welsh society but tortuous negotiations are underway to change it in future.

    Five division three clubs, are due to meet the union in a ‘workshop’ today on ways to improve the game.

    An earlier meeting was held on Friday between rugby clubs and the men in charge of the WRU in a bid to prevent legal action.

    It had been arranged at short notice by a WRU official.

    An internal email to rugby club officials seen by Wales Eye describes feelings of "anger" and "despair" among those at the grassroots level in rugby.

    In the email, a local rugby official said he had warned the WRU representative he might have to resort to legal action because of a refusal by the union’s senior management to respond to his concerns.

    He writes:  (The WRU official) conceded that something had to be done to avoid the threat of a prohibitive (legal) injunction, so he arranged for me to meet face-to-face with (WRU chief executive) Roger Lewis & (WRU chairman) David Pickering”


    The planned restructuring has not been warmly received by some grassroots rugby clubs and a description of the meeting on Friday between three of them and the WRU management offers a flavour of the tension.

    "The meeting was at times heated but there were some positive outcomes."

    The internal email continues:

    (The WRU official) agreed to take a proposal to the Board to set up a working party by the first week of August to look at ways of improving promotion and ambition for this coming season

    All parties agreed that there was scope to make changes around promotion and relegation for the lower leagues.

    All parties agreed that it was too close to the start of the season to change fixtures”.

    Problems with communications over the planned restructuring of the game are also referred to in the email.

    "It is important not to fall into the same trap as the WRU has previously, so we will be as open and honest as we can about what happens on Thursday.”

    The email concludes:

    "We believe that we are acting in the best interests of Welsh Rugby as a whole in challenging the restructure and seeking ways to improve the situation for the many, many clubs who do support us."

    But support for the WRU seems hard to find and there could be many more emergency meetings to come.

  2. Police interceptor

    A man wrongly jailed for 11 years after a crooked investigation, has defended the police handling of a violent riot in Cardiff city centre, Wales Eye can reveal.

    A top-level inquiry into police actions has been launched following the trouble at the weekend, after furniture and glasses were thrown during a peaceful protest march against Israeli military action in Gaza.

    South Wales Police have asked for video evidence of the riot, to establish how the violence began.

    But deep dismay has been expressed about the monitoring of the march, with one critic even questioning the motives of the police, and describing them as ‘abandoning’marchers.

    A Welsh Labour MP was at the rally and witnessed what took place.


    Now Michael O’Brien who was jailed for a murder he did not commit has supported the police.

    "I think they did what they could,"  he told Wales Eye.

    "I think it took them by surprise and they weren’t expecting that to happen."

    Two men who were not involved in the rally were arrested and officials have been accused of poor policing.

    But the police have defended their actions, and stressed that most of the march on Saturday was peaceful.

    Police Chief Inspector, Dan Howe, said the rioting was "alarming and violent" but did not represent the whole rally.

    Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, said:  "I’ve had a number of conversations with the police about the events and I’m assured the police are investigating the matter thoroughly."


    Tables, bar stools and glasses were thrown during the rally on Mill lane in the city.

    Newport councillor Majid Rahman criticised the police actions.

    He said:  "A lot of marchers were injured but because there was no police presence, the people who hurled glasses, tables and chairs got away with it. 

    "South Wales Police were poor - it was a lack of presence.

    "The response was inadequate, it was poor and they need to answer for this."

    A racist element to the riot is also being investigated.


    After the violence, Adam Johannes, one of the organisers of the march, said: "I personally witnessed glasses being thrown in the direction of children and families and parents pushing babies in prams, by thugs chanting the most vile racist abuse.

    "I saw beer deliberately being thrown at muslims on the march."

    Some critics have even queried why the police did not regulate the rally correctly.

    One marcher told Wales Eye:  "It was awful.

    "The police were nowhere to be seen and there were babies and small children there.

    "I think it was deliberate.

    "We were completely defenceless."

    The extent of the violence was filmed by onlookers and has appeared on social media sites.


    Particularly worrying for policy-makers, the riot comes just weeks before the NATO summit when world leaders will descend on the Celtic Manor Resort outside Newport a few miles away.

    A spokesperson for ‘No Nato Newport’, who were not connected with the violence, said:  "NATO has become an ever-expanding interventionist bloc, operating on a global scale.

    "NATO expansion has created a dangerous crisis in Ukraine which threatens a regional war."

    But now Michael O’Brien has come out in support of South Wales Police even though they were forced to pay him compensation after he was wrongly jailed.


    He was finally released along with two other men, Ellis Sherwood and Darren Hall, after spending 11 years in jail for the murder of a Cardiff newsagent in 1987.

    After Mr O’Brien taught himself law in prison, and a BBC Wales investigation was transmitted in the television current affairs series Week In, Week Out, the conviction was overturned.

    At the time this was one of the longest miscarriage of justice cases in Britain and it prompted huge criticism of the police.

    Mr O’Brien has written about his experience in the book The Death of Justice.

    In it he describes how he was dragged into a nightmare - the peaceful marchers in Cardiff may say the same thing.

  3. Prince of denials

    Prince Charles may have lobbied Welsh government ministers for changes in the law but requests for details have been denied, Wales Eye can reveal.

    A leading Welsh MP has attacked any "hidden information."

    A request for the knowledge to be made public was lodged under the Freedom of Information Act.

    But blanket exemptions in the act have been cited in withholding any information held by the Welsh government about lobbying of ministers by the heir to the throne.


    Prince Charles is known to be keen on certain areas such as defence spending, complementary medicine and education.

    Policy-makers are under enormous pressure to divulge how much he lobbies them about these, and other, subjects.

    The FoI request was made to the Welsh government by Republic Cymru, but in response a senior official told them:  "Information is exempt if it relates to - communications with the heir to, or the person who is for the time being second in line of succession to, the Throne.

    "This is an absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test."

    The official would not confirm or deny that information was held by the Welsh government about any lobbying by prince Charles.


    News of the secrecy surrounding Prince Charles comes as The Guardian newspaper continues a 9-year campaign to secure details of how he lobbied UK government ministers.

    Two months ago the paper received a major boost when the court of appeal ruled that Charles’ letters to ministers should be released.

    Judges decided the then attorney general, Dominic Grieve, had acted unlawfully by withholding the information.

    The letters, sometimes referred to as the ‘black spider memos’ because of the Prince’s handwriting, reportedly contain his, "most deeply-held personal views and beliefs".

    Loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act, so there can be no open scrutiny of the Prince’s actions, have enraged opponents of the monarchy.

    Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West told Wales Eye:  "This denial of information further illustrates the need for transparency of the eccentric lobbying by the Prince of Wales.

    "If there is hidden information that proves the Prince of Wales is not fit to be a monarch, his future subjects should be informed."

    Analysis of palace records shows that Prince Charles has held meetings with UK cabinet ministers at least 36 times since the 2010 general election.


    The heir to the thrown has met the prime minister, David Cameron, privately seven times and has seen ministers who have responsibility for areas in which he has taken a particular interest.

    He lobbied the government of former prime minister Tony Blair, to expand grammar schools and exerted pressure over issues such as genetically modified (GM) foods.

    Former education secretary David Blunket has spoken of how the Prince tried to change his mind on key issues.

    But perhaps the Welsh government are right, and we should not be given any information about whether Prince Charles interfered in the democratic process.

    We are after all only voters.

    Daran Hill’s weekly political column resumes after the summer recess.

  4. Fellow feeling

    Dozens of top academics have been named as fellows of the British Academy, but none from Wales. it has emerged.

    Forty two academics have been newly-elected to the academy, which acknowledges leading research in the humanities and social sciences, but no-one works at a Welsh university.

    Universities from all over Britain are represented with new fellows at the academy, among them institutions at Hull and Liverpool in England, and Strathclyde in Scotland.

    Academics from nineteen universities are included.


    The president of the British Academy, Lord Stern of Brentford, said: "Our fellows are elected from across the UK.

    "Together they represent an unrivalled reserve of expertise and knowledge."

    Welsh universities are known to favour research in the humanities and it will come as a shock that not a single academic has been elected to the academy.

    The news is set against concern about the performance of Higher, or Tertiary, Education (HE) colleges in Wales.

    No Welsh university appears in the top 20 Guardian ranking of British HE institutionswhich is popular among potential students.

    The highest is Cardiff at number 26 followed by Swansea at number 57 (see ).

    Aberystwyth university has performed particularly badly in all tables.


    In The Complete University Guide (CUG) the institution fell 17 places from 70 to 87.

    The disturbing news comes as Aberystwyth targets a place in the top 30 UK universities within the next three years.

    It is also set against a backdrop of continuing controversy at Aberystwyth where, according to the Times Higher Education, the annual salary of April McMahon has risen by 9.57 per cent in a year to £252,000, making her the highest-paid vice chancellor in Wales.

    Petitions have demanded Professor McMahon’s resignation.

    An online appeal calling for her to step down after only three years in the job, has collected more than 1,100 signatures. 

    Potential students are voting with their feet and it is understood applications to study at Aberystwyth university have fallen by almost a quarter.


    Fake pictures of the vice chancellor on a banknote have been circulating at Aberystwyth on Facebook (see ).

    A senior academic at the institution told Wales Eye:  "I don’t see how this can go on much longer.

    "We are falling in the university rankings while morale among staff is at rock-bottom."

    But at least Wales leads the way in one table.

    It is top when it comes to a lack of new British research fellows.


  5. Road to nowhere

    A tragedy at a main Welsh road near Cardiff has captured headlines but an accident black spot on the same road in north Wales has been almost ignored, it has emerged.

    Several people have been killed at the junction of the A470 and A494 near Dolgellau.

    Five crashes have happened near the spot in as many weeks.

    However, the crashes come in the wake of significant investment in the A470 by the Welsh government in the past year.

    Now commentators have asked whether that money was  spent effectively.


    So many accidents have occurred, at the A470 turn off for Bala, the Welsh government have installed a temporary three-way traffic signal system and imposed a 50mph speed limit.

    Yet millions of pounds have been spent upgrading the A470 and nearby roads to the south, in a scheme called the A470 Maes yr Helmau to Cross Foxes Improvement.

    Earlier in 2014 the Dolgellau bypass, which follows on from this road scheme, was also resurfaced, and the junction road markings changed.

    But there had been calls for a more radical overhaul of the black-spot junction.


    In the latest accident at the scene last week, a teenage girl was taken to hospital.

    Yet it came as huge attention was given to an accident when a 36 year old woman died on the A470 outside Caerphilly near Cardiff, and the road had to be closed for four hours.

    Meanwhile hundreds of people have now signed an online petition calling on the Welsh government to build a roundabout on the A470 at the junction with the A494 in north Wales, and try to halt the accident record there.

    John Raghoobar, a town councillor for Dolgellau, said: "I think the traffic lights are better than nothing but let’s just hope something is done quickly."


    A tragic motorcycle accident at the junction has highlighted the situation.

    But £11.3 million was spent improving the road a few miles further south, between Maes-yr-Helmau and the Cross Foxes on the A470.

    At the start of work, Welsh government minister Carl Sergeant said:  ”Transport is vital to our lives and getting our approach to transport right is critical for sustained economic growth in Wales.”

    In another upgrade further north, a bridge was constructed for bats at a cost of more than £650,000 on the bypass of Porthmadog.

    The ‘bat bridge’ was designed to save the rare lesser horseshoe bat from being killed by vehicles.

    While innovative, it was considered an experimental measure that had only been trialled a few times before.

    The bridge consists of a row of lights either side of the road, mounted at low level which illuminate the carriageway, but ensuring the sky above is dark.

    Early in the project, some drivers said the unusual lights were dazzling.

    The Welsh government have stressed they had to follow European legislation to protect the local wildlife, but the amount of money spent on the bat bridge faced huge criticism.

    Local resident Aled Griffith said:  "If you think about the amount of money that’s being spent on one bridge just to protect bats, I’m not against bats, but what about the children and old people and the people who want to walk along that road who used to walk there before the bypass was opened."

    Yet the multi-million A470 upgrade has been honoured in awards ceremonies.

    It was shortlisted for 'Awards in Sustainability' by The Institute of Civil Engineering and Construction Excellence Wales.


    But as the accident toll continues to mount elsewhere on the A470, the road seems unlikely to win any awards for safety.

  6. Picture perfect

    Today we introduce a new feature to Wales Eye - the cartoonist Mumph.

    For 12 years Mumph worked at the Western Mail and has also provided cartoons for the BBC, ITV, as well as UK newspapers including The Times, The Independent, The Mirror and Punch.

    We were so overwhelmed by the response to yesterday’s article revealing that Welsh government minister Edwina Hart had refused live broadcast interviews for more than three years (see ), we thought we would kick off coverage by Mumph with his own take on the story.


    Last week a huge row broke out over Twitter after the first minister, Carwyn Jones, denounced Arriva Trains Wales because rail announcements were not bi-lingual.

    Sarcastically Mr Jones suggested the border might have moved (see ).

    Mumph offers his own view of the controversy.


    Mumph will entertain readers of Wales Eye with his own particular comment on the key events of the week.

  7. Silent order

    A leading Welsh government minister has refused to accept live broadcast interviews where she may face unknown questions, for more than three years, Wales Eye can reveal.

    Even an interview she gave to BBC Wales a day after a contentious announcement on the £1 billion M4 relief road, was a ‘pre-rec’, or interview transmitted on the evening news but carefully recorded beforehand.

    Now there are fears Edwina Hart could be ‘door-stepped’ by news crews, where a camera team arrives unannounced and she is forced to answer more detailed questions about her policies.

    The controversy came to a head when Ms Hart would not answer broadcast questions about the disputed decision to build the road, on the day of the announcement.

    She made the statement late in the afternoon last Wednesday.


    The timing of this major announcement has been questioned, as well as the decision itself.

    Ms Hart is now facing a serious rebellion among the Welsh government’s own assembly members, and four have now publicly stated they disagree with the news.

    The minister’s general public profile was hugely diminished after an internal investigation of the BBC contributors’ data base, revealed that the economy minister has not made herself available for a live interview since May 2011. 

    "It is ridiculous that Edwina Hart almost never does interviews," one BBC journalist told Wales Eye.

    "We wanted to ask her questions live on air, about spending huge amounts of taxpayers money and criticism from within her own party, but she wouldn’t.

    "It’s unbelievably difficult to get hold of her.”

    Another broadcast journalist said:  "There is a big issue of accountability here.

    "I wouldn’t be surprised if news teams decide to ‘door step’ her."


    The Brynglas tunnels, a bottle-neck for the M4 now, would be avoided by the new relief road.

    But after Ms Hart made the controversial announcement opting for the expensive ‘black route’, she has faced a storm of criticism and calls for more media interviews.

    The transport expert who researched the cheaper ‘blue route’ around Newport, Professor Stuart Cole, said:  "The economic assessment does not appear to give evidence that the black route will create investment and jobs.

    "The decision has been made but previous decisions have been reversed both to build and to cancel this particular investment.

    "It is now time to build but given the financial and traffic forecast implications has the right decision been made?"


    Ms Hart has held a succession of senior Welsh government posts ever since devolution fifteen years ago but has rarely granted interviews in any of them.

    She was for three years from 2000, minister for finance and local government, and was appointed minister for business enterprise following the assembly election in 2011.

    Since March last year she has been minister for the economy and transport.

    In that time Ms Hart has been responsible for multi million pound budgets.

    Serious questions have been raised about her handling of the media as criticism grows over the timing of the new road announcement.

    It came a few days before release of a highly-critical report by the assembly’s cross-party environment committee, which is due to be published tomorrow.

    In leaked drafts it was revealed the committee had "grave concerns".

    Three possible routes for the new M4 were considered, but the fourth cheaper and quicker one - the ‘blue route’ - was also offered.

    This would have involved upgrading the Southern Distributor Road and would have been far less expensive.

    But in her pre-rec interview, Ms Hart robustly defended her actions, saying government had to ensure it "gets on with governing" and it was up to ministers to "make the decision".

    Yet opposition parties are unimpressed, and now Plaid Cymru have withdrawn from talks with Welsh ministers over the budget in protest.

    Labour only have 30 of the 60 seats in the assembly and need the support of opposition parties to pass their budget.

    In November 2012 Plaid Cymru backed Labour so the budget could be passed, but faced heavy criticism after details of the negotiations emerged.


    The then finance spokesperson and former Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones was appointed head of a science park on Anglesey which was created as part of the deal (see  ).

    Labour must now turn to the Liberal Democrats for help in passing their annual budget.

    But reports within the party confirm they too may soon announce abandoning any negotiations with Labour on the budget.

    Furthermore Lib Dem economy spokesperson Eluned Parrot has been strident in her condemenation of the decision to choose the black route for the relief road.

    Her comments leave the party little room for manoeeuvre.

    She said:  This decision is a huge mistake, and completely flies in the face of the environmental and economic issues that have been raised by the Welsh Liberal Democrats and many other organisations throughout this process.

    "The consultation process appears to have been nothing more than a sham.

    "The Minister’s claim that there were no reasons why the ‘black route’ could not be adopted completely ignores evidence".

    After the announcement to adopt the black route, four assembly members from the Welsh government’s own party - Labour’s Mick Antoniw, Julie Morgan, Julie James and Jenny Rathbone - criticised the decision to choose it on environmental grounds and because of the timing.


    In the past leading UK government ministers were used to fielding questions from the media.

    But, it appears, not so in Wales.

    Five years ago Ms Hart stood in Labour’s Welsh leadership election.

    As she launched her manifesto she said:  "When my mother was born, women in Wales had never had the vote.

    "Now, less than a century later, I am a candidate to be the first woman to lead our party in Wales."

    Perhaps Ms Hart should be told in the 21st century dealing with the media is a vital part of the job.

  8. 00:30 21st Jul 2014

    Notes: 1

    Tags: comment

    Heated debates

    By Daran Hill of Positif Politics

    Certain summer traditions are as regular as they are surprising.

    The shock political moment is one of them.

    A decade ago, former first minister, Rhodri Morgan, used the final day of the summer session to announce the abolition of the Welsh Development Agency, skills body ELWA, and the Wales Tourist Board.

    A year later he set out his lengthy timetable for withdrawal from public life and, unlike Tony Blair, managed to stick to his.

    Rhodri Glyn Thomas’s cigar moment also happened as the assembly doors were closing.


    This year the arrival of a Secretary of State for Wales with a beard, the sacking of Welsh environment minister Alun Davies, and the reinstatement of four conservatives to their own front bench in the assembly, have all provided a colourful backdrop to the hectic last few days.

    But the biggest shock of the week was the decision by the Welsh government minister, Edwina Hart, to commission the one billion pound M4 relief road.

    She can have expected strong headlines in doing so, because the statement was both surprising in tone and scale.

    What will not have been so pleasing is the way those headlines have been framed.

    Because by sneaking out the announcement at four O’clock on Wednesday afternoon she made a tactical error.


    The news of the M4 relief road to the south of Newport came only weeks after the first minister Carwyn Jones, had condemned a Plaid Cymru debate on the floor of the assembly for occurring before a committee report was published into the M4.

    It was, he said, premature to do so.

    Yet that same prematurity coloured Ms Hart’s announcement on Wednesday, knowing that the committee report was due the following week.

    (see Wales Eye tomorrow for details of how the Welsh government minister handles the media).

    A stand-off is now in place with Labour members of the sustainability committee as unhappy as the other parties over the disrespect to their work which – surprise, surprise – has now been leaked and shown to be negative about the M4 relief road option chosen by the minister.


    Plaid Cymru have, furthermore, pulled out of budget-round talks with Labour, over the way this public money has been announced and spent; and the Liberal Democrats are said to be inches away from doing the same.

    The irony, of course, is that in the space of a year the great consensus over prioritising and approving the M4 relief road has now been broken.

    The other usual thing for summer in Welsh politics as that the rows and issues that end the session in July, rarely resurface with the same passion when the institution reconvenes in September.

    Because of the budget-round, and the committee report, the tradition of ‘forgive and forget’ will not be maintained this year.

    Daran Hill is director of Positif Politics http://www.positifgroup.co.uk

  9. On the buses

    The controversial bus service from Cardiff to the airport is to be run by a different company, Wales Eye can reveal.

    First Cymru have lost a re-tendering process and soon the service will be run by New Adventure Travel (NAT).

    The bus route - which receives a subsidy of hundreds of thousands of pounds - was launched last summer by Edwina Hart, the Welsh business minister.

    Wales Eye first disclosed in December how First Cymru paid some drivers less than the living wage the Welsh government themselves endorse (see - ).


    Now the company have told workers they will no longer run the T9 airport service.

    Last month it emerged that First Cymru had ‘de-registered’ the service as the contract reached the end of an agreed term.

    A company spokesperson said it was "normal procedure".

    At the launch of the T9 service Ms Hart had said:  “The Welsh Government’s vision for the development of Cardiff Airport includes making it easier for passengers to travel to and from the airport using public transport.”

    But the service was condemned as a ‘ghost bus’ by critics after it was revealed that so few people used it, the taxpayers’ subsidy was significant.

    Welsh Conservative leader and regional assembly member for south Wales central, Andrew RT Davies, said the T9 service had been “running empty for months”.

    “Communities deserve better”, he said.

    The service - which runs from Cardiff bus station to the airport - had been criticised by opposition figures for its low passenger numbers, with a report saying it had carried on average 2,778 passengers a week since its launch.

    It had an estimated annual cost of just under half a million pounds (£470,000).


    But the bus service was an important part of the plan by the Welsh government to boost customers at the airport after it had been brought into public ownership for £52 million.

    Huge embarrassment was caused to policy-makers after Wales Eye revealed that some drivers were paid less than the living wage the Welsh government supported.

    First Cymru officially complained about the report saying that drivers received many staff perks including free uniforms.

    Some drivers on the shuttle service between Cardiff and the nearby airport were last year paid just £7.50 an hour. 

    Yet the Welsh government formally recognised the Living Wage which was set 15p an hour higher.


    First Cymru said:  We are concerned to read reports in some Welsh media alleging that First Cymru staff are poorly paid.

    "These assertions are incorrect and misleading."

    Among the benefits staff received from First Cymru were the following:  

    Free uniforms 

    · Free and ongoing training and continuous professional development 

    · Programmes to support individual’s progress their career through the business”

    But now it seems an individual’s progress through the business will have to be pursued outside the company’s airport service.


  10. Tough business

    Angry lecturers at a Welsh university have attacked the "aggressive" approach to staff of senior officials at the institution’s management school, it has emerged.

    Workers at the school in Swansea stand accused of having a "hippy dippy" attitude.

    But the dean, Nigel Piercy, said major changes would continue, and staff should not hold their breaths expecting officials to step down.

    He added that, in fact on reflection, he would be happy to see them hold their breaths.


    But at Swansea university one staff member told Wales Eye:  "It is an appalling way to treat people who are working extremely hard.

    "Everyone supports change and knows it has to come but there is no consultation whatsoever."

    The controversy follows Nigel Piercy’s appointment to the school soon after his son became a top management official.

    Nigel was named dean of the school in May 2013.


    His son Niall is pictured here second from right, outside Cardiff metropolitan university management school where he was professor of marketing and operations management.

    Professor Niall Piercy was appointed deputy dean for operations in the Swansea management school early last year.

    Friction there arose soon afterwards, when he warned that any academic without four papers deemed three-star standard for research excellence, would be moved into teaching-only roles.

    The policy was rescinded, but controversy continued over increased teaching loads for some staff.

    Further bad feeling was created in March when Professor Piercy circulated a spreadsheet of student satisfaction scores for the first term of 2013-14.

    Course modules with a low score, it was announced, would be placed in “special measures”.


    A new building is under construction for the school and is due to be completed in September of next year.

    But the anger of academics is growing, and not directed at the facilities, but at the management style.

    Even though the names of some course directors at the school were omitted in the controversial survey of student satisfaction, twenty two academics submitted a formal grievance, arguing that identities were common knowledge and that the spreadsheet undermined their “professional credibility”.

    But another contested survey followed and, Professor Piercy’s father Nigel said some staff had given "hippy dippy comments".

    He added, that they had enjoyed a   "lovely cosy lifestyle doing whatever they wanted for years".

    He said:  "I’m sorry.

    "This is not a commune.

    "This is a managed institution pursuing goals that are closely aligned with the university’s.

    "It is not a rest home for refugees from the 1960s, with their ponytails and tie-dyed T-shirts.

    "Live with it.

    "Some wags call for the removal of some or all of the school’s top management team.

    "Yes, well don’t hold your breath.

    "Or actually, do."


    A spokesperson for Swansea university said:  "The university is committed to improving the teaching and learning of students at the School of Management as part of our ambition to become one of the world’s top 200 universities.

    "All changes within the school seek to underpin this, and we hope that staff will support us."

    But Swansea University’s management school is no stranger to controversy.

    Ten years ago an investigation was undertaken by the leading barrister, Philip Havers, into the closure of five academic departments at the university.

    Critics believed the closures were linked to the opening of what was then the new management school.

    Almost 300 members of the university signed a petition against the closures demanding answers about whether there was a connection with the opening of the school.

    The academics were also concerned about a much-publicised recruitment drive for foreign students.

    Serious questions were raised too about the relationship between the vice-chancellor, Richard Davies, and the man appointed then as head of the management school, Patrick O’Farrell.


    At the vice-chancellor’s wedding Professor O’Farrell was best man, and they worked together in what was described as a "tightly-knit research group" at the former University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST) which was based in Cardiff, writing research papers together.

    This was not declared at the time of his appointment.

    The university says the relationship had not been close since 1985 and that at the time of the appointment there was no "financial, close familial, a sexual/romantic or close association of any other kind".

    These issues would have prevented Professor Davies from chairing the committee which selected Professor O’Farrell for the post at Swansea’s management school.

    Meanwhile the Piercys remain a controversial pair.

    Oddly Professor Niall Piercy does not mention on his Linkedin profile, the year he spent at Cardiff metropolitan university before he moved to Swansea.

    He does, however, state how he spent a month as a visiting professor at the culverhouse college of commerce and business administration with Alabama university in America.

    But as Niall’s father might say:  "get over it".