Former director blasts YesCymru over election debacle
A former YesCymru director who has been blocked from standing again has accused the pro independence organisation of “corrupt practices, bullying and secrecy”.
Dr Cinzia Yates was removed from YesCymru’s National Governing Body (NGB) in November alongside another director when they expressed concern over plans to dismiss the former CEO, Gwern Gwynfil.
The board accused the two directors of behaving in an “obstructive, aggressive, deliberate, and planned” manner.
Mr Gwynfil was eventually sacked in December via email.
Dr Yates joined the board in August last year to oversee admin and organise YesCymru’s conference – but says she was shocked by the level of “ineptitude and corruption” of the NGB.
Last month we reported on leaked documents and video footage which revealed the scale of the chaos going on behind the scenes at the organisation.
YesCymru is currently running elections for its next NGB with results expected to be announced on Saturday (February 10).
Despite being removed as a director, Dr Yates had planned to stand for election again.
However, she received an email from YesCymru Chair, Barry Parkin, stating she had been disqualified from standing because one of her five nominees had nominated another candidate.
Dr Yates told Nation.Cymru the decision to block her from standing was a “last straw to clutch” to keep her quiet.
She has argued that as it’s possible for a candidate to nominate themselves, she still had enough nominations to stand.
The other candidate who also received a nomination from the same member as Dr Yates has not been disqualified from standing.
During the previous YesCymru election there was an instance in which two candidates mistakenly received a nomination from one member.
Both candidates were given the opportunity to secure alternative nominations before the deadline.
Dr Yates says she should have been given the same opportunity.
YesCymru members have expressed frustration over the forthcoming election because of a lack of information regarding individual candidates and the number of uncontested candidates.
Dr Yates said: “The last six months has seen YesCymru captured by a very small coterie who seem willing to go to extreme lengths to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
“Although it is hard to make out whatever vision they may have for the organisation and concerning that they don’t have a single event in the calendar for 2024 and it’s already February.
“I have experienced a constant uphill battle to develop YesCymru into a forward thinking, inclusive, transparent and respected organisation.
“I did not expect to become embroiled in such shocking levels of ineptitude and corruption.”
Dr Yates says that during her time as a director she was “shouted at” and “muted” during NGB meetings when she raised concerns about breaching company law.
She said: “Whether rigging votes on motions, spending money without authorisation, bullying candidates out of standing, attempting to bully the CEO, altering minutes to hide these activities (if publishing them at all), or secretly signing a resolution to remove me as a company director despite this breaching company law and then spending further money to provide manipulated legal advice to quash the investigation that proved this.
“All has been carried out by a small but aggressive group of people led by the mysterious former English army officer, Barry Parkin. This has often been highly aggressive – being shouted at, muted, spoken over, and typical sexist tropes were par for the course when I tried to make myself heard – pointing out that something is against the law is apparently ‘unbecoming’.”
Dr Yates says that following her removal from the board she was subjected to online trolling and harassment by a sock account on X, formerly Twitter, which she believes is connected to the NGB.
Nation.Cymru journalists have similarly been the target of online harassment from the same anonymous social media account for covering YesCymru controversies.
Dr Yates said: “My plan was to carry on as normal, stand in the NGB elections and let members decide if they wanted me to represent them and bring my extensive and varied experience to the table.
“I did this in the face of emails sent to the membership telling substantial mistruths about me, whilst being accused within official YesCymru channels of everything from trying to further my career to being a state operator, and being quite horridly abused by a sock puppet account on social media.
“An account that must be connected to one of the remaining NGB as they have access to information only the NGB would know.”
Dr Yates says she will now break all links to the organisation and will cancel her YesCymru membership.
She said: “I would like to apologise to my nominators and to the groups who were hoping to see me represent them on the NGB. I did everything I could, but unless the membership as a whole are willing to stand up and hold Barry and the rump NGB to account then YesCymru will continue as it is now.
“Based on the way they have handled sending out information on these elections, an impressive breaking of just about every clause in the Bylaw on elections, and a return to angry, shouty comms, often verging on the xenophobic and concentrating on what is wrong with Westminster rather than what would be right with an independent Wales, the future doesn’t look too bright.
“I will therefore be cancelling my membership as I cannot in all good conscience continue to support an organisation that relies on corrupt practices, bullying and secrecy. I shall continue instead to do what I can to work toward an independent Wales in which those things are not tolerated.”
We sent Dr Yates’ statement in full to YesCymru Chair Barry Parkin but we were told he was not available to provide a comment.
Instead we received a response from YesCymru director Elfed Williams who provided a character reference for Mr Parkin but did not address any of the accusations made against the board.
We gave Mr Williams – who is also YesCymru’s former Chair and a current Plaid Cymru councillor – the opportunity to address the points again.
He told us the NGB is working with members and groups to set up an independent investigation to look at concerns raised by Cinzia “amongst other things”.
Mr Williams added that YesCymru will be unable to provide any comments to the press on any policies and procedures as this might prejudice the investigation.
Shortly after we requested a statement, an email was sent to YesCymru members stating that Barry Parkin was only the “temporary” Chair of the organisation.
The email added that former Chair, Elfed Williams, has now been re-elected as Chair.
Despite covering several YesCymru stories – we have never been told that Barry Parkin’s position as Chair was a temporary one.
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