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Leaked video and documents reveal scale of chaos at YesCymru

20 Jan 2024 5 minute read
Picture by YesCymru

Emily Price

A leaked YesCymru board meeting video and internal documents have revealed the full scale of the chaos taking place behind the scenes at the pro-independence organisation.

An ongoing investigation by Nation.Cymru exposed cracks in YesCymru’s National Governing Board (NGB) following the sacking of CEO Gwern Gwynfil and two directors.

We have spoken to sources on both sides of the internal conflict and a recorded NGB meeting was made available to us along with emails and documents.

The recording shows a video conferencing meeting in December when the Board’s complaints officer raised concerns about unauthorised spending by NGB Chair, Barry Parkin.

During the meeting, evidence of a £1,600 bill racked up by the Chair for legal costs is discussed by directors.

Unauthorised

The complaints officer said Mr Parkin had incurred the costs when he sought legal advice from the organisation’s retained solicitors, Geldards without the request first being authorised by the board.

Details given in the evidence suggest that the nature of the legal advice related to the termination of the CEO, written resolutions, the status quo of YesCymru and the minuting of meetings.

At the start of the conference call, directors briefly discuss that NGB meetings were not being accurately recorded and some directors called for this to be rectified in the interest of transparency.

A disagreement broke out between directors when the complaints officer suggested that Mr Parkin – who was not present – should be removed as Chair until an independent investigation took place to look at the unauthorised spending.

One director raised concerns about what could happen if details of how YesCymru spends membership money was to be made public to members.

However, the majority of the board agreed to allow Mr Parkin to continue as Chair whilst an investigation was carried out despite concerns that the board could be legally liable should another unauthorised spend take place.

Concerns

At the end of the conference call, the NGB suggested appointing a former police officer to investigate the incurred costs. However, it appears that no such investigation took place.

We have also obtained a report by a disciplinary panel which investigated complaints that two co-opted directors had been unlawfully removed by seven directors – one of which has since stepped down.

YesCymru’s NGB should be made up of 17 directors, however, there are currently only eight – elections are due to take place next month.

The disciplinary panel – made up of YesCymru members who were not connected with the matter – concluded that “the purported dismissal of the two co-opted directors was unlawfully done and as a result is null and void.”

The panel went on to say: “The two co-opted directors remain as directors and YesCymru should immediately move to restore their status as such with Companies House. We request that the NGB correct the record of the unlawful termination at Companies House, without delay.”

“Corrupt”

However, Nation.Cymru understands that the six directors who were investigated and make up the majority of the NGB dissolved the panel and did not follow through with any its recommendations.

One YesCymru source described the organisation’s current board as “out of control and corrupt”.

The six directors who were investigated say they sought legal support after the panel had been set up and were advised that “multiple discrepancies” had occurred contrary to YesCymru’s own policies and procedures.

They told us they have now set up their own independent investigation looking at their decisions over the last six months.

We have also received leaked documents that appear to show attempts to block former directors from standing again by changing the organisation’s bylaws just two weeks before elections take place.

The prior bylaw relevant to elections states that candidates need to have been members for at least three months.

Bylaws

However, an email trail shows several directors agreeing to add lines to the bylaw to include that members looking to stand as directors must not have been asked to resign in the previous two years and must not have been previously removed as a co-opted director.

Nation.Cymru invited the six directors concerned to comment and a statement was released on behalf of Aled Jones, Barry Parkin, Elfed Williams, Gaynor Jones, Naomi Hughes and Phyl Griffiths.

They said:  “It is disappointing once again that a nameless person, but someone closely linked to the board, has decided to release information to the press without revealing the full picture.

“A couple of weeks ago a Director, without consulting his fellow Directors, set up a panel to ‘investigate’ a complaint. Following legal advice from YesCymru’s retained solicitors it was clear that multiple discrepancies occurred when the Director carried out his actions contrary to YesCymru’s own policies and procedures and  without the Director declaring his own bias and conflict of interest.

“The complainants will be informed that an independent investigator will now look at their complaint following correct procedure according to our policies and procedures.

“The endless attacks on YesCymru’s National Governing Body and the constant leaking of information without providing the full picture are detrimental to the organisation’s reputation and its activities.

“The NGB has therefore agreed to set up an independent investigation into the decisions of the board over the last six months and the role of Directors, including the behaviour of some members who may have potentially attempted to influence decisions that could be regarded as detrimental to the organisation.

“Regional Councils will be consulted on the guidelines of the investigation if a Council of Deputies cannot be formed.  Once the report has been published it will be shared with the Council of Deputies or, in the absence of a Council of Deputies, Regional Councils will be consulted on the next steps necessary in order to rebuild YesCymru.

“YesCymru will make no further comments on this or any future ‘leak’ to the press about internal procedures until the independent investigation is concluded.”


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Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

ARTD and gang must be over the moon once again by the chaos at YC. My fee did not i hope go towards the chairs legal expenses ?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard E

Probably funded part of his wine cellar !

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

😂

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
1 month ago

Yes Cymru must get their act together at once. It must get be able to get on with the job that it was founded to do : – TO BRING OUR COUNTRY INTO A FREE AND INDEPENDENT NATION. Yes Cymru MUST be campaigning and advancing the issues in favour of our country’s independence instead of infighting within its membership, I did make a new years resolution to join Yes Cymru, but will never join while this infighting is still present – It is a waste of time and resources that would be better spent. GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER YES CYMRU.… Read more »

Mike
Mike
1 month ago

Hmm. If I wanted to neutralise a pressure group then I would drop in an agent provocateur or two and aim to create chaos in the boardroom. It demolishes faith at every level and in every part of the organisation.

Glyndwr
Glyndwr
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike

Or 6 or 7

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike

This is Wales, and there is no need to send in agents provocateurs as most Welsh organisations are well capable of self-destruction given long enough. We may have been a nation for a couple of thousand years, but rarely and only for very short periods have we ever been united in all that time. Internecine warfare is our Achillies Heel. A united Wales would probably be pretty invincible, but truly uniting the country has always proved to be problematic. However, I don’t think the structure of YesCymru being a limited company is a good fit as it gives far too… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

The trouble was/is Padi, that the movement tried to complicate YesCymru. I banged on about this for a long time. I kept saying that it should be an non-partisan umbrella campaign group that gave voice to independence advocates of all political hues. A banner under which we could all march for a democratic Welsh State. I got shot down repeatedly for this view. Whilst I would favour the sort of structure you suggest, not all would, or even be familiar with. Even then, the interminable arguments about structure when all we needed to do was just get on with campaigning!… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

 “…..nothing short of a socialist state was good enough”. I don’t think they were “socialist” for one moment although that’s how they labelled themselves. Behaviours were more akin to anarchistic free-for-all types more commonly found among the oddballs in on the formative stages of a fascist bully boy organisation.

In my opinion YC never recovered from that hijacking episode and this latest rupture may well help it towards its demise as a credible movement.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Clearly you know little about anarchism if you think that shower of primadonnas were anarchist. Anarchism isn’t about a free-for-all at all, and, believe it or not, anarchists are strong believers in structure and order. Indeed, as all of them seemed to want to be leader, they were hardly anarchists, more like wannabe tyrants.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

I totally agree with you, and to be quite honest find it quite hard to get my head around why the structure of the movement wasn’t decided upon at a very early stage thus avoiding the pitfalls that the movement has now faced on three occasions. One of the reasons I suggested the model used by the IWW is that it is a strictly non-partisan organisation whose only role is to represent workers, regardless of political or religious affiliation. Indeed, discussion of partisan politics and religion is prohibited, precisely because they do divide workers. There is the ultimate aim of… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
30 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Padi, we’re no more than a rizla paper apart from one another. You’re right that the governance should have been sorted out early on – something Gwynoro Jones raised years ago at the Burry Port AGM. It never really did and we know what happened next. People often knock Plaid. A case of it cannot be all things to all people. Under Adam Price it published its own independence commission findings and explicitly made our Statehood its official policy. Our policy is to establish a democratic state for Wales and pursue a new constitutional relationship between the nations of Britain… Read more »

Stevie
Stevie
1 month ago

Whoever is leaking this information should lower their heads in shame. Going behind the back of their fellow directors when they’ve signed a confidentiality agreement is wrong. What happens in those meetings should stay in the meeting. This behaviour is not helping YesCymru it is only someone’s self interest that is benefiting. To the YesCymru director that is continually leaking information if you don’t like what is going on please resign!

FrankC
FrankC
1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie

The behaviour of these directors is appalling. They seem to have no regard for the membership or rules of the organisation. I’m glad I cancelled my membership last year. With clowns like this in charge YesCymru is finished

A R
A R
1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie

What happens in those meetings should be available to all members!! They clearly don’t want any transparency or accountability

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  A R

There are minuets regularly published on the web site.

DaiCwm
DaiCwm
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

The ‘minutes’ published on the website are the worst minutes I have ever seen in many years of experience in running similar organisations and charities. It is impossible to form a coherent picture of the business transacted at the NGB by reading them, as a quick inspection will show you. I complained about them once but I was gaslighted!

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Minutes only reflect the accuracy and industriousness of the person taking them. If there is someone who takes comprehensive minutes then it can be an accurate account of the transactions. Unfortunately sometimes the minutes of meetings taken can be somewhat less than a comprehensive account of the meeting that took place, and some consider meeting minutes to merely be an aide memoire for those who attended rather than an accurate account of all proceedings.

Far better that meetings are videoed or at least the audio is recorded as then it’s clear what was discussed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Padi Phillips
hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Given the range of technology available that solution you describe should have been in place from the outset.

No doubt the security service may already have copies of audio and possibly video. Does one make a written request or just phone their local creep?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Might be interesting to make an enquiry… Subject Access Request, anyone?

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

If people look closely they will find that the small group of insurgents who brought down the central committee are the ones now looking to bring down the NGB. Sadly they are not MI5 or Tory infiltrators they are 100% committed to independence but wow betide anyone who doesn’t agree with them. So sad that a few self centred egotists can do so much damage.

A R
A R
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Nice try. That might have worked so far but members are now seeing the board are bent and power-hungry. Time they cast their egos aside and stood down for fresh elections

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  A R

This is deja vu in so many ways. Not least because the YesCymru member who started the schism with the old Central Committee and fed the crow a few years back, nearly ending YesCymru, is now feeding this. He should hang his head in shame

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

The old central committee were ideologues who bullied anyone who didn’t toe their line. They behaved disgracefully. They briefed against and mistreated two of their own entirely unjustly. They had to go.

HarrisR
HarrisR
1 month ago

Yes Cymru should immediately organise a mass march – to save Yes Cymru.

Or more realistically, organise two marches in opposite directions around Roath Park.

Independence can wait

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

Sideshow and a distraction that detracts from what it was set up to do. The purpose of YesCymru was to bring independence supporters together. It has failed. All it has done is given a platform to idealogues and the power hungry. Don’t get me wrong, I am enormously disappointed. However, there’s no point being sentimental about it. It has failed. Move on. Just shut it down and exhort the members to join one of the three political parties in favour of independence.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago

Pysgod bach mewn llynnoedd bach yn meddwl mai siarcod ydynt.

cablestreet
cablestreet
1 month ago

Doesn’t bode well for an independent Cymru.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  cablestreet

That’s what the malevolent forces behind this latest bout of chaos to afflict the organisation want you (and others) to think.

Last edited 1 month ago by Leigh Richards
SundanceKid
SundanceKid
1 month ago

STOP leaking these stories to the media. If there is a dispute, resolve it within your organisation, like adults.

While I’m sure that many people are unhappy with the dismissal of the CEO, there comes a point when you need to move on and co-operate with your colleagues for the greater good and for the benefit of your shareholders (members).

It appears that some within the organisation are focused on causing yet more chaos instead.

Last edited 1 month ago by SundanceKid
Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

It’s just a few months since I – and thousands of others – were fortunate enough to be part of the biggest pro Welsh independence event Swansea has ever seen. The Yes Cymru organised march and rally was a huge success, and after a difficult couple of years the organisation seemed to be getting back on its feet and and to have rediscovered it’s raison d’etre ie. promoting support for an independent Wales. Obviously its recovery rattled those shadowy forces ill disposed to an independent Wales, and it became necessary to plunge the organisation into a period of chaos and… Read more »

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Obstacles don’t need to be places old boy they go out of their way to find them. Fortunately Plaid has no such problems. Squeaky clean.

Emma Catherwood
Emma Catherwood
1 month ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

Unfortunately, no matter how much free stuff Plaid Cymru promises at election times, 90% of the electorate still refuses to vote for them.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago

What you are saying Emma is true whether or not people like it.However between Newport and Llanelli and South of the County of Powys do people give any serious thought into voting Labour! Maybe the vote for Labour is for hereditary reasons.

Annibendod
Annibendod
30 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

Leanne Wood is on record saying that the Labour vote in South Wales is a soft vote. I think it’s a vote between a rock and a hard place. People feel little affinity for a Tory party that is alien to their culture and values. People fear independence will plunge us into poverty. Moreover, there is a ludicrous urban myth surrounding “Welsh speakers taking over”. So they feel like they have little option. But for the pro-indy Welsh progressive, what other credible game is there in town? Instead of attacking Plaid, those people should roll up their sleeves and get… Read more »

Another Richard
Another Richard
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

“Shadowy forces”?! Are you seriously suggesting there’s a conspiracy at work here?

Maglocunos
Maglocunos
1 month ago

Mae’n werth cofio cyfrifoldebau cyfarwyddwyr y bwrdd i YC. Yn erbyn y safonau hyn byddant yn cael eu barnu: It’s worth remembering the responsibilities of YC’s directors. Against these standards they will be judged: Directors have far-reaching legal responsibilities and owe legal duties  to the company they serve. They have wide ranging duties of loyalty and good faith to their company, and are also under duties of care, diligence and skill to promote the success of the company. Failing to observe their responsibilities and perform their duties could lead to disqualification as a director, fines, criminal prosecution, or being made personally… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
30 days ago
Reply to  Maglocunos

Absolutly 100% and the one or two directors/ex directors who are leaking these stories need to be brought to account publicly and legally.

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