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Editor found guilty but will appeal

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Thomas Sinclair: Editor of The Ceredigion Herald

THE EDITOR of the Ceredigion Herald was today (May 12) found guilty of breaching the Sexual Offences Amendment Act (1992) after a judge ruled that a story published last year ‘includes matters likely to lead members of the public to identify [the complainant] as the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed’.

Thomas Hutton Sinclair, 37, had pleaded not guilty to the offence, which was tried at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court last month.

A skeleton argument was put forward by his legal representative, Matthew Paul, which attempted to demonstrate that the information put forward in the article was not sufficient to lead to members of the public identifying the complainant.

However, after reserving judgement, District Judge David Parsons found that the relevant information provided in the article was sufficient to provide a ‘real risk’ of identification.

“The purpose of S1 (2) of the Act is to preserve the dignity and privacy of victims of sexual offences,” he said. “Without this provision victims may well not report crimes for fear of publication of their identity. In my judgement likely in this case includes probable or might well happen. However on the facts of this case I am satisfied that there was a real risk, a real danger, a real chance that members of the public would identify the victim.”

The judgement stated that the CPS did not contend that any identification of the complainant had taken place as a result of the article’s publication.

Speaking in mitigation, Mr Paul noted that in a similar case in 2013, Trinity Mirror had been fined £1,200. He added that The Herald was an independent paper, from which Sinclair did not draw a salary.

“It is regretted by Thomas Sinclair that it ‘slipped through the net’ but there was no considered decision to print,” he added.

Mr Paul noted that this offence pre-dated another matter which came before court last year, and that staff had received training before this matter came to court.

He also added that the ‘gleeful’ reporting of the Ceredigion Herald’s circulation figures as of last June by rival titles had adversely affected advertising revenue, pointing out that the current weekly sales were in the region of 3,300.

Sinclair was fined £1,500, and ordered to pay compensation of £1,500, costs of £500 and a surcharge of £150.

Speaking after the verdict, he said: “District Judge Parsons’ decision was badly wrong. The District Judge reached factual conclusions that were not reasonably available to him, and made errors of law.

“I maintain that there was no likelihood of the information in the report leading members of the public to identify the complainant. I will be appealing against both the conviction and sentence, and fully expect that the District Judge’s decision will be overturned by the higher Courts.”

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Training company enjoy successful open evening

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HYFFORDDIANT CEREDIGION TRAINING (HCT) enjoyed a successful open evening on November 7 as it opened its doors to the public.

Opening HCT’s doors gave people the opportunity to see the fantastic range of training opportunities available for them. This included opportunities for young people who are interested in seeing what apprenticeships HCT has to offer.

Mark Gleeson, Manager for Post 14 Vocational Learning said, “It is important that HCT holds open evenings to showcase different learning opportunities that are available to all learners. HCT offers a large number of apprenticeships which ensures that the next generation of skilled workforce is being trained and employed by local companies. This is very important to the economy of Ceredigion.”

There was an opportunity to have a tour of the building, to speak to tutors, to have a look at the workshops, and to see trainees and apprentices in action. This gave a flavour of the kind of work that is done daily at the training centre.

Traineeships and apprenticeships, but also evening classes, are taught at HCT, as Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet Member for Learning Service and Lifelong Learning explains, “If studying towards a full qualification in a given trade is not what you are after, but you want to gain some of the basic skills in the various routes HCT specialises in, why not join an evening class? The next round of evening courses are beginning now. So, what are you waiting for? Contact HCT to see what it has to offer you.”

Evening classes run for six weeks and HCT offers these 2-3 times per year. HCT offers a range of vocational courses for people of all ages, including Hairdressing, Childcare, Business Administration, Information Technology, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrics, Blacksmithing, Agriculture, Motor Mechanics and Welding.

For more information, find ‘Hyfforddiant Ceredigion Training’ on Facebook, or visit the website, http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/public-it/hct/index.html

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Vandalism at coastguard lookout point

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POLICE are investigating vandalism at the old coastguard lookout point at Bird’s Rock.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re very sad to see vandalism to the old coastguard look out at Bird’s Rock on the coastal path a mile to the west of New Quay last week.

“All five windows was smashed – some even had their wooden frames ripped out.”

Melanie Heath, Ceredigion County Council’s Marine Protected Area Officer, added: “This act of vandalism is so distressing to see. The look-out was restored thanks to a special grant from the Crown Estate. It is used by our Dolphin and Porpoise Watch volunteers throughout the monitoring season. It is also a special place for many local people and visitors alike to sit for a while and take in the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay.”

If anyone has any information, contact Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police on 101

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Police report finds no ‘major shortcomings’ in use of force

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn, has conducted a review of police officers’ use of force, and is assured that there are no major shortcomings.

The full report on the review of the use of force will be shared with local Police and Crime Panel members at their public meeting today (Nov 16).

This scrutiny review signifies a new, enhanced approach to the Commissioner’s continued commitment to holding the Force to account, for the delivery of an efficient and effective police service for the residents of Dyfed-Powys.

Sparked by national requirements to improve transparency around officers’ conduct, recent controversy around the introduction of spit and bite guards, and feedback from the inspectorate, the review involved consultation with the public, officers and staff, independent scrutiny of incident footage and a detailed review of available data.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn said: “I have been encouraged by the Force’s response to my office undertaking this work, and thank all those who contributed honestly and thoroughly to the review. I would also like to thank the members of the public who were willing to share their views with us, through my online survey and in person at the various events my team and I have attended over the summer months.”

Whilst the review found no significant concern to suggest that force is being used inappropriately by officers, it was identified that under-recording and limitations in the current systems require some improvement.

A series of recommendations have been accepted by the Chief Constable, Mark Collins, who has detailed the Force’s planned course of action in a formal response to the Commissioner.

The Commissioner’s office will use this action plan to review the Force’s progress over the coming months.

Superintendent Craig Templeton, Head of Operations, said: “We welcome this scrutiny by the Police and Crime Commissioner and accept there are improvements to be made. Work has already started to address the recommendations, including changes to the Use of Force recording system and introducing Body Worn Video, to make scrutiny easier. We are confident force is used legitimately in Dyfed-Powys Police and will continue working towards achieving accurate recording.”

The Commissioner is committed to continuing this approach and will be looking for the public to get involved in future engagements and consultations, details of which will be available on the Commissioner’s website, or through contact with the office.

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