The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has demanded Conwy Borough County Council conduct a full investigation into its decision to aggressively pursue a case against a Great Orme farmer, after the case against him collapsed during a court hearing in Llandudno.
FUW member Dan Jones, who became a tenant of the National Trust’s Parc Farm on the Great Orme in 2016, had originally faced twenty charges. But when the Council decided to drop charges and abandon the case on Friday (7 June) district judge Gwyn Jones told Mr Jones: "Your good name remains."
However, to pay for his legal defence Mr Jones, who is married with a young son, has had to borrow £50,000 from his family, as well as selling 300 sheep and farm machinery - and despite the case having collapsed, there is little prospect of any costs awarded by the court coming close to covering the Jones’ expenses.
In a letter to Conwy Council Chief Executive, Iwan Davies, the FUW accuses the Council of having adopted an “...aggressive approach which seemed to stand in stark contrast to those adopted by most Local Authorities”, stating that: “As matters progressed, it became clear to those who have dealt with other such cases across Wales that the Council had taken a decision to aggressively pursue Mr Jones in what has rightly been compared to a ‘witch hunt’.”
The letter goes on to highlight that the financial and mental impact for the family has been tremendous and will have long-lasting effects on Mr Jones, his wife, son and their wider family, and that the approach adopted by the Council has also brought it into significant disrepute locally, and across the UK, with the case being reported in national newspapers.
The letter concludes that: “Given such an array of damaging impacts, both on a personal level for the Jones family and a reputational level for the Council, we believe a full investigation into the decision to pursue this case and the methods adopted by Council officials is warranted, and that this should be instigated as soon as possible.”