Union calls for inquiry into Conwy Council’s Great Orme ‘Witch Hunt’

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 just days into a court hearing.

FUW member Dan Jones, who became a tenant of the National Trust’s Parc Farm on the Great Orme in 2016, had originally faced 20 charges. But when the Council decided to drop charges and abandon the case on Friday June 7, District Judge Gwyn Jones told Mr. Jones: “Your good name remains.”

However, to pay for his legal defence 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. Despite the case having collapsed, there is little prospect of any costs awarded by the court coming close to covering the Jones’ expenses.

Conwy County Borough Council brought charges against Daniel Jones, whose tenancy sees him pay just £1 a year because of the farm’s delicate landscape, after members of the public reported seeing a dead sheep.

Jones told the court the exposed coastline got a “battering” from the weather and was at times dangerous. He even said there were times when he had to employ climbers to save sheep which had fallen off the cliff.

In a letter to Conwy Council chief executive Iwan Davies, the FUW accused the Council of having adopted an “aggressive approach which seemed to stand in stark contrast to those adopted by most Local Authorities”.

The union also claimed: “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 Jones, his wife, son and their wider family.

The letter concludes: “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.”