Llanelli Star reporter's seized notes retrieved
THE Star has retrieved the reporter's notes seized at a Llanelli council meeting.
It came as Llanelli Town and Rural Council clerks Mel Edwards and Mark Galbraith met with the reporter Chad Welch and Star editor Bede MacGowan at Star HQ.
The events surrounding the seizure of the notes last Thursday were discussed and Mr Galbraith handed them back.
Mr MacGowan said: "The meeting between ourselves, Mr Galbraith and Mr Edwards was amicable and allowed for a frank exchange of views, during which we were pleased to have Chad's notes returned to us.
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"I'm confident there won't be a repeat incident of this nature and we can now let the matter rest.
"Since a number of those present were under the impression they were talking in private, we won't be using the notes to form the direct basis of any article.
"But we will use the information garnered during the meeting to inform further lines of inquiry in the ongoing and vitally important campaign to save services at Llanelli hospital."
The return of the notes followed a strongly-worded opinion piece in this week's Star and mass interest on the web from appalled members of the public and influential figures of the journalism world.
Mr Edwards said: "I'm delighted that we have met to sort everything out and I'm confident that we will work together now to do all that we can to secure the best possible services for Llanelli."
The notes had been confiscated last Thursday during a meeting held jointly by Llanelli's town and rural councils to discuss health issues in the area – including the future of the A&E department at Prince Philip Hospital.
Present were Welsh Assembly members and a select group of town and rural councillors.
After taking notes on the meeting for around 45 minutes, councillors became aware that a reporter was present and announced that the meeting was private.
Mr Galbraith demanded that Chad hand over his notes and then ejected the trainee reporter from the rural council offices.
The Star had received a number of invitations to this meeting, so it was a shock to find it private — especially given it was over a matter of great public interest.
Assembly member Simon Thomas — who was present last Thursday — said: "I am pleased they've been returned. It is one thing for the meeting not to be reported, but taking the notes was clearly out of order.
"The wider question is — and I have e-mailed both town and rural council about this — they have to be very clear if they don't want meetings to be public. Let's hope that going forward, health matters should be discussed in public."
Councillor John Jenkins — who had not been invited to attend the meeting — said: "I am glad that commonsense has prevailed. Obviously they shouldn't have been taken in the first place.
"I hope now that we can put this behind us and continue what so far has been an excellent partnership in trying to save our hospital."