Letter from Wales: How the Welsh press is in hock to the Welsh government

by Julian Ruck

Readers will know that I’ve had my run-ins with the Western Mail. Their reluctance to expose profligacy by the Welsh government has been perplexing. Until now.

Some digging on the Western Mail has revealed the following:

John Humphries, its former editor, deputy editor and news editor has written a taxpayer subsidised book titled ‘Freedom Fighters’, a treatise on the cause of Welsh language nationalism.

Meic Stephens, a writer for the Western Mail who has authored, edited more than 200 Welsh books (I gave up on counting the number paid for by the taxpayer). Former Literature editor at the Arts Council Wales and retired Professor of Welsh writing at the University of Glamorgan.

Mario Basini ( a recipient of a £1,686 taxpayer hand out to stay at home and scribble), was literary editor at the Western Mail for 4 years, the gentleman has been a presenter for BBC Wales and Radio Wales – as if one would ever expect anything less?

It gets better.

Please note the following FoI data:

In the last financial year, 2012-13, the amount of money the Welsh Government spent on advertising in a) The Western Mail b) The Daily Post c) all Trinity Mirror publications.

The information that you requested is provided below.  Please note that the figure shown for all Trinity Mirror publications excludes figures for the Western Mail and Daily Post.

Publication Advertising Expenditure 2012-13
The Western Mail £209,313.99
The Daily Post £190,770.11
All Trinity Mirror publications £193,319.18

Here are two responses to the above, one from Mr Martin Shipton (Chief Reporter at the Western Mail, whose book was paid for by the taxpayer as noted in my last Letter), and Rupert Smith, Head of Communications at Trinity Mirror, Mr Shipton’s master’s:

Jun 30 at 11:57 PM

Here is my quote for your latest piece. I ask you to use it in full.
“The pitiful rubbish you have sent me cannot even be classed as citizen journalism. You have produced no evidence whatsoever of a scandal in the Welsh arts world. It occurs to me that your posturing outrage stems from past decisions not to publish your offerings because of your demonstrable lack of literary talent.”

Rupert Smith “Hi Julian, We’re not making any comment. Best wishes, Rupert Rupert Smith Head of Communications”

Readers will note the total lack of any substantive correction or denial of the data posted. In the case of Mr Shipton, personal insult is all very well, but it doesn’t quite cut the ice does it?

Considering the above, it is hardly surprising then that the ‘independent ‘Welsh media, and in this instance more particularly the Western Mail, has been struck dumb in its reporting of the scandalous abuse of the taxpayer in its own ranks (apart from the usual exploitation of personal insult), this is in spite of my own exposures here on Uncut, at Welsh Assembly press briefings and in the national media.

The ‘newspaper’ along with its cronies at BBC Wales and ITV Wales is nothing but a disreputable passenger on the Taffia Express taxpayer gravy train looking out for the next fast buck.

Independent scrutiny of Welsh public life?

Like hell.

Julian Ruck is a novelist, broadcaster and columnist. His most recent novel is ‘The Silver Songsters’ (pub. April 2014) 

12 Responses to “Letter from Wales: How the Welsh press is in hock to the Welsh government”

  1. Tafia says:

    This is total rubbish and makes no mention of the most basic fact of all – Trinity Mirror control most of the papers at regional and local level and that Trinity Mirror are Labour.

    It’s not the Welsh government that is in hock to Trinity Mirror. It’s the Labour Party. A four year old cou tell you that – ad in North West Wales probably bi-lingually well.

    The usual garbage from the usual junk author and bit part tosser in general.

  2. Mr Ruck, I apologise in advance, but as far as I can see Meic Stephens has written or edited just a couple of dozen books, though he has contributed to others. Could you post a link to show he has “authored, edited more than 200 Welsh books”? Here’s a link I found, though this doesn’t list his work:


  3. Crazy horse says:

    ….Rupert Smith, Head of Communications at Trinity Mirror, Mr Shipton’s master’s:

    Mr Shipton’s master’s what?

  4. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    While I enjoyed Mr Shipton’s reply to you, I’m not sure I understand the point of this article. Can you please spell out what you think the various facts and figures mean in context, rather than relying on nudge-nudge, wink-wink insinuation? You may genuinely have a point, and yet at the moment it’s not clear. But then, we’ve been here before.

  5. Tafia says:

    Mr Shipton’s master’s what?

    Mr Shipton’s master’s rogue apostrophe.

  6. Mr Akira Origami says:


    The Taffia Express taxpayer gravy train….. it’s true!


    It will be a travesty of justice if the Welsh Assembly don’t pick up something at the British Comedy Awards.

  7. Louise Walsh says:


    Are you saying that Martin Shipton and others at the Western Mail are censoring themselves when it comes to criticising the Welsh Government because they may have received moderate advances from the Welsh publishers?

    Isn’t Poor Man’s Parliament a popular read? I’ve heard it’s on the recommended reading list for some Uni politics courses. I cannot believe Martin Shipton hasn’t already made Seren the money back on whatever advance he may have received.

    Therefore, even if the Welsh Government has indirectly provided the money for an advance, Martin Shipton has no doubt paid it back in book sales.

    Very best,

  8. Dave says:

    What does this embittered rant have to do with labour politics or welsh politics? In what way is the welsh assembly advertising in welsh papers a scandal – jobs have to be advertised dont they? And where is there any evidence of malfeasance? This is simply junk.
    Good for shipton though -he clearly knows julian for what he is.

  9. David Hewson says:

    Latest Ruck revelation – when the Welsh government wants to advertise something it places that advertising with the existing Welsh media.

    Er… where else are they supposed to place it?

    You’ve really just wasted several hundred pounds of public money on yet another idiotic FoI request simply to discover that people who place advertising do so with media outlets that sell it?

    Why not FoI yourself and reveal here how many FoI requests you’ve made over the last two years so we can see what a cost Julian Ruck’s ego is to the taxpayer?

  10. John abell says:

    Seems to me that Mr Shiptin has merely got the complete measure of Julian Schmuck, and for that he’s to be commended. I’m not sure what the point of the article is, not even sure Julian is (but then all his writing is comically incoherent). Mario Basini receiving £1700 odd is not a scandal, and neither is government advertising in media, which happens everywhere on earth. Julian, what’s your issue with Parthian and Seren? Is it because they rejected you?

  11. stevemosby says:

    Julian –

    I know you’ve said you’re not replying to anybody, so this may well be a fruitless enquiry, but I’m genuinely interested: what is your underlying philosophy when it comes to government funding/subsidy of the Arts? Should it never happen? Should it only happen when there’s a financial return? If not, what are you looking for?

    You don’t have to answer, and of course you probably won’t (some would say can’t), but I would be interested in trying to better understand the framework you’re waving so desperately to us from.

  12. John abell says:

    Some goods points raised, again julian is incapable of answering them. Julian, be a man, how much tax payers money have you wasted on utterly pointless foi requests?

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