A reader has sent me a link to a story on the BBC’s website about a Rhodri Colwyn Philipps who has been “charged with making malicious communications, with racially aggravated factors” to one Gina Miller, who many of you will know as the lady who brought the case that resulted in Theresa May being forced to seek Parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50.
The Daily Mail has an even more lurid account.
The name seemed familiar and when I read further down the page I realised why – the BBC reports that: “Rhodri Colwyn Philipps is also known as the 4th Viscount St Davids and holds the titles Lord Strange of Knockin, Lord Hungerford, and Lord de Moleyns.”
The Hon Rhodri’s unorthodox business practices have made several appearances in these pages.
He first came to my attention back in 1997 when he was given a 99-year lease on the former Mine Depot in Milford Haven at little more than a peppercorn rent.
He had big plans to set up a company, Crownridge Steel Co, to produce stainless steel wire.
The bulk product (stainless steel bars) was to be imported from Sweden via Middlesbrough and transported to Pembrokeshire by road where large numbers of highly paid workers would be employed to roll it into fine wire to be sold on at a handsome profit.
At least that was the story Rhodri and his business partner told the assembled members of the recently reconstituted Pembrokeshire County Council during a presentation in the old Cambria House.
Once jobs were mentioned they swallowed it whole though there were those, Old Grumpy included, who wondered whether it might not be more efficient to produce this wire in Middlesbrough, but we were scoffed at by the scheme’s supporters, prominent among whom was Cllr Eddie Setterfield.
As it happens we were right because before too long the company had gone belly up owing PCC a pile of money.
Indeed, one local wit suggested it should have been called Crownridge Steal.
Fortunately, the council had a personal guarantee from Rhodri and promises were made that he would be pursued to the end of the earth to recover taxpayers’ cash.
Didn’t happen of course, which should be a lesson to anyone who believes these current stories about the council suing consultants over the failed scheme to hive the authority’s sports centres off to a trust.
There was an amusing postscript to this sorry tale because when the list of creditors landed on my doormat it included Edward George Setterfield – £800.
Eddie and Rhodri had become very chummy and soon after Rhodri took occupation of the Mine Depot the Western Telegraph reported that Cllr Setterfield and his sister Barbara had attended a polo match at Cardiff Castle as the guests of Rhodri and his father Viscount St Davids (since deceased).
As the Telegraph didn’t have a polo correspondent I wondered how the paper came by this story and concluded that the Viscount had been doing a bit of name-dropping.
The £800 was in respect of Eddie’s touring caravan which Rhodri had taken down to the Mine Depot to use a a site office.
Unfortunately, when the company went bust, the receivers seized the caravan.
That inspired the following limerick:
Eddie thought it was all very pukka,
Going to Cardiff to witness a chukka,
With the Hon Rhodri,
And Viscount St D,
Cost him eight hundred quid silly…
I offered a bottle of Merlot to the first person to complete the rhyme and had to drink it myself when nobody came up with the correct answer (sucker).
The wayward aristo next appeared on my radar when a journalist from the London Evening Standard, who came across my scribblings after Googling Rhodri’s name, pointed me to stories in the press about his looting of the German company Hans Brochier.
It seems Eddie wasn’t the only one to be taken in.
If you’re looking for some light entertainment and have an hour to spare follow the links on the Hans Brochier post above.