Court Case against the Docks Board 1977-1979
In June 1950 after returning to Newport from Newtown and his years in the army, Aubrey got a job as a clerk in the accounts department of the British Transport Docks Board. Over the next 13 years, he worked at all five South Wales Ports, but predominantly at Cardiff, before finally being appointed as Assistant to the Docks Manager at Newport in 1963, and later in 1964, Assistant Docks Manager at Port Talbot. Finally in February 1965 he was appointed as Assistant Docks Manager at Cardiff, a position he was to retain for the remainder of his working career.
Aubrey proved to be very efficient in his role at Cardiff Docks, whose fortunes changed dramatically during his tenure. As a result, he was later offered two Docks Manager’s position’s, one of which was believed to be at Southampton. Both of these were turned down, one for family reasons and the other for professional reasons.
When in May 1977 Aubrey became Mayor of Newport, he was given a year’s leave of absence from the Docks Board to fulfill his duties as Mayor. During this time, allegations of corruption against him and a local businessman in Cardiff, Lihu Ichilov surfaced that were to make national headlines, and ruin both of their professional careers.
Charged by the British Transport Police over these allegations, the cases against both Aubrey and Lihu Ichilov were later dismissed at Cardiff Stipendiary Magistrates in early 1979. Ordered to reinstate Aubrey to his former position as Assistant Docks Manager at Cardiff, the British Transport Docks Board refused, and Aubrey was awarded £11,635 in compensation for unfair dismissal. This at the time was the highest amount ever awarded by an Industrial Tribunal. The current record is £4.5 million.
The case against Aubrey came at a time when there was a spate of corruption charges against local politicians, and Aubrey was undoubtedly a high profile victim of what appeared to be a crusade. The British Transport Police later claimed that the case against Aubrey was instigated by James Callaghan who was Prime Minster at this time. However, it later emerged that James Callaghan knew nothing about this, although the charges were instigated in his name. James Callaghan was so horrified by these events, and the effects on Aubrey that he later wrote him a personal letter of apology.
In 1985, an independent review of the case concluded that the investigation was “incompetently authorised” and “incompetently conducted”. In 2012, thirty-five years after the case and fourteen years after Aubrey’s death, Det. Chief Superintendent Maurice Woodman who was the chief investigating officer in the case, stated that the charges against Aubrey would not have been made had he not been a politician. This was despite the fact that the charges had nothing to do with Aubrey’s political career.
After 1977, Aubrey never worked again, surviving until 1988 when he qualified for his pension, on his savings and personal investments, as well as his £10 a day attendance allowance at Newport Borough Council.
Wales this week Documentary, 24th March 1983
The paperwork covering the case against both Aubrey and Lihu Ichilov amount to over 10,000 pages. All of these papers have been read and the story of this chapter in Aubrey’s life will form a major part of the book being written about him. This will cover many events only recently uncovered, as well as the aftermath of the case that lasted until 1987. However, to give a taste of the circumstances of the case against Aubrey, a link to a Wales this Week documentary of the case is given below. Aired in 1983 after a five month investigation, this was at the time the biggest case ever covered by them. It should be noted that this video has been copied from an old VHS tape, and is not of the highest quality, particularly for the first five minutes.