A MAJOR shareholder in the parent companies of the Pembrokeshire Herald newspaper group has been jailed for nine years for drug dealing.

Erfan Felix Al-Talal was sentenced following a hearing at Swansea crown court on Monday, September 24.

The court had heard how officers from Tarian, the Regional Organised Crime Unit, executed a warrant at an address in Pocketts Wharf, Swansea, on Friday, August 24, and found more than a kilogram of cocaine and cutting agents, along with £30,000 cash and other valuable assets.

Al-Talal was arrested and charged with possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and money laundering.

He entered a guilty plea.

Al-Talal has a long association with the Herald newspaper, having helped set up the company in 2013.

In the official 2014 annual return, held at Companies House, Al-Talal is listed as holding 25,000 shares in Pembrokeshire Herald Ltd, 11 Hamilton Terrace, Milford Haven – a third of the company.

Current Herald editor Thomas Hutton Sinclair and John Fredrick Hammond are also listed as having 25,000 shares each.

Al-Talal was also listed on professional social media site Linkedin as Senior Managing Director of Pembrokeshire Herald Ltd.

A 2015 annual return lists 50,000 shares in the company, divided equally between Mr Sinclair and Al-Talal. The company was dissolved in June 2016.

In 2017, dormant company accounts up to December 2016 list three shareholders – Al-Talal, Mr Sinclair and Mr Hammond – as each having 50,000 shares in successor company Herald Newspapers PLC, with a current registered office address of 107-111 Fleet Street, London.

Previous registered office addresses of5 Jupiter House Calleva Park, Aldermaston, near Reading, and Barlow House, 22a Hamilton Terrace, Milford Haven are also recorded for Herald Newspapers PLC.

Al-Talal is also registered as director of J&F Double Glazing Factory Limited, with a service address given as 11 Hamilton Terrace. However, Mr Sinclair last week claimed that the firm was based in Clydach, near Swansea, and had no link to the Herald.

The Western Telegraph contacted Tom Sinclair with a list of questions; Mr Sinclair responding with a statement.

In a statement, a spokesman for The Herald said: “Felix Al-Talal was one of several shareholders who put in money to start the Pembrokeshire Herald in 2013.

“His shareholding was 50 per cent, until company reorganisation on January 1, 2016 when it was reduced to 33 per cent.

“Felix Al-Talal sold his shares in December 2017 and is no longer associated with the company.

“His investment has long since been repaid to him.”

Mr Sinclair said: “I met Mr Al-Talal for the first time in March 2013. He was introduced as a potential investor by a third party.

“Following several meetings, he agreed to invest into the newspaper.

“He was very professional at all times, and there was nothing to suggest that something like this could happen in the future.

“As a shareholder he had no influence on editorial content of the newspaper, but did make visits to the Milford Haven office on a handful of occasions.”

Erfan Felix Al-Talal with Thomas Hutton Sinclair at a Herald Christmas party.

However, a former Herald employee, who did not wish to be named, said Al-Talal was a regular visitor to the Herald’s Hamilton Terrace offices throughout 2018.

“He was probably there twice a week and sometimes you wouldn’t see him for 10 days,” said the former employee. “He was definitely there a few times a month.

“He’d turn up and they would go in to Tom’s office, Felix would quickly leave and Tom would act as if nothing had happened."