Richard Thomas appointment backfires: why the regional director left CRT

We now have a clearer picture of why Richard Thomas, Regional Director for Wales and the South West, has left CRT. Sources close to CRT and from the wider community concur in saying that he was difficult to work with, abrasive and unpredictable. It looks as though he left by mutual consent rather than as the result of disciplinary action.

His departure was sudden and unexplained, with an apparently normal working day in the morning of Monday 10th June 2019. At 8.30am on June 10th Mr Thomas sent an email about the Communities on the Western K&A newsletter saying “I intend to publish it in July”.

By the next day, his name had been removed from the list of regional directors. An item in the CRT press briefing at Hatton on Tuesday 11th June stated that Jon Horsfall was the interim Regional Director for Wales and the South West. Mr Horsfall is also CRT’s Head of Customer Service Support.

Certainly Richard Thomas created enough bad feeling for someone using the name ‘Bill Jones’ to allege that he defrauded CRT of a large sum of money, which we don’t think is true. We can, however, confirm that he could be unprofessional and threatening. For example, in a meeting with boater representatives, he shut down discussion of a specific enforcement matter by saying “now you’re going to make me get angry”.

CRT’s response to the allegation by ‘Bill Jones’ was to say that: “The Trust can categorically confirm that this claim is wholly unfounded. There have been no allegations of financial impropriety, or indeed any other misconduct, against Richard Thomas,” in a comment on this web site.

Richard Thomas had an apparently successful career in the Royal Navy, holding some senior positions including Chief of Staff at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham where presumably his management style was acceptable. There has been a practice since WW2 and before of ex-Navy people moving to management (and other) roles in the inland waterways, but perhaps this skills transfer has outlived its usefulness. CRT’s new structure and re-branding has not worked well in this case.

Jon Horsfall, interim Regional Director for Wales and South West from 11th June 2019

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8 Responses to “Richard Thomas appointment backfires: why the regional director left CRT”

  1. Bob Naylor MonsterID Icon Bob Naylor says:

    I and a fellow journalist went to interview Richard Thomas days after his appointment. Within minutes of us meeting him he said that everything he would say was ‘off the record’ and he said that he would not allow pictures of him to be taken. Not a complete waste of time because it made it very clear just what sort of person had been appointed to be the public face of CRT in the region. Bob Naylor

  2. Mr Simon Bebbington MonsterID Icon Mr Simon Bebbington says:

    As a retired Naval Officer I think it a little harsh to compare the many successfully retired officers and other ranks with what appears to be a one off disagreement. Naval leadership styles are very personal and it appears in this case it did not suit CRT – indeed it may not have suited the Navy!! At the end of the day we will probably never know the whole truth and conjecture is not always helpful.

    • Neil Unwin MonsterID Icon Neil Unwin says:

      Quite right, Simon. In reality, there is not a great deal of substance in this article that confirms anything solid.

      • admin MonsterID Icon admin says:

        Well perhaps, Neil, it is better to tell you what we do know without embellishing it with speculation. If you want to ‘confirm something solid’ then I suggest you speak to CRT

        • Neil Unwin MonsterID Icon Neil Unwin says:

          Or don’t publish until you do? Otherwise, it serves no purpose whatsoever. And no. I’m not going to do your job for you.

  3. Biddy MonsterID Icon Biddy says:


  4. ROY VINCE MonsterID Icon ROY VINCE says:

    CRT can be summed up as a tree full of monkeys. The monkeys at the top look down and all they see is monkeys. But the monkeys at the bottom look up and all they can see is Arse holes.