Abolish the Assembly co-founder directs company that boasts of doing business with Welsh Government
The co-founder of the Abolish the Welsh Assembly party is also the director of a company that boasts of doing business with the Welsh Government, Nation.Cymru can reveal.
Abolish the Assembly, which was set-up by Jonathan Harrington in 2015, says that “the Assembly is another expensive tier of government which is totally unnecessary.”
But the website of Optima Excel, the agriculture consultancy firm run by Harrington, shows he is happy to have – or be seen to have – the devolved administration amongst its clients.
The front page of the company’s website states: “Our customers include: 2L Research, Nufarm UK, Welsh assembly Government, Barclay Chemicals, and The Voluntary Initiative.”
However Nation.Cymru could find no evidence that the Welsh Government is a client of Optima Excel.
In a reply to a freedom of information request, the Welsh Government said the company “does not appear on the Welsh Government’s finance system”.
Although Harrington stepped down as leader of Abolish the Assembly in April, the party’s headquarters continues to be registered at a Brecon address shared with Optima Excel.
The party’s website asks potential donors to send cheques to the company’s address.
Nation.Cymru can also reveal that Harrington is one of four directors of a new limited company called Abolish Ltd registered with Companies House on October 30.
The three other directors are party leader Richard Suchorzewski, party co-founder Ivan Parker, and the party’s Senedd researcher Simon Rees.
All four directors and the company are registered at the Brecon address shared with Optima Excel.
Our findings come after BBC Wales reported that Abolish the Assembly is itself to be abolished as a result of an internal power struggle.
As a result of being forced-off the party’s board in April, former party leader David Bevan refused to sign the party’s annual return to the Electoral Commission.
“The Electoral Commission stated that he could only be removed with his own consent, which we found outrageous, leaving us with two options; succumb to the attempted blackmail or allow the party to de-register and re-register again,” a party spokesperson explained.
The party now faces a race against time to register by February in order to stand at next May’s Senedd elections, when they are predicted to win four regional list seats.
The decision by Abolish the Assembly to establish a limited company in the meantime follows a precedent set by Nigel Farage’s Brexit party.
Farage is one of four people with “significant control” of the Brexit party limited, which gives him the power to hire and fire other senior party figures.
The Independent Group for Change also registered a limited company before becoming a political party, with critics accusing them of doing so to avoid reporting donations.
Abolish Limited’s statement of objectives says the company has been formed to “to carry out marketing activities for the party, to act as a repository for copyrighted material relating to the party [and] to hold and manage property belonging to the party.”
Its first full accounts do not need to be filed until July 2022.