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Concerns Gething deleted messages taken ‘very seriously’ by Covid inquiry

30 May 2024 4 minute read
Vaughan Gething Covid iMessage screen grab

Concerns that the First Minister may have deleted messages during the pandemic are being taken “very seriously” by the Covid inquiry, a representative has said.

Vaughan Gething, the embattled Welsh Labour leader, may have to give further evidence to the inquiry over fears he deleted messages that may be important to its work.

It comes after a series of text messages were leaked to Nation.Cymru from a 2020 ministerial group chat, in which Mr Gething said he was “deleting the messages in this group” because they could be caught by the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Gething previously told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry that separate lost WhatsApp messages were not deleted by him, but by the Welsh Parliament’s IT team during a security rebuild.

Denied

The First Minister has always denied the leak contradicted evidence he gave to the inquiry, insisting it was not related to pandemic decision-making.

Since the messages were made public, the Conservatives have repeatedly demanded he be recalled to the inquiry.

A letter from the Covid inquiry’s secretary to Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, on Wednesday said: “The inquiry is aware of the article of May 7 published by Nation Cymru regarding Mr Gething’s WhatsApp messages.

“The inquiry takes allegations of destruction of potentially relevant materials very seriously and will take any steps it considers appropriate, including issuing requests for written statements pursuant to Rule 9 of The Inquiry Rules 2006.”

Answers

Responding to the letter, Mr RT Davies said: “Families who lost loved ones during the pandemic expect answers from the Labour Welsh Government.

“Vaughan Gething has not set the record straight on his deletion of Covid messages, and it’s very encouraging that the inquiry takes these allegations seriously.

“It’s time for Gething to level with bereaved families and provide a clear explanation on what messages were deleted and why.”

On social media, Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said: “(Inquiry chairwoman) Baroness Hallett is not ruling out Vaughan Gething being re-called to the COVID inquiry, saying the inquiry takes ‘allegations of destruction of potentially relevant materials very seriously’.

“He needs to be recalled.

“Sir Keir Starmer also needs to discuss this with him today.”

Concern

Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth also wrote to Covid inquiry’s secretary with concerns about the deletion of ministerial messages and received a similar response to the Tory leader.

He said: “The fact that the UK Covid inquiry is giving serious consideration to recalling Vaughan Gething as a witness is a grave matter.

“The public expect their First Minister to give full and accurate accounts of their actions, particularly in a matter as sensitive as this.

“Vaughan Gething is ducking and diving his way through the first months in office, apparently deleting important messages and accepting dodgy donations.

“The First Minister and Labour Welsh government should be acting without distraction but regrettably they are consumed by scandal  at a time when the challenges facing our economy and public services are so vast.”

Confidence vote

Meanwhile, Mr Gething faces a confidence vote in the Senedd on 5 June following the collapse of a co-operation deal with Plaid Cymru earlier this month.

Mr Gething has been involved in a series of scandals since becoming First Minister.

Concerns were raised after he accepted a donation from a man convicted of environmental offences during his run to be Welsh Labour leader.

Mr Gething has also refused to show any evidence to explain why he sacked Senedd member Hannah Blythyn from his Government after he accused her of leaking to the media.

Ms Blythyn insisted she was “clear and have been clear that I did not, nor have I ever, leaked anything” and was “deeply shocked” at her dismissal.

Labour leader Sir Keir is visiting Wales on Thursday and will meet Mr Gething.

Sir Keir recently gave the Welsh First Minister his backing, telling reporters on Wednesday that Mr Gething is “doing a good job”.


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Llyn
Llyn
19 days ago

In the 2nd attack article on Vaughan Gething of the today, I see much self righteous furry about a deletion of one message. Remember Rishi Sunak, the boss of Andrew RT Davies, deleted all his COVID era WhatsApp messages! Have Nation.Cymru ventured to ask about this? Probably not.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

He needs a hand, the Senedd is in sore need of a spring clean, it is obvious…

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

U seem to be against holding Gething to account. Democracy requires journalists to investigate and hold politicians to account or it doesnt work. Thank goodness for Nation Cymru I say or Gething behaviour would be swept under the carpet.

Llyn
Llyn
19 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

I have zero problems with Gething being held to account. But natural justice suggests if VG is in trouble over one deletion what trouble is Sunak for deleting ALL his messages? And shouldn’t Andrew RT Davies have been asked about this?

hdavies15
hdavies15
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

UK press can scrutinise Sunak and N.C could join in but the dodgy people in the Bay led by VG are keeping N.C busy. And after all ARTD and his crew are bit part players of no real consequence. I guess we’ve already written them off but had been led to expect better from the Labour crew.

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

There are plenty of England based media sources that can hold Westminster politicians to account if they so wish.
Better to direct criticism at them rather than complain when the very few media sources that are dedicated to Welsh politics hold our politicians to account..

Westminster and England’s media should not be our benchmark when it comes to dealing with such incidents.

Llyn
Llyn
19 days ago
Reply to  CapM

It wouldn’t have been too hard to ask Andrew RT Davies a question about Sunak’s mass deletion of messages.

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

“It wouldn’t have been too hard to ask Andrew RT Davies a question about Sunak’s mass deletion of messages.”

It wouldn’t have been too hard for who to ask.

Was RTDavies statements made in an interview with NationCymru ?
If not your criticism should be made, most probably, to the English media.

FrankC
FrankC
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

How is this an attack? This is the legally constituted official Covid inquiry expressing concern at the behaviour of the First Minister.

Do you think NationCymru should ignore it?

Llyn
Llyn
19 days ago
Reply to  FrankC

I’ve not said they should ignore it. But should Nation.Cymru ignore (which they have and are) the fact that Rishi Sunak deleted ALL his COVID era WhatsApp messages? Sunak’s deletion is demonstrably far more damaging for the COVID inquiry. Should they not have asked Andrew RT Davies about this inconvenient fact?

FrankC
FrankC
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Gething is the First Minister of Wales. I’m guessing that’s why Nation Cymru are reporting it. This is just desperate whataboutery from an obvious Gething loyalist

Steve George
Steve George
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Classic whataboutery!

Have you ever heard the expression, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Llyn
Llyn
19 days ago
Reply to  Steve George

Nothing to do with Whataboutery. Everything to do with balanced and fair reporting.

CapM
CapM
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

On one hand we have a Welsh government Minister who might have committed perjury….er that’s it.

Alun
Alun
19 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Hello Mr Gething

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