Paul Davies has resigned as Welsh Conservative leader in the Senedd.
It is alleged that he and other politicians drank alcohol on Welsh Parliament premises, days after the ban on serving drinks in pubs took effect.
Mr Davies said that he was “truly sorry” for his actions, and that they had “damaged trust” with the Welsh people. Conservative MS Darren Millar, who was also involved, has also said that he is stepping down from his frontbench role.
An internal investigation has established that alcohol was consumed by five people at the Senedd during a lockdown. According to a statement by Llywydd, Elin Jones MS, four of these are elected members, and the Standards Commissioner will now investigate to see of the Code of Conduct was broken.
It has been concluded that a possible breach of regulations occurred and the matter has also been referred to to Cardiff Council.
It is understood that Labour Senedd member Alun Davies was involved, and he has been suspended by his party A solicitor for Conservative MS Nick Ramsay has issued a statement on behalf of his client, which says that he was not involved, and that he “sat on his own” and “had a chicken curry”.
Paul Davies said: “I am truly sorry for my actions on the 8th and 9th December. They have damaged the trust and respect that I have built up over 14 years in the Welsh Parliament with my colleagues and the wider Conservative Party but more importantly with the people of Wales.
“Whilst using the Senedd facilities at all times my colleagues and I maintained social distancing. There was no drunk or disorderly behaviour.
“We did not have to be escorted out of the building as some reports have suggested. What we did was to have some alcohol with a meal we heated up in a microwave, which was a couple of glasses of wine on the Tuesday and a beer on the Wednesday. I broke no actual Covid-19 regulations.
“For the last 10 months of the pandemic, I have followed the Covid-19 regulations to the letter. As with everyone across Wales, I have not seen family members or friends, I’ve not eaten at my favourite restaurants and, like you, we enjoyed a subdued Christmas compared to other years.
“I will continue to follow the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 Regulations and I would urge everyone to play their part in defeating this virus so that we can all return to normality.”
He added: “My priority as Leader of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament has always been to bring the Conservatives into government in Wales. Our main focus as the Welsh Conservatives must always be on challenging and removing a failing Labour government.
“I am grateful for the support of colleagues in the Welsh Conservative Party for their support in this difficult time, and especially to my wife Julie and my Senedd colleagues who have offered empathy, trust and advice. They have treated me with the same courtesy and decency I hope I have always extended to others.
“Over the last couple of days, I have been speaking with colleagues in the Senedd and the wider Conservative Party. Whilst they have confirmed they do not wish to see me step down, I believe that my actions are becoming a distraction from holding this failing Welsh Labour-led Government to account, not just on their roll out of the Covid-19 vaccines but from more than 20 years of their dither, delay and failure.
“Yesterday I indicated to the Conservative group in the Welsh Parliament that I wished to resign, but they urged me to reflect further, and we agreed to meet again on Monday. However, for the sake of my party, my health and my own conscience, I simply cannot continue in post.
“Therefore, I am stepping down as Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament with immediate effect.
“It is for the group to decide how best to choose a new leader, but I hope that process will be seamless and speedy, and I pledge my support to whoever becomes leader.”
Helen Mary Jones MS, Plaid Cymru Mid and West reacted to the news: “Even when the Tory Senedd group was giving its unanimous support to the leader and chief whip, it was obvious to everyone else that their positions were untenable. Everyone will be asking what took them so long.
“No amount of rearranging the deckchairs will make a chaotic and increasingly right wing Tory party fit to govern Wales.”