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Covid Bereaved group releases video that pillories Gething for deleting messages

28 May 2024 5 minute read
Screen grab from the UK Covid-19 Inquiry live stream of of Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister during the pandemic. Photo UK Covid-19 Inquiry/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

The group representing Welsh people whose relatives died in the pandemic has released a video in which Vaughan Gething is pilloried for deleting messages that should have been passed to the UK Covid Inquiry.

Nation.Cymru published an iMessage sent by Mr Gething to ministerial colleagues when he was Health Minister in August 2020 that stated: “I’m deleting the messages in this group. They can be captured in an FOI [freedom of information request] and I think we are all in the right place on the choice being made.”

Magician

The video, made by the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, describes Mr Gething as “the best magician in Wales” because of his ability to make messages disappear.

Our disclosure that Mr Gething had deleted the messages indicated strongly that he had misled the UK Covid Inquiry. He had given both written and oral evidence to the Inquiry under oath in which he claimed messages had been deleted from his mobile phone during a refit by the Senedd’s IT department.

He went on to express both regret and embarrassment that he was unable to provide them. At no stage did Mr Gething admit that he had deleted messages because he considered they would be subject to freedom of information disclosure.

The UK Covid Inquiry asked all the governments of the UK to disclose to it all material they held relevant to the making of decisions during the Covid Inquiry. In the run-up to the publication of our May 7 story, the Welsh Government suggested to us that the messages could have been related to “anything”, but NationCymru was confident that the messages related to both the Welsh Government and to the handling of the Covid crisis.

Previously a statement issued to the users of Welsh Government mobile phones in February 2019 had made it clear that messages written on mobile phones could be regarded as Welsh Government business and should be preserved.

The video released by the Covid Bereaved group examines in detail statements made to the UK Inquiry both in writing and verbally by Mr Gething and other ministers.

At one point it shows lead counsel to the Inquiry Tom Poole KC asking Mr Gething: “Am I right in saying you do not have access to any of the text or WhatsApp messages you sent during the period when you were Minister for Health and Social Care – is that right?”

Mr Gething responded: “That’s correct. I’ve set that out in my witness statement how that’s happened as well [he claimed the messages were deleted by the Senedd’s IT department].”

The narrator of the video states at this point: “Let’s have a look at his statement. Here he says he did text on his Welsh Government phones, but it was not for decision making relating to the pandemic. So why does this matter? Well, on May 7 2024 NationCymru released a text from Vaughan Gething to other Labour cabinet ministers. This message is dated August 17 2020, the day that the Welsh Government announced that students would be graded by their teachers rather than an algorithm.

“Vaughan Gething defended his actions by saying this was a Labour chat. No decisions were made and he deleted it because they were being rude about another Labour MS. He didn’t want it released under a freedom of information request. And then he said: ‘I have not deleted information by text or WhatsApp to try to avoid scrutiny.’”

Leaked screenshot

The video then displays the screenshot of the message leaked to NationCymru in which he admitted doing just that.

The narrator goes on to state: “Let’s go back to his list of excuses. This was a Labour group chat. No! This was a cabinet ministers’ text group chat during the pandemic. This is exactly the sort of thing the UK Covid Inquiry asked you to disclose. Incidentally, it’s what your own Welsh Government tells you is public record too.”

The video also raises questions about whether other ministers followed Mr Gething’s lead in deleting messages that should have been passed to the UK Inquiry.

Cover-up

Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees, who leads the Covid Bereaved group, told NationCymru: “We have spent weeks poring over the details of what Vaughan Gething said in his written and oral evidence to the Covid Inquiry. The leaked message reinforced our suspicions that there has been a mass cover-up from those in the Welsh Government. We cannot allow this to go unchecked.

“Sadly the UK Covid Inquiry does not have the time and resources to investigate in detail. We’ve made a video showing the headlines of our concerns but there’s so much more that needs to be answered.

“We can now understand why Welsh Labour have blocked a Wales Covid Inquiry, opting instead for a quicker less Welsh-focussed UK Inquiry, but it does not satisfy those bereaved by Covid in Wales. We implore the UK Covid Inquiry to recall Vaughan Gething or publicly explain why they won’t.”


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Llyn
Llyn
20 days ago

I wouldn’t expect anything else from this lot. On social media they are a trolling machine who are clearly campaigning against Labour in Wales and pre-judging the findings of the UK wide enquiry to call for the administration of future pandemics to be centralised and basically run by the UK Gov. This group are playing Plaid supporters by having their praise and re-tweets but wanting to give powers to Westminster.

Uhh
Uhh
20 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Hate to tell you this but VG is already “basically run by the UK Gov”. He’s Kieth’s man in Wales

hdavies15
hdavies15
20 days ago
Reply to  Uhh

Llyn can’t hear you. He’s switched his hearing device so that it can only pick up positive spin for VG.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
20 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Agree!!! Horrible group of people.

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
20 days ago

I am a bereaved relative & this group DO NOT represent me, or my family.
This group are nothing but a jumped-up, far right, libertarian bunch of conspiracy-loving freaks.

Erisian
Erisian
20 days ago

You do realize that any criticism of Gethin may be construed as racism….

Steve George
Steve George
20 days ago

But, but, but .. they don’t like Welsh (sic) Labour and, and, and….racism! They just dont seem to understand that Labour in Wales has a god given right to rule as it sees fit and shouldn’t have to answer questions or be accountable. Anyone who says different is a tory or a dupe!

My god they’re circling rhe wagons. Maybe even the apparatchiks who run labour in Wales are beginning to panic slightly.

Rob
Rob
20 days ago

These groups need to tread carefully otherwise they will be branded as white nationalists

Steve George
Steve George
20 days ago
Reply to  Rob

People campaigning for an inquiry into why their loved ones died are ‘white nationalists’? Really? Are you denented? Has your loyalty to the Labour party renoved any sense of decency? Is that what the Labour party does now when confronted with people with the temerity to criticise it. Just smears?

I speak as a lifelong active trade unionist who would rather cut off his arm than vote Tory.

Rob
Rob
20 days ago
Reply to  Steve George

My comment was tongue in cheek, and was a response to the recent ridiculous smears of racism whenever someone criticises Vaughan Gething.

Last edited 20 days ago by Rob
Why vote
Why vote
20 days ago

Since VG was thrust upon Wales as the leader all he has said is, it was not me, I didn’t say, didn’t do, I followed all the rules, your fired. which script is he following? Yes minister, or only fools and horses? The Dell boy of welsh politics head of the labour party welsh branch.

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK
Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK
20 days ago

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK is a group of nearly 7,000 bereaved people from every part of the UK, campaigning to ensure that our losses are learnt from and that the terrible mistakes made during the pandemic are never repeated again.  In 2021, we secured the Covid Inquiry, and today we are working tirelessly to ensure that the voices of the bereaved are at the core of all of the inquiry’s work, to raise awareness of the appalling evidence that is emerging from the inquiry and to ensure that the learnings are turned into legislation that saves lives in… Read more »

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