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First Minister hits out at Welsh media over reporting of scandals

11 Jun 2024 5 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

The First Minister has appeared to blame journalists for coverage of his scandal ridden tenure saying he regretted “how the whole thing was reported”.

His comments came during First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday (June 11) less than a week after he lost a vote of no confidence in the Senedd.

Tory MS Darren Millar opened the session by asking the embattled First Minister, “why are you here?”

Mr Gething has chosen to stay in post despite two of his own Labour back benchers failing to vote in his favour in a confidence motion because they were off with sickness.

The Tories have argued both Lee Waters and recently sacked junior minister Hannah Blythan had the option for remote or proxy voting.

Ms Blythyn was removed from the First Minister’s Cabinet after being accused of leaking information to the Welsh media.

It subsequently emerged that no official leak inquiry was conducted before the junior minister was sacked.

FOI

Her dismissal came 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.

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

Nation.Cymru has never revealed who it was that provided screen grabs.

Mr Gething has also been embroiled in a row over a huge donation to his leadership campaign from a man twice convicted for environmental offences.

The First Minister maintains the donation was “within the rules” but appointed former First Minister Carwyn Jones to lead an interval review of Welsh Labour processes.

Rigorous 

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth led a rigorous line of questioning in the Chamber this afternoon challenging the FM on the donation scandal and the Blythyn sacking.

He said: “What we have here is a First Minister’s judgment repeatedly being called into question. We’ve got the donation from a convicted polluter, but then there was the issue of how a Minister was recently sacked too, one of those not here last week.

“Sacking a minister is a serious matter, but it seems that the normal safeguards of natural justice weren’t afforded to the former deputy minister in this instance.”

‘Regret’

Mr Gething replied: “I regret the way that the last three months have been covered and reported, and I regret the impact of the choice I made within all of the rules at the time.”

“I would not want either myself or any of my colleagues to have had to go through that again. I recognise that there has been real damage caused to a range of people in this place.”

Mr Iorwerth, a former journalist himself, hit back at the First Minister asking: “So, it’s the way this has been covered, it’s the way it’s been reported?

“I’m a former journalist, I’m a member of the National Union of Journalists, are you blaming journalists for this? Are you blaming opposition Members for the way that we voted in that vote last week?”

Mr Gething responded saying: “One of the challenges in making choices as a leader is you have to not just think about what the right choice is, but you also have to consider that it’s only you that can make the decision, and you have to consider and balance a range of different consequences.”

He added that when taking the decision to sack Ms Blythyn he took advice from the Permanent Secretary to make sure he was acting within the ministerial code.

The screen grab in question first published by Nation.Cymru has been redacted to cover the names in chat.

Mr Gething says he wishes to “protect” the other people in the chat from “consequences”.

Later on X, formerly Twitter, Plaid Cymru MS Mabon ap Gwynfor accused the FM of “blaming journalists” for the series of scandals.

Mr ap Gwynfor posted: “First he ignores the Senedd’s democratic voice, and now he continues his crusade against journalists, another foundation of a functioning democracy.

“I don’t think the FM is aware that he is actually attacking democracy here. It’s a dangerous path he’s treading.”


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Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
2 days ago

“…..if he would apologise for the series of scandals surrounding him the FM said; that he regretted how the whole thing was reported.”

So the only regrets Vaughan Gething has, is the way the whole thing was reported! i.e. he got caught.
Sadly this sums up Vaughan Gething.

This after it emerged today, Hannah Blythyn was sacked without any formal enquiry.

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
2 days ago
Reply to  Welsh Patriot

Just to add on the last point, let’s not overlook Gething was a Trade Union employment lawyer. He knows the due process of investigation before a dismissal for conduct issues better than most.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
2 days ago

I have a way to save the F M’s travails.
Let’s have a soviet style press!!

Andy Lloyd
Andy Lloyd
2 days ago

This situation has gone beyond farce. The way that the First Minister presents as being impervious to criticism, seemingly unaware, or in denial of the consequences of his actions is bordering on pathological. Now, his latest claims to be the victim presented in his usual over controlled and emotionless manner suggest a psychotic, disconnect with reality which makes the whole situation even more concerning.

Gaynor
Gaynor
2 days ago
Reply to  Andy Lloyd

Clywch clywch. Croeso i North Korea Gethland style

Rob
Rob
2 days ago

Am I reading this right? He basically just regrets that people are talking about his scandals.

Alun
Alun
2 days ago

Gething is an utterly deluded individual.

I’m not sure what’s worse, whether he truly believes he did nothing wrong and everyone else is to blame or that he is lying through his teeth.

Adrian
Adrian
2 days ago
Reply to  Alun

Some diversity hires are more equal than others.

Llyn
Llyn
2 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Can you please explain this comment?

Karl
Karl
2 days ago

Disgusting and pathetic excuses coming thick and fast. When you are in the wrong, fig wide and get out of the hole, not deeper

A.Redman
A.Redman
2 days ago

Does he now want a gag order imposed on any media that reports public interest information on any of his behaviour that might cause him distress?

Why vote
Why vote
2 days ago

Q, Why delete the WhatsApp messages? What is he hiding? From the FOI something so secret he sacrificed a minister. You have to think what the right choice is and think about and balance a range of different consequences? What about doing and making all decisions the best for wales not your Ego or political party. He may not have done anything illegal with the donation accepting it was a really bad move, if any commoner had accepted £200.000 from anyone there would be an investigation and accusations of fraud and money laundering. He accepted money from a convicted criminal… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
2 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

It’s very very simple. He’s a completely dodgy character.

Mozart
Mozart
2 days ago

If Guessing is incapable of seeing the untenable situation he’s in you really have to question the judgment of those advising him, one of which is surely Stuart Doolally

Adrian
Adrian
2 days ago
Reply to  Mozart

Those advising Gething are nothing more than advisers: if they told him to put his fingers in the fire would he do it? No – Gething has agency here, and is 100% culpable for his own catalogue of misdeeds.

Adrian
Adrian
2 days ago

Oh – sorry Vaughan: is everyone supposed to pretend you haven’t dealt in dodgy cash, destroyed incriminating evidence, lied through your teeth to the Covid enquiry, signed off deals that bypassed proper process, sacked a female colleague for no reason you can justify, and clung to power despite a no-confidence vote? All on the back of stellar ‘failing-upwards’ career. I didn’t realise that incompetence is the new excellence! Jesus! Gething makes Boris Johnson look scrupulous…and that takes some doing.

Last edited 2 days ago by Adrian
Llyn
Llyn
2 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Please let us know what what deals VG signed off “that bypassed proper process”?

Adrian Bamford
Adrian Bamford
2 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Read more. It’s not my job to bring you up to speed.

Llyn
Llyn
2 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Bamford

No please name 2 of the deals that you day VG signed off “that bypassed proper process”?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 days ago

It’s quite simple Vaughan Gething. You could have apologised. Said you made an error of judgement. And returned the money back to that convicted criminal who damaged our environment. But you didn’t. You arrogantly refused. So don’t blame the press or opposition parties for reporting or scrutinising your ill-gotten gains to become First Minister. You forget what office you hold. Start acting like a statesman.

Erisian
Erisian
2 days ago

Oooo, he’s nearly as tetchy that Rishi bloke.
Still, that’s who the Unions, London Labour and a convicted poluter chose, so who am I to complain.

Last edited 2 days ago by Erisian
Linda Jones
Linda Jones
2 days ago

Gething is looking more ridiculous by the day. He is an embarrassment

Paul Symons
Paul Symons
2 days ago

So is VG saying that he doesn’t agree with Open Government?

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
2 days ago
Reply to  Paul Symons

Pretty much.

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
2 days ago

Another interesting point from yesterday is when discussing Hannah Blythyn and Lee Waters, Gething said about the importance of them being able to, “reintegrate back into my political group” and, “to have a way back.” They have only been absent for a matter of weeks (at most), so why would there be a need to “reintegrate?”
Language might be more appropriate if he were discussing people that had been absent for a year.or more.

Read between the lines folks. The opposite of integrate is segregate. Gething’s choice of words pretty much confirms Hannah Blythyn and Lee Waters have been alienated.

Brian Coman
Brian Coman
2 days ago

Who would have thought that Gething and Trump have political statements in common. They both blame journalists,
they both blame the opposition and proclaim their innocence.
The expressions on their faces when they listen to criticisms have similarities as well,I think sucking a lemon comes to mind !

Paul Symons
Paul Symons
2 days ago

Isn’t there a name for a leader of a country who disregards votes and removes people who disagree with them?

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
1 day ago
Reply to  Paul Symons

fascist dictator

Paul Symons
Paul Symons
1 day ago
Reply to  T3DSK1

And Kia Starmer is supporting him?

T3DSK1
T3DSK1
9 minutes ago
Reply to  Paul Symons

He’s North Korean then old Stammer you couldn’t make it up. It’s a pity Brian Rix wasn’t still here he could have wrote a good farce out of this

John Ellis
John Ellis
2 days ago

The Tories have argued both Lee Waters and recently sacked junior minister Hannah Blythyn had the option for remote or proxy voting.’

None of the journalism – at least that I’ve come across – has really delved deeply into that matter, which is a bit odd. I don’t fully understand what the Senedd rules around voting in absentia actually are.

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