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Formal complaint lodged against Vaughan Gething’s ‘dodgy donations’

28 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething. Picture by the Welsh Government.

Martin Shipton

A formal complaint has been made to the Senedd’s Standards Commissioner about Vaughan Gething’s acceptance of donations totalling £200k to his Welsh Labour leadership campaign from a convicted polluter.

The move follows advice given to First Minister Mark Drakeford that the donations are not in breach of the Ministerial Code.

News of the donations, first revealed by Nation.Cymru last week, has outraged many members of the Labour Party in Wales, as well as people in the wider community.

Taxpayer investment

Two donations, each of £100k, were made by a Cardiff-based company called Dauson Environmental Group, whose director David Neal was given two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge on the Gwent Levels, a sensitive conservation landscape south east of Newport.

The area is of particular significance for the Welsh Government because in 2019 Mr Drakeford personally used his planning powers to reject a proposal to build the M4 relief road through the Gwent Levels on environmental grounds.

Dauson also has three financial charges against it from the Development Bank of Wales, which is owned by the Welsh Government. This means that Dauson is in receipt of taxpayer investment from a publicly owned bank for which Mr Gething, as the Economy Minister, is responsible.

Solar farm application

It has also emerged that Dauson has submitted a Development of National Significance planning application for a solar farm next to its recycling site in east Cardiff. A decision on whether to approve the scheme or not will be taken by Welsh ministers, leading to further concerns about how the group’s donations to Mr Gething’s campaign will be perceived.

According to a clause of the Ministerial Code, “Ministers should not accept any gift or hospitality which might, or might reasonably appear to, compromise their judgement or place them under an improper obligation.”

However, despite the view of a senior Welsh Labour source expressed to Nation.Cymru that Mr Gething had “not just broken the Ministerial Code but driven a coach and horses through it”, Mr Drakeford said the Code did not “govern the process for the receipt of donations to Senedd Members”.

Complaint

In view of that decision, information rights campaigner Jamie Roberts has now made a complaint to the Senedd’s Standards Commissioner, Douglas Bain.

In a letter to Mr Bain, Mr Roberts states: “I am writing to you regarding a matter that I believe warrants your immediate attention and thorough investigation.

“This concerns the recent revelations involving Vaughan Gething, MS for Cardiff South & Penarth and a candidate for the Welsh Labour leadership, who has received a significant sum in donations from Dauson Environmental, a company led by an individual previously convicted of environmental offences.

“The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has publicly stated that the Ministerial Code does not govern donations to Members of the Senedd, thus suggesting that any inquiry into such matters falls within the purview of your office.

“Given this clarification, I am urging your office to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the donations received by Mr Gething.

“Specifically, I am concerned about the possibility that these donations may have been made with the expectation of gaining Mr Gething’s support for a planning application by Dauson Environmental to build a solar farm in his constituency – a project that requires ministerial approval.

“The potential implications of such a transaction are deeply troubling, as they raise questions about the integrity and impartiality expected of our elected representatives.

“The Ministerial Code clearly states that ministers must avoid any conflict of interest between their public duties and private interests.

“While the First Minister has indicated that the receipt of donations by Senedd Members falls outside the scope of the Ministerial Code, it is imperative that your investigation also considers whether any actions taken, or to be taken, by Mr. Gething in his capacity as an MS in relation to Dauson Environmental’s planning application could constitute a breach of the standards expected of Senedd Members.

“In the interest of maintaining public trust in our democratic institutions, I ask that your investigation be thorough, transparent, and conducted with the utmost urgency.

“It is crucial that the public have confidence in the integrity of our political system and the individuals elected to represent our interests. Furthermore, I hope that your inquiry will examine the procedures and safeguards currently in place for the acceptance and declaration of donations to Senedd Members,

“It is essential to ensure that these processes are robust enough to prevent any potential conflicts of interest and maintain the high standards of conduct expected from our elected officials.

“I believe that an investigation by your office into this matter is not only necessary for upholding the principles of transparency and accountability but also crucial in safeguarding the public’s trust in the governance of Wales.

“The relationship between political donations and the actions of those in power must always withstand the highest levels of scrutiny.”

Response

When news of the donations emerged last week, a spokesperson for Mr Gething said: “Dauson Environmental Group Limited has made a donation to Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign. All donations are declared to both the Senedd and the Electoral Commission in line with the rules and Vaughan’s commitment to transparency.

“It’s a matter of public record that Welsh Government Ministers do not take decisions on individual investments or loans provided by the Development Bank of Wales.”

Rhondda Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant is a recent chair of the House of Commons Standards Committee and a frequent commentator on ethical matters relating to politicians.

As a strong supporter of Mr Gething’s, we asked Sir Chris for his view of the donations totalling £200k from a convicted criminal donated to his preferred candidate for the posts of Welsh Labour leader and First Minister. He did not respond to our message.


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Frank
Frank
1 month ago

I have not really trusted the Labour Party since Neil Kinnock lost an election that all seemed to be a certain win and immediately landed himself a £300k job as the European Commissioner.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

And then popped off to the Lords…

Randall
Randall
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

And his boy securing the safest seat possible, doesn’t even need to campaign come election time.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

In the interests of of the people of Wales Gething should withdraw from the leadership
contest. He is bringing the Senedd into even greater disrepute

Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

200k is an extremely large private donation to a political party in Wales. We are not in the City of London or the world of foreign oligarchs here. Butbit stinks just like the man’s businesses it seems!

Neilyn
Neilyn
1 month ago

If you give £200K to someone in power, and who could become even more powerful, you’re either paying for ‘favours’ already delivered, paying in advance for ‘favours’ to come, or just facilitating political corruption.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago

A win 🗳️ for VG who is certainly not without talent will say more about his party than him.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
1 month ago

C’mon Jezza Miles!

Wiwergoch
Wiwergoch
1 month ago

Money is power. VG shall remain silent and use it for his own gain. Career over Cymru.

TJ
TJ
1 month ago

Brown envelopes in open sight.

Wayne
Wayne
1 month ago

What are they going to get in return.????

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