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Gething insists sacked minister was behind leak to the media

10 Jul 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething

The First Minister has insisted it was “clear” that a sacked government minister was behind a message leaked to the media, despite her emphatic denials.

Hannah Blythyn was removed from the Welsh Labour government by Vaughan Gething in May, following messages from the Covid pandemic being leaked to Nation.Cymru.

Ms Blythyn broke her silence about her dismissal in the Senedd on Tuesday, using a personal statement to insist she was innocent, and that she could “look all my colleagues who sit on these benches in the eye” and say she had not leaked to the media.

The embattled First Minister told the Senedd on Wednesday the messages could only have come from the former minister’s phone, adding that there had been a “breach of trust”.

Donations

Mr Gething has come under sustained attack in recent months for his decision to sack Ms Blythyn and over a series of rows concerning donations he took while running to be Welsh Labour leader.

This led to the collapse of a co-operation agreement between his party and Plaid Cymru and he subsequently lost a non-binding vote of no-confidence in the Senedd.

Addressing the Senedd on Wednesday, he said: “It is, of course, vital for the function of government that ministers have trust in each other at all times, and that private discussions remain private.

“For these messages to be provided to a journalist is a breach of that trust.”

He added: “Having cross-checked the photograph with a full set of messages, it became clear that the photograph could only have been of one member’s phone.”

‘Evidence’

Mr Gething added that he would “rather not go through this detail in public” but said he had spoken to the member of May 16 setting out his analysis and insisted “I had evidence to support the decision.”

Sitting behind Mr Gething, Ms Blythyn could be seen shaking her head as the First Minister spoke.

The First Minister is now facing a second vote of no-confidence in the Senedd next week, with the Conservatives hoping to “compel” him to publish the evidence he used to sack Ms Blythyn.

Mr Gething lost the previous vote in June in part because Ms Blythyn and another Labour MS, Lee Waters, were not present.

Speaking in the Senedd on Tuesday, Ms Blythyn said she had “formally raised concerns” about the process by which she was removed from government.

She said she was not shown any evidence before her sacking, nor was she made aware she was under investigation.

Ms Blythyn led a guarded attack on the First Minister, saying a proper process needs to be in place to ensure the “integrity of the Civil Service and the office of the First Minister” and said she had enjoyed her time in government under Mr Gething’s predecessor, Mark Drakeford.

The First Minister’s decision to sack Ms Blythyn followed a report on Nation.Cymru which featured a message posted to a ministerial group chat in August 2020 by Mr Gething, stating that he was “deleting the messages in this group”.

He said the leaked message was from a section of an iMessage group chat with other Labour ministers and related to internal discussions within the Senedd Labour group.

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

He denied the leaked message contradicted the evidence he had given to the inquiry, adding that it did not relate to pandemic decision-making but “comments that colleagues make to and about each other”.

The First Minister has not shown any evidence for Ms Blythyn’s sacking.

At the time of her dismissal, Ms Blythyn strongly denied leaking anything and said she was “deeply shocked” at her dismissal and said she was “clear and have been clear that I did not, nor have I ever leaked anything”.


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Howie
Howie
3 days ago

I trust the full set of messages is referring to will be provided to the COVID inquiry now he has stated he has access to them.

It is quite common for politicians phones to be operated by members of staff, there have been previous cases of staff leaking items on phones one recently.

Is Gething now hedging his bets not the member but the phone, if so not as definitive has first stated by him.

Show the evidence be judged on that.

Rich John
Rich John
3 days ago

I’m not saying one of them is lying, but one of them is factually incorrect. If Vaughan Gething has clear evidence then Ms Blethyn can’t also be right. But my suspicion is that Gething has some very weak circumstantial evidence that he *thinks* makes Ms Blethyn the only source of the leak, and he’s overstating how clear this evidence is. He’s realised he’s painted himself into a corner, not just with the donation but also with this sacking, and he’s just running the Boris/Trump play of just trying to carry on and brazen it out as if nothing’s happened and… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
3 days ago
Reply to  Rich John

Gething is the black, Welsh version of Boris Johnson, but on steroids.

CapM
CapM
3 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

What the hell has the colour of Gethin’s or for that matter Johnson’s skin got to do with it.
Also the “but on Steroids” comment is unrealistic. Did you miss out on Johnson’s antics over the years.

Jen Raynor
Jen Raynor
3 days ago

Perhaps Hannah should check who has access to her phone?

Why vote
Why vote
3 days ago

He is supposed to be a solicitor so there should be no requirement to explain to him what evidence is, show some real evidence don’t hide behind some secret book.

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
3 days ago

Did VG delete his messages yes or no? If he didn’t then what’s the problem? If he did and he told the inquiry that he didn’t then he is lying. It’s about time this bloke grew up and started behaving like a leader. Everything he is involved in appears to be enveloped in some sort of seediness. This man is supposed to be leading the government and making decisions that affect lots of people but instead he is making a pigs ear of the job. If he was a real leader and an Honourable man he would realise and step… Read more »

John Ellis
John Ellis
3 days ago

If Mr Gething thinks that Hannah Blythyn is indeed the source of the leak, it seems to me that he needs to reveal quite a deal more of his evidence for that conviction than he’s publicly offered thus far. But I acknowledge that I do have a bias against him, in that it strikes me as quite extraordinary that he was willing to accept an unprecedentedly large financial contribution to his campaign fund from such a questionable source. And I think that Welsh Labour’s refusal to accept the money left unspent to boost their party’s coffers suggests that, even if… Read more »

SundanceKid
SundanceKid
3 days ago

Vote them all out.

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