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‘Look in the mirror’ – FMQs row as Gething deflects criticism following TV doc

25 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Left: First Minister Vaughan Gething – R: Leader of the Welsh Tories Andrew RT Davies

Emily Price

First Minister Vaughan Gething has been told to “look in the mirror” after comparing the Tory betting scandal with revelations made by Channel 4 regarding his controversial campaign donor.

The major TV investigation which aired on Friday (June 21) revealed that the convicted polluter whose company donated £200k to Mr Gething is under suspicion for potential tax evasion.

It was also alleged that another of businessman David Neal’s firms has been wrongly characterising the waste it has been dumping at a Pembrokeshire landfill site.

The collection of such a tax was devolved to Wales in 2018 and the Landfill Disposals Tax was introduced as a means to raise revenue for public services.

The Channel 4 Dispatches programme explained the difference between the tax payable for dumping inert waste in landfill sites – around £3 per tonne – from other kinds of waste, where the tax is more than £100 per tonne.

Scandal

Questions about the embattled First Minister’s integrity were initially raised at FMQs on Tuesday (June 25) by Conservative MS Natasha Asghar.

But Mr Gething deflected the issue to the Conservative Party’s withdrawal of support for General Election candidates Craig Williams and Laura Saunders, who are being looked into for alleged election betting.

The First Minister of Wales said that a footballer would be banned from the game if they placed a bet in the way Conservative candidates have been accused of doing.

Leader of the Tories in the Senedd Andrew RT Davies also raised the Dispatches documentary and the ongoing issue of the stinking Pembrokeshire landfill site linked to the First Minister’s donor.

Data from Public Health Wales has shown that the noxious fumes emanating there are above the World Health Organisation (WHO) odour annoyance guidelines.

The eggy stench has left locals “on all fours throwing their guts up” for more than six months.

Sick

Speaking in the Senedd, Mr Davies said: “Can you imagine that, First Minister? Waking up in the morning in your own home and the stench from outside is so great that you are physically sick, and yet you can’t see no end to that, so you go through it the next day and the next day and the next day.”

The Welsh Tory Leader asked the First Minister to confirm the timeline of the urgent review which was ordered into the environmental regulator’s actions after the documentary was aired.

Mr Gething said the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs had sought assurances through a senior official on the past and present actions taken by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

He added that assurances had also be sought by the Welsh Government over whether “appropriate items are going to landfill”.

The First Minister said: “The revenue authority have a legal duty of confidentiality, they cannot tell us who they are investigating or not.”

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives pushed back on Mr Gething’s answers asking why with such “blatant evidence of avoidance” the Welsh Government hadn’t done anything until the programme aired.

Raising the Tory betting scandal for a second time, Mr Gething said: “You would do well to look to yourself and a range of issues within your own party”.

Shouting broke out in the Chamber from opposition benches whilst Mr Davies could be seen on Senedd cameras looking aghast whilst calling out: “You need to look in the mirror. This was on your watch!”

After the Presiding Officer Elin Jones intervened to call for calm, the First Minister concluded the exchange saying regulators “need to act without fear or favour ” on the evidence available to them.

He added: “You have to respect the fact that the revenue authority are not in a position – and nor should they be – to share information with the Government about any investigation that they’re undertaking. They need to undertake that action, as indeed do NRW when it comes to their own responsibilities.”

Mr Gething maintains that donations to his campaign to become Welsh Labour Leader were all within the rules.

Former First Minister Carwyn Jones will lead a review into Labour campaign donation rules.


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Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
19 days ago

Oh dear, Vaughan Gething’s excuse seems to be don’t just blame me, everyone’s at it!
What ever happened to personnel integrity?

Geraint
Geraint
19 days ago

If everything was within the rules why does the Labour party not want to accept the unspent £30,000?

John Ellis
John Ellis
19 days ago
Reply to  Geraint

Distancing themselves because they tacitly accept that the current situation’s simply untenable in the longer term, but Welsh Labour’s traditional tribal solidarity keeps them quiet about it?

And I suspect – always assuming that it’s true – that the persistent rumour that Mr Gething wasn’t the preferred choice of his party in the Senedd might also be a factor. Jeremy Corbyn’s lack of support among his Westminster parliamentary party was a major factor in undermining his leadership position.

Dafydd Huw
Dafydd Huw
19 days ago

Two rotten eggs with loyalty facing east

Gary H
Gary H
19 days ago

Two scoundrels shouting at each other. How very dignified. Thak goodness for Rhun ap Iorwerth and even Jane Dodds. They can conduct themselves with dignity and honesty. Gething’s antics only deflect attention from the unspeakable Welsh Conservatives. Please,decent Labour members of the Senedd (and I’m sure there are some), chuck Gething out -and the Tories would be better off without Andrew R T as well, should any of them be listening.

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
19 days ago

Neither side is squeaky clean. Politics in general needs cleaning up, we’ve had so many lies, scandals and dodgy dealings from all parties over the last few years. Enough is enough. We vote for an honest democracy not this shambles.

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
19 days ago

Years ago I can recall a wise mentor telling me that “Rules are for the bling obedience of fools and for the guidance of wise men”. I’m not sure what he would have to say about the calibre of politicians today but I have a rough idea.

Howie
Howie
19 days ago

The Labour party has returned a donation of £100k given to Starmer by a candidate mixed up in betting on election and withdrawn support for him, although it seems no law broken, so why is Gething still not given donation back when it is a natter of record that the donor was convicted previously.

Old Curmudgeon
Old Curmudgeon
19 days ago
Reply to  Howie

Could it be because Gething is not up to the job and doesn’t know how to behave?

Joe Davies
Joe Davies
12 days ago

He’s an absolute fraud….….and labour won’t survive if he stays at the helm! 😪

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