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Ministers recuse themselves from decisions over Green Man farm purchase after social event with festival boss

12 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Green Man festival

Ministers who met with the owner of the Green Man festival at the home of her lobbyist will now recuse themselves from any future decision-making about a farm near the festival site.

The Welsh Government had bought the £4.25m farm seven miles from the festival’s site in Powys to help the festival develop its business.

But it was later revealed by WalesOnline that Climate Change Minister Julie James and Education Minister Jeremy Miles had met with the owner of the Green Man festival at the home of her lobbyist.

In a statement today, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that this meeting had been a “social event” in a “personal capacity”. He added that no breach of the Ministerial Code had taken place.

However, he added that “in view of the risk of perceived conflict, both Ministers have recused themselves from any future decisions”.

He was reacting to a report written by the Welsh Government’s director of propriety and ethics.

The report said that the meeting between the ministers, Green Man festival owner Fiona Stewart and lobbyist Cathy Owens of Deryn Consulting in May was a purely social occasion. It did not include a discussion about the purchase of Gilestone Farm, the report said.

‘Guidance’

In a statement, Mark Drakeford said: “Members may be aware of media reporting relating to a social event attended by the Minister for Climate Change and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language in a personal capacity in May of this year.

“Given the reported attendance of the chief executive of the Green Man Festival at the event, and the recent purchase of Gilestone Farm, I asked the Welsh Government’s Permanent Secretary to provide me with a report on the circumstances.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, the advice concludes that no breach of the Ministerial Code had taken place and that neither Minister had exercised any decision making in relation to the purchase of Gilestone Farm.

“Whilst neither Minister is anticipated to be a decision maker in relation to Gilestone Farm, in view of the risk of perceived conflict, both Ministers have recused themselves from any future decisions.

“The advice recommends that Ministers are provided with guidance for contacts with lobbyists that occurs in their non-Ministerial capacity. I will write to Ministers to provide this guidance.”

Whitewash

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs Spokesperson, who had expressed concerns about the meeting last week, said: “This is nothing but a whitewash.

“The facts remain that a furtive meeting was held between government ministers and the owner of the Green Man Festival who was at that time in the middle of drawing up a business plan to justify government spending on her business, at the home of the Green Man Festival’s lobbyist, who happened to also be a former Government special advisor.

“It was held at a crucial time, when the Green Man Festival was having to draw up a business plan to justify £4.25m of taxpayers’ money being spent on Gilestone farm for the Festival, and when we were asking difficult questions in the Senedd.

“They are asking us to believe that the issue wasn’t discussed at all.

“Forgive me for my cynicism, but this pushes the realms of credibility to the extreme.

“Ministers have demonstrated extremely poor judgement and left themselves in a compromising position. Governments make decisions by collective responsibility, the fact that they had no direct ministerial involvement is not defence.

“This episode casts serious doubt on the inner workings of the Welsh Government and its attitude to transparency.

“The Director of Propriety and Ethics has identified serious shortcoming in the rules that govern the relationship between Ministers and lobbyists.

“Without a significant tightening of the rules Ministers will continue to have carte blanche to meet who they like when they like without anyone knowing about it.”


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29 Comments
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Gareth Westacott
Gareth Westacott
1 month ago

This absolutely stinks!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

I can’t believe Lee Waters wasn’t there. he does like to be linked-in…just as well somebody is keeping score…well done WalesOnline and Mabon, that could have been embarrassing if it had been raised in the Telegraph. Nothing is ever just social when senior politicians are present, such cases of ‘poor judgement’ must be avoided at all costs…

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

I think the initial investigation was prompted by the blogger Jacothe north, who seems to be able to “discover” irregularities that others especially the Bay regime and its lackeys prefer to ignore. He is much disliked by Plaid for catching them out too often although Mabon is one of those who seems to have an independent, inquisitive streak that will serve well his constituents and the rest of Wales. Big thumbs up too to Shipton which shows that when he gets moving there’s still a lot of energy left in his tank.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Diolch hd Jacothe north!…Mabon does seem to plough his own course…

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Do people really treat Jac o the North as a credible source? Amazing!

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Lot more thorough in searching for facts than you, old bean. Of course repeating hysterical junk is a lot easier for you as it doesn’t place much demand on your scarce grey cell resource.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

What’s crawled up YOUR rectum and died? Oh wait! YOU’RE not Jac-off are you? He’s a spiteful drama queen too!

Last edited 1 month ago by One of the two witnesses
Gaynor
Gaynor
1 month ago

He is, he does his research, unlike a lot of very well paid BBC ‘journalists’. Not seen one libel case or defamation case against him yet.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago
Reply to  Gaynor

No I’m sorry I’ve just revisited his site in case I was judging him harshly based on the far right nonsense I previously dismissed him for. Maybe he does a bit of “research” (seemingly limited to Googling the Companies House website. But from his rants about “lefties” and character assassination of Joe Biden as the worst president there has ever been (IMMEDIATELY after Trump no less). Biden is useless, but Trump is possibly the worst PRIMATE of all time. And Jaci’s slavish repetition of the usual conspiracies (including Qanon) I have to say the only reason he’s not been sued… Read more »

Glen
Glen
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Mabon will probably end up like Neil McEvoy, Plaid only want yes men who don’t rock the devolution boat.

Last edited 1 month ago by Glen
hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Glen

If the cranky wing of the Party ever set out to isolate or confine Mabon they will trigger a huge reaction. It would make the McEvoy scandal look like a minor blip on their landscape. Makes me chuckle just thinking about it. Could do some good having a bit of turbulence. After all this Deryn mob are a bit above themselves and anybody sucking up to them needs taking down whether they are Labour, Plaid or anything else.

David
David
1 month ago

Corruption!

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Disappointed and surprised the report hasnt recommended Wales adopts a lobbyist register. This is a glaring omission in how the Senedd operates compared to holyrood and even Westminster

Last edited 1 month ago by Leigh Richards
hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

Shocking idea ! There are people in Cardiff Bay who think that covert lobbying is the most effective way of filling their coffers and those of their clients !

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Indeed ‘H’ and it’s so disappointing. We are better than this in Wales.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

The old ways are the best, not so old, recently reintroduced under another name, closed lists…

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

It’s called recycling, or upcycling even. Very green approach to political activity and so much easier than actually having any regard for the needs of our communities.

Glen
Glen
1 month ago

“For the avoidance of any doubt, the advice concludes that no breach of the Ministerial Code had taken place and that neither Minister had exercised any decision making in relation to the purchase of Gilestone Farm.

Does anyone believe this?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Glen

Like I believe in fairies at the end of the bypass…Lee Waters run deep…

A B
A B
1 month ago

Business wasnt discussed, but its clear why these types of meetings happen. Its to build relationships so that when business does need to be discussed it can happen more freely.

One of the two witnesses
One of the two witnesses
1 month ago

If the Senedd bought “Gilestone” Farm, can they now give it a proper Welsh name?

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

What’s proper Welsh for Fferm y Backhander ? There again something like that is more appropriate as all it’s doing is shipping in a bit of supremacist Anglo Brit culture which they think is so much better than our native offerings.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Green Man and Nuclear Power, two ends to the same government…or 5 members of the ruling class have their wish come true…

I think we need to talk about the future, our future…

Non Davies
Non Davies
1 month ago

‘for the avoidance of any doubt’ this response creates even more doubt about the integrity of WG. What happened to the maxim that justice not only has to be done but has to be seen to be done?

and for the avoidance of any further doubts about my doubts, I wasn’t born yesterday!

Non Davies
Non Davies
1 month ago

we have concerns about the impact of ‘connections’ on the development of the Future Wales Plan 2040 which affords industrial turbine developers ‘presumed consent’ (they tell me) to place 250 metre high turbines within 700 metres of home across Wales – Rishi and Kwasi have assured their electorate this will not happen in England. WG and the Energy Minister are refusing to speak to us about our concerns, lest it prejudice any future planning decisions. Open and transparent? Fair and equitable? Hen Dro Sâl

Non Davies
Non Davies
1 month ago

Energy Minister has consistently refused to meet with us to discuss concerns about the Future Wales Plan ’40 affording energy companies ‘presumed consent’ (they tell me) to place 250m high turbines within 700m of homes across Wales.We will now send an invitation to a social event

Keith Parry
Keith Parry
1 month ago

James should be sacked now.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Parry

The deputy has to go too if only for his social event where nothing was also discussed, and Mr ‘smiles’ Miles…

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Parry

Should she be sacked in the sack she often wears or should she be given a fresh sack to mark the occasion ?

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