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Paul Davies to remain Welsh Conservative leader as Senedd confirms ‘possible breach of regulations’

22 Jan 2021 4 minutes Read
Paul Davies. © Russell Hart/Alamy Live News.

Paul Davies is to remain Welsh Conservative leader after he allegedly broke Covid-19 lockdown rules.

The statement from the Welsh Conservatives staying he would stay in post arrived concurrantly with one from Senedd speaker Elin Jones saying that his actions possibly breached regulations.

She has referred the matter to Cardiff Council and the Standards Commissioner.

It is alleged that Paul Davies and other politicians drank alcohol on Welsh Parliament premises, days after the ban on serving drinks in pubs took effect.

Janet Finch-Saunders MS, Chair of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament, issued a statement saying Paul Davies would continue in the post of leader.

“The Welsh Conservative Group met today to discuss events involving three members of the Group on the 8th December,” she said. 

“The Group extended its unanimous support for Paul Davies to continue in his post as Leader of the Group.”

Minutes later Llywydd Elin Jones sent out her own statement on the matter:

“The Commission’s internal investigation has established that alcohol was consumed by five individuals in the Senedd’s licensed tearoom, four of whom are elected members.

“The investigation has concluded that a possible breach of regulations occurred and therefore the Chief Executive of the Senedd Commission has referred the matter to Cardiff Council.

“The Regulations in place at the time imposed strict restrictions on members of the public with regard to the consumption of alcohol.

“Given that the possible breach in question occurred as a result of the consumption of alcohol by Members of the Senedd, I have also written to the Standards Commissioner to ask him to investigate whether these Members acted in accordance with the duty in the Code of Conduct to conduct themselves in a manner which maintains and strengthens the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the Senedd.”

A Labour Senedd member, Alun Davies, has been suspended by his party and Paul Davies and another Conservative MS have apologised following the incident.

A ban on the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in licensed premises came into force at 6pm on 4 December, and the incident took place four days later, on 8 December, in Ty Hywel in Cardiff Bay that houses the Senedd’s offices.

 

‘Sorry’

Paul Davies, Darren Millar and Paul Smith released a statement at the time, saying: “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.  While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

Blaenau Gwent Labour Senedd member Alun Davies said: “I am very sorry if my actions have given the impression that I am in any way not committed to upholding the regulations which I have consistently supported throughout the last year.

“For context, the purpose of this meeting from my perspective was to seek to persuade the Welsh Conservatives to support my proposal for a ‘Welsh Hearts Bill’. This is part of my work across political parties on this issue.

“The Senedd Commission has already confirmed to me that I did not breach the Coronavirus regulations on the consumption of either food or alcohol that were in force at that time. I have also confirmed to the Commission that the regulations on the number of people present and on social distancing were not breached either. I look forward to the Commission’s final conclusions on this matter.”

A solicitor for Conservative Nick Ramsay declared his client ‘sat on his own’ and ‘had a chicken curry’.

He said: “Mr Ramsay did attend the Tea Room on his own at the Senedd, without invitation after work.

“He sat on his own and was socially distanced. He attended the Tea Room at approximately 6pm. He had a chicken curry.

“He left at about 8pm. Others came in whilst he was there but it was not a “gathering” Mr. Ramsay was part of.”

The Senedd Commission said: “We are aware of an incident on the Senedd estate last month which may have been contrary to public health regulations in force at the time.

“The Senedd Commission takes the public health regulations in Wales very seriously and is currently investigating the matter in order to establish an accurate account of what took place and to determine whether action may be required.”

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