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Plaid Cymru call for register of lobbyists as Green Man row rumbles on

20 Aug 2022 3 minute read
Green Man Festival. Photo by reds on tour is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Plaid Cymru has called for a register of lobbyists in Wales and questioned the Welsh Government’s attitude to “transparency” following a probe into an “informal” meeting between government ministers, a prominent lobbyist, and the director of the Green Man Festival.

In May it was confirmed that the Government had bought a £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.

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

Special treatment

Plaid Cymru’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: “No other event or organisation has been awarded this kind of special treatment by the Labour Government where they are permitted to draft a business case in retrospect after receiving public money from government.

“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.”

Ms Stewart said she was surprised at the political fallout from the deal, adding “some of the things that have been said, I didn’t quite understand there would be a reaction in that way – especially because we have been around for such a long time,” comments described as “naive, misguided and misjudged” by Plaid Cymru.

Jeremy Miles’ denied the social gathering was a misjudgement and said “I wouldn’t expect as education minister to have any role in the decision making around a farm in any case, but should that arise in the future, then as you will have seen from the first minister’s statement, both myself and the minister for climate change will not take part in it.”

Misplaced

Responding to the minister’s response, Mr ap Gwynfor added: “Mr Miles’ comments are also misplaced. He and his fellow Minister, Julie James, 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 or portfolio involvement is not defence.

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

“We urgently need a register of lobbyists in Wales and much greater and clearer transparency on the nature of lobbying in Wales.”


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David
David
1 month ago

An U turn, or depends who calls for list of lobbyists!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Absolutely, Julie’s deputy needs to account for his relationship with interested parties…

Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
1 month ago

We cannot allow the same kind of “lobbying”, snidey deals done over lunch and “I’ll scratch your back…” shadiness that has corrupted and eaten what little democracy there was in Westminster to begin infesting Cymru. Ministers are NOT private citizens, they are not people who can just hang out with a bunch of wealthy associates and “new friends” that run businesses. Those kinds of things are forfeited because the person in question is dealing with and representing the public trust, money and interest. Even under the most innocent of circumstances if Minister A has dinner with Business Person B it… Read more »

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago

Frankly defies belief there would have been no mention whatsoever of the green man festival at a dinner attended by the festival organiser herself. But a register of lobbyists in Wales is certainly long overdue and it’s disappointing that the Senedd is playing catch up even with Westminster on adopting one. Its frankly unacceptable that at present govt ministers in Wales can visit leading lobbyists in their own homes and not even have to declare it! Only reason we know bout this is because of a tip off to a prominent welsh journalist

Last edited 1 month ago by Leigh Richards
Cai Wogan Jones
Cai Wogan Jones
1 month ago

Introduction of a register of lobbyists was one of Neil McEvoy’s enduring causes. Along with the dumping of nuclear contaminated mud in Cardiff Bay.

He was if course ignored and sidelined by Lab and PC whenever he raised these issues.

Testament to the small minded personalities based nature of Welsh politics. Always the man (or woman) rather than the ball.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago

Plaid has spent far too long ignoring the harsh truth about the nature of lobbyists and one firm in particular. Was that because there was an ex- Plaid A.M in that firm ? What other relationships had been cultivated beyond the point of objectivity ? Cosy lunches, invitations to address conferences etc etc when a sharper, more inquisitive critical stance was needed. So at last they muster the nerve to seek change but as far as much of the electorate are concerned by now they see Plaid leadership as complicit in this pattern of devious and corrupt behaviour.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

There needs to be an in-depth public debate on the new MO of Welsh Gov. PLC’s and the Economy Minister’s relationship with companies like Cwmni Egino, which now boasts a Cathays Park civil servant on its board of directors together with long standing Nuclear Industry executives…

Let us not forget the revolving door principal favoured by Tony Blair and the Tories and the on-going Labour monopoly on deciding the direction of travel for the future of Wales…

Does Wales want to continue with a Nuclear Power future, have we been asked or does the Prif Athro always know best?

Wrexhamian
Wrexhamian
1 month ago

Deryn again…

Robert Griffiths
Robert Griffiths
1 month ago

I’m amazed there isn’t a “Register of lobbyists” already! Surely it has to happen.

defaid
defaid
1 month ago

Not sure which of a dozen or more Green Man Festivals the article is referring to but I once went to the one in Clun.

Green Man festivals are meant to be a big bit of sympathetic magic, moving the seasons onward by mimicking the upward urge of spring driving out the old winter.

Bearing this in mind, when I got to Clun, I was more than a tad disappointed to find the festival had been cancelled… due to bad weather.

Talk about giving up before you’ve even started.

Last edited 1 month ago by defaid
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  defaid

Clun! The mist must have lifted for long enough to see the rain…beguiling Beguildy. There was a pub where Clapton played with the late, great Ronnie Lane up on the tops where the late artist Richard Akerman used to throw a Christmas Party, often in the snow in those days. Damned if I can remember the name, lovely part of the world…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

The Drum and Monkey…

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