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Plaid Cymru calls for independent probe into First Minister’s £200k election campaign donation

21 Apr 2024 5 minute read
Rhun ap Iorwerth and Vaughan Gething

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth is pushing for an independent investigation into donations totalling £200k to Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign.

Mr ap Iorwerth has today (21 April) written to the Welsh Government’s Permanent Secretary, Andrew Goodall, raising serious concerns about the transparency and propriety of donations to the First Minister’s campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party in Wales.

Entries on the Electoral Commission’s register of political donations show that Dauson Environmental Group, based in Mr Gething’s constituency, donated £100k to his campaign on December 18 2023 and a further £100k on January 11 2024. Both donations were registered with the Commission on February 7 2024.

The main director of Dauson and its subsidiary companies, including Atlantic Recycling Ltd, is David Neal, who has received two suspended prison sentences for illegally dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels, a sensitive wetlands landscape near Newport.

The new intervention from the leader of Plaid Cymru follows Nation.Cymru’s revelation on Saturday (20 April) that companies run by Mr Neal, owe £400,000 to a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government, according to newly published accounts.

This has raised concerns that Mr Gething’s successful campaign may have effectively been financed by money borrowed from the Welsh Government.

Advice

Mr ap Iorwerth’s letter follows a refusal by previous First Minister Mark Drakeford to disclose advice received regarding a complaint against Vaughan Gething under the Ministerial Code.

The Plaid leader says the controversy around the donations now “strikes at the heart of government operations” and the relationship between Ministers and private individuals.

Despite the First Minister being the ultimate arbiter of the Ministerial Code, Mr ap Iorwerth says it would be “totally unacceptable for the First Minister to act as judge and jury on his own behaviour” and therefore has asked the Permanent Secretary to commission a “wholly independent external investigation”.

He also asked Mr Goodall to make findings of an eventual investigation public in their entirety.

Serious questions

The letter penned by Mr ap Iorwerth says: “I write in relation to the ongoing and serious unanswered questions surrounding donations to the First Minister’s campaign to become the leader of the Labour party in Wales.

“Before stepping down as First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS refused to publish the advice he received in relation to a complaint against Vaughan Gething under the Ministerial Code. Mr Drakeford also said that the Ministerial Code does not govern the process for the receipt of donations to Senedd members.

“You will be aware however of reports over the weekend that Dauson Environmental Group Ltd, who donated £200,000 to Vaughan Gething’s campaign, are in debt to the Development Bank of Wales – a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government.

“It is clear that this matter has now gone beyond donations to Senedd Members. It strikes at the heart of government operations, and the relationship between Ministers and private individuals.

“I have little confidence that Mr Gething will investigate his own behaviour under the Ministerial Code, specifically 1.3

“Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests;

“Ministers should not accept any gift or hospitality which might, or might reasonably appear to, compromise their judgement or place them under an improper obligation;

“Whilst the Code says that it is not the role of the Permanent Secretary or other officials to enforce the Code, I believe this is a matter of the utmost seriousness and one where it would be totally unacceptable for the First Minister to act as judge and jury on his own behaviour.

“I therefore ask that you commission a wholly independent external investigation into this matter, and for its findings to be made public in their entirety.”

Companies House

Nation.Cymru was told by a business researcher who does not wish to be named: “Companies House records show that money was lent to Atlantic Recycling and Dauson Environmental Group by the Development Bank of Wales (DBW) during the period when Vaughan Gething, in his previous role as Economy Minister, was the minister responsible for DBW. The Welsh Government owns 100% of DBW’s shares.

“The 2022/23 accounts just filed show that a £400k bank debt was raised during that year, which accords with DBW taking charges over Dauson and Atlantic on February 28 2023. So it’s probably DBW who lent the money.

“If this company needed to borrow £400k, how was it in a position to lend £200k as a political donation to the Minister responsible for DBW? The implication is that money lent by DBW to the group may effectively have ended up being donated to Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign.”

Furthermore, an additional charge on the assets of Atlantic Recycling was granted to HSBC on February 28 2024.

A spokesman for Dauson Environmental Group said: “As a growing Welsh business, Dauson Environmental Group is committed to investing in the operation and development of all our sites, as well as in the Welsh supply chain.

“This includes working with the Development Bank of Wales to support this economic growth. We can reassure you that none of the loans received contributed to the donations made by Dauson Environmental Group.”


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Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

So with regards to the latest information, Plaid’s standpoint would be that if a company that has been provided with a loan or grant by a council run by Plaid then provides funds to Plaid in any shape or form at a later date, the leader of the Plaid council from which any funds came, even if they had no knowledge of the funds being provided by a council body would have to resign?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

I’m not sure it’s quite that simple. This saga involves criminal prosecutions, approaches to the regulator and donations which appear (to me at least) to be out of proportion. An inquiry seems a reasonable request (or demand) given the circumstances and the depth of feeling. I don’t think anyone is calling for a resignation (yet).

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

What are you on about criminal prososicutions? What will the enquiry be about?

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

The person who donated the £200k to mr gething has received two suspended custodial sentences.

Mr Andrew John Teague
Mr Andrew John Teague
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

Would most likely do so.

Do you remember Adam Price saying similarly and putting forward, when he was an MP, a bill to ensure that Mps TOLD THE TRUTH.

NOT Grayham Jones
NOT Grayham Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Llyn

I agree Llyn and this sort of thing needs to be outlawed as it is open to abuse on all sides

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Welsh labour, rotten to the core. The £200k belongs to the people of Wales and my vote is what’s left of it should now go to a suitable environmental charity (Gwent Wildlife Trust?)and WG better make sure the money owed to the bank is paid back in full (I wonder how long that might take!?) Power corrupts, myn uffern i!

Beau Brummie
Beau Brummie
1 month ago

Teflon Gething – Blair Reborn

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

This whole saga smacks of corruption. Sickening. Wales will never amount to anything with such people in charge. Gething should resign in my opinion

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