Plaid Cymru calls for suspension of Senedd members for alleged Covid lockdown breach
Plaid Cymru has called for the suspension of Senedd members for allegedly breaking Covid-19 lockdown rules.
The party’s Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth demanded an investigation following allegations a group of politicians drank alcohol on Welsh Parliament premises, days after the ban on serving drinks in pubs took effect.
It is alleged that Conservative Senedd leader Paul Davies, Darren Millar and Nick Ramsay were drinking together in early December, and it is understood that Labour Senedd member Alun Davies was involved.
A spokesperson for the Senedd Labour Group said that the member had been suspended from the group while an investigation takes place.
The three Conservatives involved, have issued a statement and apologised for their actions but have insisted they did not break the rules.
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.
Mr ap Iorwerth said: “You might have heard this story today. I, like you am very, very disappointed. All four members should be suspended by their parties as this is investigated. Unacceptable if true. Law-makers should know better.
“The Senedd as an institution has set very high standards in its response to the pandemic. Its members should, too.”
Plaid Cymru Llyr Gruffydd MS added: “If this is true it seems Tories and Labour politicians have been indulging in a lock-in while the public are locked down. This is incredibly serious and nothing but an immediate suspension of the whip pending a thorough investigation will suffice.”
Eluned Morgan, the Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh language, has called for the three Tory MSs involved to be suspended by their party.
She said: “I have written to @WelshConserv this evening to call on them to take appropriate action and suspend those involved whilst investigations continue into this alleged incident.”
Paul Davies, Darren Millar and Paul Smith said: “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.”
A spokesperson for the Senedd Labour Group also said that the member had been suspended from the group while an investigation takes place.
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.”
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.”
It is believed that the incident took place following a plenary meeting on December 8.