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‘Politics is expensive’ – First Minister defends controversial donation during scrutiny meeting

26 Apr 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething – Image Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

Vaughan Gething has rounded on his critics and denied any wrong doing over his controversial campaign donation during his first scrutiny of the First Minister committee meeting.

The committee met on Friday (April 26) to focus on Mr Gething’s specific portfolio responsibilities and his leadership role for the Welsh Government.

The issue of the £200,000 donation he had accepted from a convicted polluter during his campaign to be Welsh Labour leader showed no signs of going away.

Plaid Cymru MS Llŷr Gruffydd raised concerns about the integrity and judgement of Wales’ new First Minister.

He asked Mr Gething whether he thought it was right to accept the huge donation from David Neal of Dauson Environmental Group – a man who had been twice convicted for environmental offences.

Dauson Environmental Group are also £400,000 in debt to the Development Bank of Wales – a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government.

The loan was awarded to the company when Mr Gething was the Economy Minister.


Responding, the First Minister said “politics is expensive” and that raising money for party campaigns can be a “challenge”.

He added that questions about his integrity were not same as “disagreements about how to fund politics today”.

Opposition leaders have called for an independent inquiry into the donation whilst Labour politicians, including members of Mr Gething’s own Cabinet, have criticised his decision to take the money.

Further pressing the First Minster, Mr Gruffydd said: “Surely on reflection you must have an element of regret that you took that money.”

Mr Gething said that although he understood why some people wanted to talk about the issue “again and again”, he needed to get on with his job and focus on priorities “for families and the future of Wales”.

Mr Gruffydd said the First Minister had a “blind spot” when it came his judgement on the donation despite many people believing it was the “wrong call”.

Mr Gething replied: “The question about the Ministerial code is a wide spread misunderstanding. The former First Minister looked at whether the donation breached the code, his clear view was, having taken advice, they don’t.

“The danger here is me saying look, there’s been no breach of any of the rules, there’s not been a breach of the code – but you still want to carry on having a conversation demanding, ‘well there must be’, have an investigation and find that there must be a breach somewhere.

“Well there’s no breach in relation to DBW, there no breach in relation to the code, and simply because other people want to say, ‘well there must be’ – that doesn’t mean that there is a perception of breach, that’s actually about your conduct.

“There are no questions about my integrity that are real or legitimate. I have been honest throughout this about what I have done and why.

“If you want to say there are questions about my integrity – you need to set out what those are rather than you and other people disagreeing with how you fund politics today outside of asking the public, and I don’t think there’s any appetite for that.”

Tory MS James Evans said “the jury’s out” on whether the First Minister is the right person for the job.

Mr Gething said it was a “real honour” to lead his country and party.

He said: “Not everyone gets through a leadership contest, and there were coronation processes rather than contests in other parties, that isn’t a point of criticism. It doesn’t mean you undermine the legitimacy of the person who is doing that job.

“That’s entirely appropriate for people in their own party following their own rules and that’s how it is.”

Both Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Conservative have tabled debates on the campaign donation in the Senedd next week.

Plaid Cymru’s motion calls for a cap on future political donations.

The Welsh Conservative motion calls for the First Minister to appoint an independent advisor to investigate any conflict of interests that may exist in relation to the donation.

Speaking after the Committee, Jame Evans said: ”

James Evans MS said: “The jury’s still out at the minute on whether Vaughan Gething is the best person to lead the Welsh Government and represent the people of Wales.

“The issue over his campaign expenses is not going to go away and I look forward to the debate in the Senedd next week where hopefully he will be able to provide some more answers on the donations he has received.”

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Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

Wow, the arrogance!!!

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

And can’t say I’m surprised by it either.

1 month ago

Vaughan Gething – your public relations during COVID were very impressive and persuasive and won a lot of people over.

Unfortunately, you’ve seriously miscalculated this 200k – you’ve seriously damaged your reputation.

robin campbell
robin campbell
1 month ago

expensive business, politics. to even it up, sort of make it fair-ish, shouldn’t Jeremy Miles have been given £200,000 as well? Obviously wouldn’t have mattered if that was from a criminal’s bank account, either.

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