Sun story wrong says Senedd standards commissioner as he clears members who drank alcohol during lockdown
Four Senedd members who drank wine in a tearoom during lockdown during a Wales-wide alcohol ban did not break any rules, and reporting in the Sun was incorrect, an independent report has found.
The Sun had claimed that the politicians involved were “legless,” had ignored social distancing and had been asked to leave by security staff at 2am. The Sun later amended its article.
The Senedd’s standards commissioner, Douglas Bain, found the event to have been a rather more staid affair, saying that reports that the politicians were “loud and raucous” were made “without any factual foundation”.
“Had the conduct of the Members been as alleged by the Sun I would have had no hesitation in finding that they had breached the Principle,” he said.
“Whilst some have been critical of the conduct of the Members I cannot be satisfied, having considered all the circumstances in context, that any of them contravened the Integrity Principle of the Code of Conduct or any other relevant provision on 8 or 9 December 2020.”
Paul Davies, Darren Millar, Nick Ramsay and Alun Davies were investigated by the standards commissioner who found that they were unaware the rules meant they were not allowed to be served in the Senedd.
Paul Davies resigned as Welsh Conservative Senedd leader following the controversy that took place while the Welsh Government ha banned alcohol in pubs and restaurants in late 2020.
The commissioner said that while the regulations actually meant that it “may” have become unlawful for alcohol to have been sold but “it did not become unlawful to consume alcohol there”.
The commissioner concluded: “Whether or not conduct breaches the Integrity Principle is subjective and a matter on which individuals considering the same facts may genuinely reach different conclusions.
“Acting in a manner that will tend to undermine the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the Senedd or which would tend to bring the institution or its Members generally into disrepute is a very grave matter.
“The fact that what the Members did in the Tea Room was legal and that they were unaware that as a result of the new regulations the supplying to them of alcohol might be illegal, whilst highly relevant, is not conclusive.
“In deciding whether conduct is so bad that it can properly be said to breach the Principle it is necessary to consider the conduct in context and especially the restrictions that had been imposed on all people in Wales due to the pandemic.”
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