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Vaughan Gething grilled on controversial £200k donation during first FMQs session

16 Apr 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething

Emily Price

Vaughan Gething has suffered an uncomfortable first FMQs session in the Senedd where he was grilled on the controversial donation he accepted during his election campaign.

In a first head to head between the new First Minister and the leader of the Senedd Tories, Andrew RT Davies, Mr Gething was pressed to give assurances that money doesn’t buy influence within his government.

Mr Davies was referencing the signifiant donation made to the First Minister’s election campaign totally £200,000 from a company run by a man twice convicted for environmental offences.

In 2016, Mr Gething asked Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to ease restrictions on Atlantic Recycling – a firm run by convicted polluter David John Neal.

Mr Neal received two suspended prison sentences for illegally dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels – a sensitive wetlands landscape near Newport.

Atlantic Recycling was also fined £300,000 in February following the death of one of its workers, after it pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work rules.

Earlier this year, Nation.Cymru revealed Atlantic Recycling’s holding company had donated £200,000 to Mr Gething’s successful campaign to replace Mark Drakeford as leader.

The money from Mr Neil represents the highest political donation made to a Welsh politician since there became a legal obligation to declare them.

Calls were made for Mr Gething to return the donation but the incoming First Minister said no rules had been broken.

Money

On Tuesday (April 16), Welsh Tory leader, Andrew RT Davies asked the new First Minister if all of the £200,000 donation was spent on his campaign – or if any remaining funds had been handed over to the Labour Party.

Mr Gething told the Chamber the accounts had yet to be filed.

Speaking during FMQs, he said: “The rules require that, in this internal Welsh Labour contest, all donations are declared and both campaigns would need to file their accounts at the end, and if there is any money left over, that would then go to Welsh Labour as a political donation.

“Once the accounts are filed, I’ve no doubt there will be continuing interest, and I look forward to being clear about that. I need to finish off the accounts for all the donations I received, of varying amounts.”

In another question, the leader of the Tories in the Senedd asked what measures were in place to ensure there is no perception that money can buy a seat at the Cabinet table.

He said: “In Welsh political terms, that is a huge donation that you received during your leadership campaign.

“You weren’t successful in securing more than just a third of the Labour group here in the bay to back your leadership bid, but you were successful in making sure that a local businessman contributed nearly a quarter of a million to your leadership campaign.

“What measures have you put in place now that you are First Minister to make sure that there is not the continuing perception that money can buy influence within your Government and a seat at the Cabinet table?”

The First Minister replied: “I’m very clear that I cannot and will not make any kind of ministerial choice within my constituency, as I have done throughout my time as a Minister—for example, Celsa steelworks.

“In fact, I’ve been scrupulous in policing the divide between constituency and ministerial interests, and I have sent back submissions that have, on limited occasions, erroneously come to me with constituency interests in them.

“You can expect that from all members of my Government. I only wish the same could be said for other administrations within the United Kingdom.”


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David C
David C
1 month ago

The National Museum should take note if it wants some help from him! Fund his next campaign if you want that new roof folks!

A Evans
A Evans
1 month ago

Slippery as an eel, Von Gethinberg wriggles to avoid closer scrutiny. THE ultimate test of corruption will be the go ahead for his criminal benefactor to build a Solar Farm on the Newport Wetlands……an area that Drakeford wouldn’t allow the M4 relief road to go through because it would disturb the wildlife!

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