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Vaughan Gething quizzed on campaign donation during FMQs

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

Emily Price

Vaughan Gething has come under fire in the Senedd as pressure mounts over the controversial £200,000 donation he accepted while campaigning to be Welsh Labour leader.

Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth and Leader of the Welsh Conservative Senedd group, Andrew RT Davies both pressed Mr Gething on his decision to accept the donation from a company owned by a convicted polluter.

Further revelations uncovered by Nation.Cymru at the weekend found that the Development Bank of Wales – which is owned by the Welsh Government – had loaned the company £400,000.

The loan was given to Neal Soil Suppliers – a subsidiary of the Dauson Environmental Group which donated to the former Economy Minister – in 2023 to help purchase a solar farm.

David Neal, who owns Dauson, has twice been convicted of environmental offences.

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

The First Minister says donations to his campaign were declared and that no rules have been broken.

Mr Gething’s competitor in the race for First Minister, Jeremy Miles, admitted on Sunday that he would not have taken the money.

‘Principled’

During First Minister’s Questions on Tuesday (23 April), Andrew RT Davies asked why Mr Miles’ judgement on accepting political donations was more “principled” than Mr Gething’s.

Mr Gething said he had been clear that all donations had been registered and recorded appropriately.

He added that an internal review would take place to look at leadership campaigns – including campaign finances.

The investigation will be carried out by former First Minister Carwyn Jones.

The Welsh Tory Leader said the issue was having a “corrosive effect” on the Welsh Government.

Both he and Plaid Cymru’s leader made calls for an independent investigation.

The First Minister said there is no reason for an independent investigation to be carried out.

He said: “Lets go back to the facts. The donations have been declared for both leadership campaigns. When it comes to support provided by the Development Bank for Wales, they made an investment choice with a commercial loan more than a year ago.

“And that has gone into the purchase of an individual asset and repayments are being made in line with the terms of that loan.

“All of those loan and equity investments to businesses in Wales are made independent of the Welsh Government by the Development Bank.

“Those are the facts. There is no reason to undertake an investigation when the facts are so clear and unambiguous.”

Polluter

Rhun ap Iorwerth said that despite it being only a month since the new First Minister came into office, the same questions were not going away.

He asked Mr Gething whether the donation was accepted with the knowledge that it was from a convicted polluter or if any due-diligence was carried out.

The First Minister again said the donation had been properly declared.

He added that he was “comfortable” that the Development Bank could run its business without ministerial interference.

Rhun ap Iorwerth said the First Minister shouldn’t be deflecting the issue onto the Development Bank of Wales.

He said: “We’re not questioning the integrity of the Development Bank of Wales; we’re questioning his integrity. The ministerial code is clear:

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

“Private interest, in this case, would be a leadership contest for the Labour Party.

“Ministers should not accept any gift or hospitality which might, or might reasonably appear to compromise their judgement.

“Now, I believe that threshold has been reached, and it’s why I wrote to the Permanent Secretary, asking for a full independent inquiry and for the findings to be made public.

“Now, given the public, I think, would have little confidence in the First Minister himself acting as judge and jury in his own case, would he agree on the need for an inquiry to be independent?

Mr Gething said his focus for priorities was families struggling to pay their bills at the end of each month.

The Plaid Cymru leader responded saying struggling families can’t understand why this First Minister is “so flippant about a gift of £200,000”.

Mr Gething said: “I think it is important that my party undertakes a process after the leadership contest, to learn lessons and to move forward.

“It’ll be a decision for the Welsh executive committee, when it receives the report, about what it publishes; I have no doubt at all that it will be in the public domain. In the meantime, and even after that, I look forward to the challenges and the opportunities that this year presents.”


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Annibendod
Annibendod
28 days ago

He’s refusing an independent inquiry, claiming that there is no conflict of interest. The man accused of a conflict of interest gets to decide and decides there is no conflict of interest so no.

Sheesh, you couldn’t make this up. The man needs to go. Sort it out Labour, you’re dragging our Senedd into disrepute.

Llyn
Llyn
28 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

What conflict of interest do you think might have happened?

Alan Jones
Alan Jones
28 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

I would say Martin Shipton & Nation.Cymru have put the facts relating to this matter & the reasons why it causes a conflict of interest clearly & consistently over the last few weeks.

Annibendod
Annibendod
28 days ago
Reply to  Alan Jones

Da iawn Alan. Spot on. Will Hayward has also written wrt this matter.

Llyn
Llyn
28 days ago
Reply to  Alan Jones

So somebody else says there’s a conflict of interest but you can’t say what it is? For the record I don’t think he should have taken the money but I’m not sure there’s a proven conflict of interest.

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

 “but I’m not sure there’s a proven conflict of interest.”

Well that’s what an investigation would hopefully clear up one way or another.
The starting point for an investigation being that a conflict of interest between public duties and private interests appears to have arisen.

Annibendod
Annibendod
28 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Where have you been these last few months?

hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Rumoured to have spent a lot of time washing behind his/her ears…. after dragging his/her head out of Gething’s arse ! No doubt he/she can elaborate when it suits him/her to do so.

..David. Jones
..David. Jones
28 days ago

if he has nothing to hide surely he would agree to in an inquiry, so that he can get on with what he was elected to do. His refusal speaks volumes.

Llyn
Llyn
28 days ago
Reply to  ..David. Jones

What do you think he’s hiding?

Paddy
Paddy
28 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

Gething isn’t hiding anything. He has unapologetically taken money from a criminal and brazenly lobbied for said criminal.

Llyn
Llyn
28 days ago
Reply to  Paddy

So nobody or no company with a criminal record should be able to give money to a political party?

CapM
CapM
28 days ago
Reply to  Llyn

It’s the person or company’s choice whether to donate or not and it’s the politician or party’s choice whether to accept the donation or not.

tedski
tedski
28 days ago

I watched this encounter on Senedd.tv and the FM V Gething just kept harping on about the loan paid to Neal Soil by the Welsh Development Bank. I would have thought the question to be answered was about the amount paid into his campaign fund and by whom. I would like to think Mr Gething would have the courage of his conscience to reply in full or leave the position he holds at the moment, the labour party is first to shout sleaze and corruption when the party in power at Westminster makes a mistake, I follow no political party… Read more »

Why vote
Why vote
28 days ago

He has skin thicker than a rhinos and in total denial, how much money is required to run an FM campaign in wales, paying teams to phone who? Sending out election literature to whom what was it spent on??? This us not a good look for democracy in wales.

hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago
Reply to  Why vote

He has skin thicker than a rhinos…. most rhinos will look on with envy. “Look at that hide” says a big bull rhino.

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