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Was Welsh Government loan money used to donate £200k to Vaughan Gething?

20 Apr 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Vaughan Gething speaking in the Senedd

Martin Shipton

Companies run by a convicted criminal that bankrolled Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign owe £400,000 to a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government, newly published accounts filed at Companies House have revealed.

This has raised concerns that Mr Gething’s successful campaign may have effectively been financed by money borrowed from the Welsh Government.

The Welsh political world was rocked when Nation.Cymru reported in February how Dauson Environmental Group Ltd had donated a total of £200,000 to the Cardiff South and Penarth MS – a sum way in excess of previous donations to Welsh politicians.

Dauson and its subsidiary companies, including Atlantic Recycling Ltd, are owned by businessman David Neal, who has received two suspended jail sentences for illegally dumping toxic sludge at the Gwent Levels, a sensitive wetlands landscape with a protected status to the south east of Newport.

Financial support

Mr Gething narrowly defeated Jeremy Miles in the contest to succeed Mark Drakeford as party leader, a victory that made his election as First Minister inevitable.

Many take the view that he could not have won without the considerable financial support provided to him by Dauson. It is understood that a significant share of the money was used to pay individuals to make campaign phone calls to party members from a phone bank in the run-up to the leadership election.

Entries on the Electoral Commission’s register of political donations show that Dauson Environmental Group, based in Mr Gething’s constituency, donated £100k to his campaign on December 18 2023 and a further £100k on January 11 2024. Both donations were registered with the Commission on February 7 2024.

A business researcher who does not wish to be named contacted Nation.Cymru and told us: “Companies House records show that money was lent to Atlantic Recycling and Dauson Environmental Group by the Development Bank of Wales (DBW) during the period when Vaughan Gething, in his previous role as Economy Minister, was the minister responsible for DBW. The Welsh Government owns 100% of DBW’s shares.

“The 2022/23 accounts just filed show that a £400k bank debt was raised during that year, which accords with DBW taking charges over Dauson and Atlantic on February 28 2023. So it’s probably DBW who lent the money.

“If this company needed to borrow £400k, how was it in a position to lend £200k as a political donation to the Minister responsible for DBW? The implication is that money lent by DBW to the group may effectively have ended up being donated to Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign.”

Furthermore, an additional charge on the assets of Atlantic Recycling was granted to HSBC on February 28 2024.

Urgent investigation

Welsh Conservative Senedd Member Laura Anne Jones, who represents South Wales East, which includes the Gwent Levels, said: “It is extremely concerning to discover that the company in receipt of funding from DBW was then subsequently able to make a political donation amounting to £200,000 to the Minister who was responsible for overseeing DBW.

“There are many questions that need answering and I believe the matter warrants further investigation urgently.”

A spokesman for the Welsh Government would only say: “Welsh ministers do not take decisions on individual investments provided by DBW.”

A spokesperson for Dauson Environmental Group said: “As a growing Welsh business, Dauson Environmental Group is committed to investing in the operation and development of all our sites, as well as in the Welsh supply chain.

“This includes working with the Development Bank of Wales to support this economic growth. We can reassure you that none of the loans received contributed to the donations made by Dauson Environmental Group.”

Both former First Minister Mark Drakeford and Douglas Bain, the Senedd’s Standards Commissioner, concluded earlier that Mr Gething had not broken the Senedd Members’ Code of Conduct.

The Welsh Government has refused to release details of the legal advice given to Mr Drakeford before he announced that Mr Gething had not breached the code, saying it would breach the confidentiality of the advice to do so.


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
1 month ago

Another example of the misuse of confidentiality to possibly conceal unsatisfactory behaviour even if it turns out not to be unlawful. If Mr Gething has any shred of decency he ought to resign. It seems these sort of things are going to happen in the devolved governments. It looks as if the First Minister in Scotland used government money to in effect pay a ransom to obtain the release of his relatives from Gaza.

Martyn Young
Martyn Young
1 month ago

Based on what evidence? In the post on X, it was claimed that this took place after Scotland paid “£750m to Hamas”, the militant group in control of the Gaza strip. This is completely false.

Martyn Young
Martyn Young
1 month ago

In the devolved governments? Shall we talk about the mafia gang running Westminster at the moment?There is no evidence of the Scottish First Minister doing what you suggest. Gething and his conduct is quite another matter and needs a thorough investigation.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
1 month ago

This is scandalous, smells of corruption

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

Clear concern that there is a direct conflict of interest. This should be investigated. I’m not sure I trust Welsh Labour to see to it correctly.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

What is it with both Labour and the Conservative party when it comes to sleaze and financial impropriety. I thought devolution meant better governance than that den of iniquity Westminster. Soon that shambolic Tory idiocracy in Westminster currently in its money haemorrhaging far-right deaththrows will be put out of its misery by the electorate. Call it political chemotherapy. Using a poison (UK Labour) to beat a cancer (Conservatives). But Wales also desperately needs a spring clean of Labour from its stagnated system too. Hopefully in 2026 this can be realised, but sadly seeing Welsh society and politics has been dumbed… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago

Only need to look at the post office scandal to see how governments behave when they don’t want the population to to know what is going on, labour in wales is no different, just don’t vote for them, it would be safer to vote for the monster raving looney party, for a better wales.

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago
Reply to  Why vote

Don’t forget Grenfell, Windrush and the contaminated blood scandal none of these have been fully settled. The Waspi women is another case where people are being let down by Westminster. Just like the Postmasters and postmistress, people are dying before being paid what they are owed by the London government.

Dewi Evans
Dewi Evans
1 month ago

Why on earth my party. Is still in an “agreement” with this lot is beyond belief. Not yet at the level of the Tories. Not yet. I despair.

Richard E
Richard E
1 month ago
Reply to  Dewi Evans

A clear green line Dewi – needed now 🗳️

Rich
Rich
1 month ago

“ Drain the Swmp “ opps wrong Election !?🗳️

Ap Kenneth
1 month ago

Why did Gething need to pay people to make campaign calls on his behalf? Was his campaign not full of enthusiastic followers willing to go that extra mile on his behalf?

Why vote
Why vote
1 month ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Who exactly were these teams of helpers talking to or lobbying to use so much money. It was all in house and closed to the public. Other politicians who he could talk to in the senedd no need to ring them just turn around, and the trade unions?????????

Yuri Nator
Yuri Nator
1 month ago
Reply to  Ap Kenneth

Bear in mind he lost to Drakeford last time around… I don’t think he’s an especially popular bloke amongst the people who voted for him. Certainly didn’t need £251,000 (isn’t this the latest after the separate £51k donation was reported) for a “campaign” with a very small number of eligible electors though! More to the point too, as the quoted business researcher in this article has noted, if Dauson Environmental owes the Welsh Gov owned Bank £400,000 but was able to give £200,000 to Vaughan, doesn’t this suggest Welsh Government funds aka taxpayer funds have been used to fund a… Read more »

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