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Welsh Government Cabinet Minutes ‘doctored’ to remove false statement by Vaughan Gething

05 Mar 2024 6 minute read
Leighton Andrews. Picture by the National Assembly. (CC BY 2.0)

A former Welsh Government Minister has produced evidence that minutes of a Cabinet meeting were doctored to remove an untrue statement made by Vaughan Gething as the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in the UK.

The intervention by former Education and Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews casts further doubts on the suitability of Mr Gething to become Welsh Labour leader and First Minister, and coincides with a final push by senior party figures aimed at ensuring he does not win the leadership contest against Jeremy Miles.

The internal party election has been mired with revelations about union stitch-ups aimed at favouring Mr Gething and the news that he accepted donations totalling £200,000 from a company whose main director received two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels, a protected wetlands landscape to the south east of Newport.

Professor Andrews, who since leaving politics has become an academic at Cardiff University, made a series of posts to X that showed how a crucial Cabinet minute had been altered,

UK Covid Inquiry

Earlier this week the UK Covid Inquiry was told that Mr Gething, as Health Minister at the time, had wrongly informed a Welsh Government Cabinet meeting in February 2020 that there had been no Covid cases in the UK.

It has now emerged that the official minutes of the Cabinet meeting published by the Welsh Government contain a version that removed mention of Mr Gething’s false statement.

The original minute revealed at the UK Covid Inquiry read: “The Minister for Health and Social Services provided Cabinet with an update on the coronavirus virus (Covid-19). The Minister was issuing weekly written statements to Senedd Members and the chief medical officer was also providing regular updates for the public and had issued guidance to those who may develop symptoms after returning from abroad.

“Travel advice had recently been updated to reflect the increase in cases in a number of countries including Italy. Furthermore the Public Health Wales website was being updated on a daily basis.

“The worldwide response was still in the containment stage, and there had been no imported cases into the UK. The risk assessment for the UK was currently moderate, but this would change should there be a sustained transmission in Europe or in any country that had close connections with the UK and or the failure of certain countries to reduce the spread of the virus.”

However, the altered version of the minute published by the Welsh Government omitted the crucial phrase “and there had been no imported cases into the UK”, reading: “The Minister for Health and Social Services provided Cabinet with an update on the coronavirus virus (Covid-19). The Minister was issuing weekly written statements to Senedd Members and the chief medical officer was also providing regular updates for the public and had issued guidance to those who may develop symptoms after returning from abroad.

“Travel advice had recently been updated to reflect the increase in cases in a number of countries including Italy. Furthermore the Public Health Wales website was being updated on a daily basis.

“The worldwide response was still in the containment stage, and risk assessment for the UK was currently moderate, but this would change should there be a sustained transmission in Europe or in any country that had close connections with the UK and or the failure of certain countries to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Mr Andrews posted a thread to X, formerly Twitter, that pointed out the change. He stated: “It looks like the Covid Inquiry has draft minutes, presumably circulated by the Welsh Government Cabinet Secretariat after the meeting. Minutes of course can be corrected following the meeting and before publication. It would be interesting to know what requests were made for correction.”

We asked the Welsh Government for a statement explaining what had happened. A spokesman for the Welsh Government would only say: “As you know, we are not commenting on matters relating to the inquiry whilst the hearings are underway in Wales.”

Fear

Meanwhile senior Welsh Labour figures have spoken to Nation.Cymru expressing their fear of the consequences for the party if Mr Gething emerges as the winner of the leadership contest when the result is declared on March 16

Sources close to both campaign teams have suggested that Mr Gething, currently the Economy Minister, is leading Mr Miles, the Education Minister because of the support he is getting from union affiliate members, who greatly outnumber ordinary party members.

While Labour is thought to have around 16,000 members in Wales, there are more than 100,000 affiliated members via their trade unions and other societies affiliated to the party. Because Mr Gething has been nominated by the so-called “Big Six” trade unions, his campaign team has access to union members in a way Mr Miles does not.

One senior Welsh Labour figure, who supports Mr Miles, told us: “The revelation about the huge donations to Vaughan Gething from a convicted polluter came a few days after voting began. Usually, people who are going to vote do so very soon after the ballot opens or they don’t vote at all.

“We are doing everything we can to encourage people who haven’t voted to vote for Jeremy Miles. At present the team think Jeremy is on about 55% of the vote with party members, but his lead is overhauled when the affiliate vote is taken into account. If Vaughan Gething wins, he will be tainted from the outset, as will be the party and devolution. There will be attacks from all sides.”

Appalled

Another senior Labour figure said: “Privately, it is believed that Mark [Drakeford] will be appalled by these revelations, but he has decided to keep out of the contest, not wanting to appear partisan. There is a lot of anger and frustration at what has come out. Many of us fear that the progressive politics we have been championing will be seriously damaged, with people not seeing Vaughan Gething as a legitimate leader.

“All we can do is try to get as many people to vote for Jeremy Miles in the time left. If Vaughan Gething is elected, we will all be expected to rally round and show unity – something that will be very difficult and unconvincing.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

Neither are fit to be First Minister !

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

That may be so, but one of them has to win. Better the very clever and humble Miles, than the narcissist Gething.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yes, but neither have to be First Minister, there are 58 others worse than them !

Check the rules…

Mabon comes across as an honest man with a healthy liking for his trade…

They will not point this out, you have to think and reason for your selves…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Who is Mabon?

If you mean Mabon ap Gwynfor, unfortunately he’d have to be the leader of the largest party first.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

No you have it wrong!

The first minister is chosen from who ever is put forward by the Senedd out of the 60 MS’s…

The ignorance of the voter is the friend of dodgy politicians…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Gareth

He is supposed to be a political champion not a vicar…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Into the valley of Welsh politics rode the gallant 60, on to the guns of tradition, it has always been a closed shop and just when we thought we were getting somewhere, just like Brexit. Cymru was buzzing until the very last minute then the Portcullis dropped, and now Rhun has shattered this dream of freedom… Even more reason to look Mabon in the eye (who Grandfather’s party I was canvassing for with a satchel full of flyers at the age of seven,) in Blaenau in May but I won’t know if it is him I’m voting for… I thought… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

“If Vaughan Gething is elected, we will all be expected to rally round and show unity – something that will be very difficult and unconvincing.”

They could of course resign their membership. If their values and politics align with Plaid’s I’m sure that they may find a new home where the focus is on building Cymru’s democracy.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Career politicians are too scared to align with Plaid

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Is that why Plaid have joined forces with Welsh Labour to stitch us up…they are all careerists…a few have some conviction and integrity…not solicitor politicians though…

HarrisR
HarrisR
1 month ago

It’s not just Welsh Labour that is now hitting the iceberg, it’s Devolution itself. The news tonight that Plaid, despite everything, has rolled over to support closed lists destroys any pretence of opposition they had. Both joined at the careers.

“And the band played on” as the plates come apart.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  HarrisR

They can’t help themselves…shame !

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  HarrisR

And MD is pleading the fifth, that coffee has a strong aroma…

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  HarrisR

Of all the comments made, this is the strongest and most important.
Many contributors here and in response to other articles, have called upon readers to support Plaid Cymru.
Plaid Cymru is Labour mark two, blindly supporting a party – many of whose members are at best indifferent about devolution if not against and certainly do not support independence – instead of providing opposition and building the case for stronger powers and independence.
Each day it becomes more irrelevant.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

I’m a member of Plaid, I couldn’t agree more John, Plaid are meek and ineffectual.

CapM
CapM
1 month ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

If Plaid didn’t go along with how far Labour is willing to go with this then the we don’t get any change in the system and the Tory’s and anti-devolutionists get their way. There seems to be an unwillingness by some to take an improvement – more Senedd members and the opportunity for a fairer reflection of the electorate’s choice of representatives in the Senedd. It looks like toys being thrown out of prams. Petulance for not getting what they want by some For others a denial of reality – a supermajority (2/3s) is needed for change. Good luck with… Read more »

Mandi A
Mandi A
1 month ago

The unproven but “nice” and according to the Wales Online interview, indecisive Mr Miles is receiving substantial help from nation.cymru. Are you part of some Beaverbrook / Murdoch style lobby or are you a news service? Welsh self-government seems to be rapidly imploding. Much like the rifts in the SNP, this only furthers the Westminster anti-devolution agenda.

FrankC
FrankC
1 month ago
Reply to  Mandi A

So NationCymru is at fault for reporting on Mr Gething’s wrongdoing? What a bizarre take that is. I think we can all guess where you are coming from?

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
1 month ago

Many of us fear that the progressive politics we have been championing will be seriously damaged’

Presumably, they want Gething elected because he’s black? And, by extension, not Miles, because he’s white?

How about wanting the best person for the job elected, regardless of skin colour? It baffles and terrifies me that such wrong-think can become normalised so easily.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Any one of the 60 can be First Minister, it is up to the Senedd. If they, as a body choose to con the voter then that is an example of a corrupt system…as they have demonstrated with closed lists…Wake up and learn the rules…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

What are you talking about ! Utter BS..

Rob jones
Rob jones
1 month ago

Nor surprising Gethin lies every time he opens his mouth

Jen
Jen
1 month ago

Any alteration of the distributed draft Cabinet minutes would have required the consent of the Cabinet. We are seeing a lot of it was not me! But yes I was there

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago
Reply to  Jen

Can someone explain to the deaf, dumb and blind on here that the First Minister is chosen by the Senedd of the Senedd, it is only a two horse race because either no one else has the courage or it is a set up among the Senedd…Lets choose nice but dim (also lacking in backbone), mark my words…but that is an asset to the rest to manipulate at any time…

Last edited 1 month ago by Mab Meirion

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