Support our Nation today - please donate here
News

Welsh Government in turmoil as Minister is sacked for allegedly leaking deleted message sent by Gething

16 May 2024 5 minute read
Vaughan Gething . Photo James Manning/PA Wire

Martin Shipton

First Minister Vaughan Gething has sacked Social Partnership Minister Hannah Blythyn, accusing her of being the source of the leak to NationCymru that revealed he had deleted messages that should have been provided to the UK Covid Inquiry.

A statement issued by the Welsh Government quoted Mr Gething saying:: “Having reviewed the evidence available to me regarding the recent disclosure of communication to the media, I have regrettably reached the conclusion I have no alternative but to ask Hannah Blythyn to leave the Government.

“I’d like to record my gratitude for the work the Member has done to date, including her leadership through the fire and rescue services review, outstanding work leading the LGBTQ+ Action Plan for Wales and invaluable work on the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act.

“It is of vital importance we are able to maintain confidence amongst Government colleagues so that we work as one to focus on improving the lives of the people in Wales.

“Given Hannah’s talents and experience, I have been clear there is a route back for her to take up a government position again in future.

“The Government has offered ongoing support to the Member.”

FOI

Last week Nation.Cymru revealed that on August 17 2020, Mr Gething wrote to colleagues on a ministerial group chat stating: “I’m deleting the messages in this group. They can be captured in an FOI [freedom of information request] and I think we are all in the right place on the choice being made.”

Our disclosure that Mr Gething had deleted the messages indicated strongly that he had misled the UK Covid Inquiry. He had given both written and oral evidence to the Inquiry under oath in which he claimed messages had been deleted from his mobile phone during a refit by the Senedd’s IT department. He went on to express both regret and embarrassment that he was unable to provide them. At no stage did Mr Gething admit that he had deleted messages because he considered they would be subject to freedom of information disclosure.

The UK Covid Inquiry asked all the governments of the UK to disclose to it all material they held relevant to the making of decisions during the Covid Inquiry. In the run-up to the publication of our May 7 story, the Welsh Government suggested to us that the messages could have been related to “anything”, but NationCymru was confident that the messages related to both the Welsh Government and to the handling of the Covid crisis.

Statement

Previously a statement issued to the users of Welsh Government mobile phones in February 2019 had made it clear that messages written on mobile phones could be regarded as Welsh Government business and should be preserved.

The statement said: “Text and Instant Messaging Text or `instant messages’ are electronic mail and messaging systems used for the purposes of communication between individuals. Staff should be aware that when using their WG phones in this way they are in fact creating ‘public records’. Staff using private phones for WG business may also be creating public records. The ephemeral nature of text messages (and instant messaging) heightens the need for users to be aware that they may be creating records using this application, and to properly manage and preserve record content.”

Mr Gething knew full well that conversations in the Labour group were not subject to FOI disclosure, nor were messages in the ministerial chat that related to individual Members of the Senedd. Only Welsh Government business was liable for disclosure, and therefore “the messages in this group” referred to in Mr Gething’s deletion message constituted Welsh Government business.

“They related to the decision – or “choice” as Mr Gething put it – to change the way students were assessed for GCSEs and A-levels. One of the other messages in the screenshot leaked to us had a minister – not Mr Gething – referring facetiously to an algorithm. It so happened that on the very same day that Mr Gething signalled his intention to delete messages, the Welsh Government announced that GCSE and A-level grades would be awarded on the basis of teachers’ assessment of students rather than being determined by an algorithm.

Welsh Government business 

Clearly, then, the matter under discussion, and the “choice” referred to by Mr Gething in his message, was both Welsh Government business and Covid related. The reason, of course, for choosing a new means of assessing students’ exam grades was because their education had been interrupted during lockdown.

Equally, as a lawyer and a minister of some years’ standing, Mr Gething knew that to be captured in an FOI, the messages had to relate to Welsh Government business.

A Welsh Labour source told us: “The government led by Vaughan Gething is in turmoil. He has sacked a minister accusing her of putting information in the public domain that should have been in the public domain anyway.

“Since NationCymru’s revelation he decided to hand over the relevant screenshot with the incriminating message to the Covid Inquiry. That is an admission that he should have passed the messages over to the Inquiry in the first place. If anyone should be leaving the government, it is not Hannah Blythyn, but Vaughan Gething himself.”

NationCymru does not reveal its sources of information, but has no doubt it did the right thing in revealing the truth about the deleted messages.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
21 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
20 hours ago

Mr Gething again demonstrates his lack of fitness for office. In addition he is a threat to Labour’s aspirations in the UK in the forthcoming General Election. He should resign.

Mozart
Mozart
12 hours ago

Too late to resign. He’s taken and spent the bung already. His financial supporters will want a return on their investment first

Anne chilton
Anne chilton
11 hours ago

Always use your initiative never trust anyone full of liars

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
20 hours ago

RT goes a lot softer on Gething than he did on Mark Drakeford which sets my alarm bells ringing and I hate to admit he’s almost right FOR ONCE in that there could be a change of First Minister before the end of the year BUT we can’t wait that long. The half year is up on June 30th. He needs to be gone by then and must be replaced by someone who rattles RT enough to go squealing to GBeebies. That’s when we’ll know we have the right First Minister in place.

Frank
Frank
19 hours ago

The list of negatives against the FM grow by the day. He is not high on the list of people I could trust let alone trust to govern Cymru. The sooner he goes the better before more revelations against him come to light. He is so thick-skinned he does not realise he is embarrassing himself let alone committing personal political suicide.

Erisian
Erisian
17 hours ago
Reply to  Frank

No, thin-skined and tone deaf.

GCJ
GCJ
19 hours ago

VG’s judgment is seriously questionable. With all that is going on around him this is a serious miscalculation! When you’re in a hole the best advice is to stop digging!

Gareth
Gareth
18 hours ago

Not for the first time, it would appear that London’s choice to lead the Senedd, is not working out for Cymru. Time to go I think Mr G. Is this another wakeup call for Labour here, to become the autonomous party seperate from UK Labour, that Cymru needs, as it was very clear during the recent leadership contest where the orders were coming from.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
18 hours ago
Reply to  Gareth

This is reminiscent of the initial Alun Michael, Blair Labour imposition giving way to Rhodri Morgan. History repeating itself, no learning. I hope for the same result. The way Gething got in, and being silently suited to a potential incoming Starmer, stinks here. The learning Westminster Labour need to engage in is that the Labour we vote for here is not the same as them. I do expect this to have been grasped the first time around but if we must repeat ourselves to punch the point home then so be it. There will be clear red water and Starmer… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
16 hours ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Yes, it was the Alun Michael period I was refering to. Will Labour here learn, I do hope so, but judging by past performances, and the attitude Labour MP’s from Cymru, who controll Labour in Cymru display, ie, not opposing HS2 being a Eng/Wal project, against devolving justice and policing , I wonder to which capital city the are loyal Caerdydd or London.I think Labour voters here should now look to a party that has the interests of Cymru at heart.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
28 minutes ago
Reply to  Gareth

Yes, I should have started my reply acknowledging your reference to that period as I knew that’s what you meant instead of it looking like I thought of it first. Sorry about that but I got the drift.

Wiwergoch
Wiwergoch
18 hours ago

Thankfully VG isn’t savvy enough to keep his own job, let alone sack other people. Time to call a vote of no confidence.

G. Williams
G. Williams
17 hours ago

Andrew R. T. Davies and Rhun ap Iorwerth must be praying that Vaughan Gething, somehow, clings on to his post until 2026. For Gething, personality-wise unsuited to his post, too close to dubious friends, and seemingly mendacious, is potentially their greatest asset in the run-up to the next Senedd election. I doubt, however, if their prayers will be answered: the sacking of Hannah Blythin is surely the beginning of the endgame. 

Jon Coles
Jon Coles
17 hours ago
Reply to  G. Williams

He’s doing the opposition’s job for it.
They’d be mad to try and get rid of him.

Annibendod
Annibendod
15 hours ago
Reply to  G. Williams

Only trouble is that he brings the Senedd into disrepute. This only serves the self-loathing anti-Welsh hate brigade.

Erisian
Erisian
17 hours ago

Apparently t’s not important that his administration has the support of the public.
A very Trumpian move.
Time for Gethin to go.

Jon Coles
Jon Coles
17 hours ago

As the statement announcing the sacking came from the Welsh Government, the evidence used originated within the Welsh Government. It follows that the information upon which Vaughan Gething relied to dismiss Hannah Blythyn is information held by the Welsh Government and is potentially subject to the same Freedom of Information Act the First Minister tried to circumvent.
Let’s see the evidence.

Why vote
Why vote
16 hours ago

Exactly what is he trying to hide, this action by VG only highlights how ill prepared for government VG is you don’t sack someone for something you have done it only highlights what is being hidden, since his promotion to first minister he has made wales and the senedd a laughing stock around the world from London to India (that was a jolly) his perception of how to be the big I am must be stopped and soon.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
14 hours ago
Reply to  Why vote

I would think he sacked her due to a breach of loyalty to him as FM, rather than on substance of what she leaked. The fact that he has acted duplicitously in the whole affair seems lost on him. While I understand wanting the support of his ministers, he should hold himself to a higher standard.

Gary H
Gary H
14 hours ago

Gething, just go. Whatever our party alliegence, we expect to be able to respect the FM while disagreeing with him. I wouldn’t trust this man to clean up after his dog, let alone act honourably in public.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
11 hours ago

Gething has revealed his true Tory colours, they’ve always got their noses in the trough, snuffling about looking for some filthy lucre.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.