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Welsh Liberal Democrats call for whip to be suspended from Conservative MS

14 Jun 2024 4 minute read
Laura Anne Jones MS

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling for the whip to be removed from Shadow Culture Minister Laura Anne Jones for allegedly falsifying expenses claims.

Last months, Nation.Cymru revealed the South Wales East MS was under investigation by South Wales Police and the Senedd’s Standards Commissioner.

Officers were called in to investigate after messages came to light that appeared to show she had instructed one of her staff to claim mileage expenses for journeys she had not taken.

Yesterday (13 June) BBC Wales published details of text messages which appear to show her asking an employee to maximise her expenses claims.

A solicitor on her behalf told BBC Wales: “Ms Jones is satisfied that any allegations in relation to impropriety surrounding expenses are entirely misconceived”.

The Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd said: “We will not be commenting while this matter is being considered by the relevant authorities.”

Complaint

A senior Welsh Conservative source told Nation.Cymru that prior to police involvement, a complaint had been put in to the Senedd’s Standards Commissioner relating to a staffer working for Ms Jones who was dismissed after allegedly raising bullying allegations against another member of the Tories’ Senedd staff.

We were told that the Commissioner was forced to pause his probe when a message sent by Ms Jones came to light in which she instructed her staffer to falsify an expenses claim for mileage.

A Tory source said: “Essentially she told her staffer to make it up.”

Trust

Commenting on the latest revelations, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said: “At a time when trust in politics is at an all-time low, the allegations facing MS Jones are extremely serious, Andrew RT Davies must suspend the whip while an investigation takes place.

A failure to do so would only reinforce the idea that the Welsh Conservatives do not take these sorts of investigations seriously, especially given their weak leadership in failing to suspend the Conservative candidate Craig Williams as a candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr while he is under active investigation by the Gambling Commission.”

Ms Jones has continued in her role as Shadow Minister for Culture, Tourism, Sport and Social Justice during this time despite the two separate probes.

The MS for South Wales East recently had her portfolio slimmed down after her shadow education role was handed to another shadow cabinet member during a Welsh Tory reshuffle.

Unrest

It is understood there is unrest amongst senior Welsh Conservatives over why Ms Jones has not had the whip withdrawn whilst the two investigations play out.

One Tory source told us the allegations against Ms Jones were, “the worst kept secret on the Welsh Conservative corridor”.

The Leader of the Tory Senedd group, Andrew RT Davies is said to be waiting for both investigations to reach a conclusion before taking any action.

We asked Laura Anne Jones for a statement in relation to both the police investigation into claims she had falsified her mileage claim and the probe by the Standards Commissioner into the dismissal of her staffer.

She said: “I would cooperate fully with any investigation into my activities as a Member of the Senedd, were they to happen, as would be expected of any Member.

“The standards process is confidential, and I would expect others not to provide a running commentary, or they may risk jeopardising the integrity of that process.”

The Senedd Commissioner for Standards, Douglas Bain is an independent person appointed by the Welsh Parliament to investigate complaints about the conduct of Members of the Senedd.

The process is highly confidential with no details made public until the Commissioner has reached a conclusion.


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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

More hypocrisy from Andrew RT Davies with his silence and inaction. Looks as if the Welsh Conservatives have been caught with their hand in the till again with Laura Anne Jones MS expenses scandal. What is it with the Tories and abuse of public money? They must think it’s expensive confetti to be thrown about. We’ve had enough of politicians like her using our money as a dip fund. She & they should never forget that they are public servants and work for us. I think she should suspended and face her constituents.

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 month ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

These people backed Boris Johnson, whose lifelong career of lies and deceptions proved to be no obstacle whatever to his elevation to the leadership of their party at Westminster.

I gather that the assertion that ‘a fish rots from the head’ is actually not accurate, but nonetheless it does seem to apply within politics.

Paul Symons
Paul Symons
1 month ago

She should be throughly ashamed of herself. How many of us would get away with fiddling expense accounts? It’s theft and should be a sacking offence. The young generation who are taking up the baton and thinking about voting must be wondering why we try and bring our kids up to be honest and yet our leaders are letting us down.

Welsh Patriot
Welsh Patriot
1 month ago

Its seems strange that Douglas Bain only investigates complaints against non Labour MS’s. But I agree this looks almost as bad as accepting £200,000 from a convicted criminal.

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
1 month ago

If you worked for a compony and falsely claimed traveling or any expenses you would be SACKED and possibly charged and taken to court

John Ellis
John Ellis
1 month ago

I hear on the radio this morning that Andrew RT has at least asked her to ‘step aside’ from her shadow portfolio, for now.

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