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Welsh MP received Six Nations tickets from company he thanked in the Commons

05 Mar 2021 3 minutes Read
Labour MP Stephen Doughty. Picture by Richard Townsend (CC BY 3.0).

A Welsh MP received Six Nations rugby tickets from a company he thanked in the Commons.

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty accepted two VIP tickets to Wales’ match against France in the 2018 Six Nations tournament from Veezu Ltd.

The match came months after Doughty had spoken about the company, which runs Cardiff’s Dragon Taxis, in the UK Parliament.

At first the Welsh Labour MP had criticised Veezu’s treatment of drivers in Cardiff. Speaking in the Commons in March 2017, he said: “I am concerned that companies such as Dragon and Veezu, who operate taxi firms, are not willing to meet drivers to discuss their concerns or to meet the GMB. That is of great concern to me.”

But in a debate on the taxi trade in Westminster in July 17, Doughty added: “I thank Dragon Veezu, which owns taxi firms across the country, for its willingness to engage.

“I criticised it in the House some time ago, and since that time we have had some positive and constructive engagement. I welcome the fact that it dealt with some of the charges and unfair fees that drivers faced, for example.

“A lot of progress is still required in that relationship, but at least we are having a dialogue and there is openness. I welcome that and hope that it will continue.”

By March 2018, Doughty was on good enough terms with the company to accept Six Nations hospitality worth £1,000 from Veezu, his register of interests shows.

During the following year’s tournament, the Labour MP accepted two tickets and hospitality worth £3,000 from Smart Solutions to the Wales vs England match. Smart Solutions’ director, Nathan Bowles, is also a co-founder and director of Veezu.

‘Transparent’

Doughty told Wales Online last year: “On rugby hospitality – if I accept it – my general rule is only to go with local businesses or organisations where there is a direct constituency or parliamentary relevance and a working dinner / lunch around the match – which was the case for all of the ones listed.

“I always ask for the full commercial price from the sponsor, so that I am completely transparent as to the commercial value – though usually it just amounts to ticket and food.”

Stephen Doughty’s office told Nation.Cymru his reply still stood.

The latest details were reported in today’s Private Eye, whose story says: “Spare a thought for politicians and business lobbyists who had to watch last weekend’s Wales v England rugby game on TV instead of wallowing in corporate hospitality at the Principality Stadium.

“A Six Nations behind closed doors is as big a blow to them as it is to fans…We trust that in next year’s Six Nations normal service can resume.”

Private Eye’s story references research by Nation.Cymru which found that Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has received more free rugby tickets than any other UK Parliamentarian.

RT Davies has accepted 15 tickets to eight matches since 2016, ahead of Doughty and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, who have each received tickets to four matches.

Nation.Cymru revealed last September how Veezu has hired Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns as a £15,000-a-year adviser, while Smart Solutions was the biggest donor to the Labour leadership campaign of Cardiff South and Penarth MS Vaughan Gething.

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