Posted: Tue 19th Jan 2021

Investigation after allegations Members of the Senedd breached Covid rules at Welsh Parliament ‘meeting’ where alcohol was consumed

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jan 19th, 2021

Three politicians have apologised and denied wrongdoing after allegations surfaced about a “meeting” six weeks ago.

BBC Wales named Conservative Senedd leader Paul Davies, Darren Millar MS and others who the BBC say “were seen drinking together” along with stating Labour Senedd member Alun Davies “was also involved”. All three deny breaking any rules.

The allegation is that consumption of alcohol took place on the premises of the Welsh Parliament on the 8th of December – a significant action and date with the pandemic restrictions on the serving of alcohol coming into effect on the 4th of December. The unofficial ‘meeting’ took place ‘in the Senedd tea room’ in the Ty Hywel building, which is behind and linked to the Senedd building pictured above and contains a range of office space as well as canteen areas, at a time where restaurants and pubs could not.

The Senedd Commission have issued a statement saying: “We are aware of an incident on the Senedd estate last month which may have been contrary to public health regulations in force at the time.

“The Senedd Commission takes the public health regulations in Wales very seriously and is currently investigating the matter in order to establish an accurate account of what took place and to determine whether action may be required.”

The alleged incident took place after a Plenary session on December 8th, a session that was attended by some members in person and others connecting via Zoom. Some of the members involved in the alleged incident were on the Zoom view, with others in the chamber.

This afternoon the Welsh Conservatives have issued a statement from Paul Davies MS, Darren Millar MS and Paul Smith ( Welsh Conservative chief of staff ) who said “We are profoundly sorry for our actions.  While we did not break the rules, we recognise that what was part of a day’s work would not be seen to be following the spirit of them, especially given the tough time the country has been going through.”

They say the meeting was being held to discuss legislation for possible inclusion in the Welsh Conservative manifesto, and that there was never more than four people in the room at once and social distancing rules were maintained. They also say they drank one or two glasses of wine.

A spokesperson for the Senedd Labour Group said: “A member has been suspended from the privileges of Senedd Labour Group membership while an investigation takes place into this alleged incident.”

Alun Davies MS said: “I am very sorry if my actions have given the impression that I am in any way not committed to upholding the regulations which I have consistently supported throughout the last year.”

“For context, the purpose of this meeting from my perspective was to seek to persuade the Welsh Conservatives to support my proposal for a “Welsh Hearts Bill” which the Senedd endorsed on 21 October and to make a commitment to enact this life-saving legislation in their manifesto for May’s election. This is part of my work across political parties on this issue.”

“The Senedd Commission has already confirmed to me that I did not breach the Coronavirus regulations on the consumption of either food or alcohol that were in force at that time. I have also confirmed to the Commission that the regulations on the number of people present and on social distancing were not breached either. I look forward to the Commission’s final conclusions on this matter.”

It is yet unclear why the incident has only just come to light.

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