Senedd drinking investigation finds “possible breach” of Covid rules but Welsh Conservatives back leader Paul Davies
An investigation into alcohol being consumed on Senedd premises by politicians has found a “possible breach” of regulations occurred.
However, the Welsh Conservatives have backed their leader Paul Davies MS over his alleged involvement in the face of calls for him to be suspended.
On Monday 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.
It’s alleged that alcohol was consumed on the premises of the Welsh Parliament estate on the 8th of December.
Covid restrictions on the serving of alcohol came into effect on the 4th of December.
The unofficial ‘meeting’ took place in the Senedd tea room within the Ty Hywel building, which is behind and linked to the Senedd building.
Following the allegations, Labour MS Alun Davies was suspended from the party pending an investigation, he issued an apology on Monday.
The Conservative MS’s also apologised saying, we’re “profoundly sorry for our actions.”
The Welsh Conservative Group have since backed their leader Paul Smith.
In a statement issued earlier today, Janet Finch-Saunders MS, Chair of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Welsh Parliament said: “The Welsh Conservative Group met today to discuss events involving three members of the Group on the 8th December.”
“The Group extended its unanimous support for Paul Davies to continue in his post as Leader of the Group.”
Shortly afterwards, Welsh Parliament presiding officer said in statement an internal investigation has concluded that there was a “possible breach” of Covid regulations and has referred the incident to the Standards Commissioner.
Elin Jones MS said: “The Commission’s internal investigation has established that alcohol was consumed by five individuals in the Senedd’s licensed tearoom, four of whom are elected members.”
“The investigation has concluded that a possible breach of regulations occurred and therefore the Chief Executive of the Senedd Commission has referred the matter to Cardiff Council.
“The Regulations in place at the time imposed strict restrictions on members of the public with regard to the consumption of alcohol.
“Given that the possible breach in question occurred as a result of the consumption of alcohol by Members of the Senedd, I have also written to the Standards Commissioner to ask him to investigate whether these Members acted in accordance with the duty in the Code of Conduct to conduct themselves in a manner which maintains and strengthens the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the Senedd.”
First Minister Mark Drakeford said he was made aware of the allegations on Monday evening, “At that point, I made the decision that the Labour member involved should be suspended to allow those investigations to continue.”
Questioned on the allegations during today’s Welsh government press briefing Mr Drakeford said: “I’ll just say two things that I think, in my mind that are very important, as I understand it, and the investigation will reveal this properly, there was a single member of staff on duty that evening.”
“I’m very anxious that this does not all result in that person carrying the can for what happened that evening.”
“That was a single female member of staff faced with a collection of senior senior members, the idea that the person, the staff member was to blame seems to be completely incredulous.”
“I very much hope that this does not head in that direction.”
“Then I think people will want to compare what people have said with what the investigation concludes, I saw the statement from the leader of the Welsh Conservatives and from Darren Millar, who was with him, that they had gone in for a drink after work.”
“I think the implication from that was clear to me that they called in, had a swift half and were on their way home again.”
“People will want to compare the explanations that people have given against what the investigation concludes.”
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