Welsh Conservatives have today tabled a motion to instruct a cross-party committee of Assembly Members to convene “at the earliest opportunity” for a special meeting to investigate whether the First Minister may have misled Assembly Members.
If it receives the backing of AMs, the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister will be tasked with undertaking an inquiry into the First Minister’s knowledge and handling of alleged bullying within his own office.
The committee would take evidence from witnesses, including the First Minister, and the resulting report would be debated by Assembly Members during plenary.
Tabled in the name of Paul Davies AM, in accordance with Standing Order 17.2, the motion concerns apparent contradictions in comments made by the First Minister of what he knew of bullying allegations, which to date he has refused to explain.
The dispute hinges on a Written Assembly Question submitted by Welsh Conservative Darren Millar AM in 2014 to the First Minister asking:
Has the First Minister ever received any reports or been made aware of any allegations of bullying by special and/or specialist advisers at any time in the past three years and, if so, when and what action, if any, was taken?
The First Minister responded saying: No allegations have been made.
Bullying allegations made in recent weeks by former Cabinet Minister Leighton Andrews, and a former special adviser to the First Minister – Steve Jones – appear to contradict this assertion, leading to claims by Welsh Conservatives that Carwyn Jones may have broken the Ministerial Code.
Andrew RT Davies said:
“The First Minister has now had innumerable opportunities to set the record straight over what he knew of these very serious bullying allegations within his own office, but has to date point blank refused. Nowhere was this more publicly exemplified than in his woeful performance in First Minister’s Questions and in his response to my Topical Question yesterday.
“His silence on this issue shows a contempt for Assembly Members, the Welsh public, and democracy. Misleading Assembly Members is an offence worthy of dismissal under the Ministerial Code, but as the sole arbiter of this code, it is unlikely the First Minister will dismiss himself.
“Welsh Conservatives are therefore moved to invite Members from across party divides to back our calls to bring the First Minister before a panel of Assembly Members to properly explain himself and, if necessary, take steps to hold his actions to account. A healthy democracy cannot tolerate leaders who run from scrutiny.”
Notes to Editors:
To propose that the National Assembly for Wales, in accordance with Standing Order 17.2, instructs the Committee for the Scrutiny of the First Minister in these terms:
1. That a special meeting of the Committee takes place at the earliest opportunity to establish an inquiry into the allegations made by former members and advisers to the Welsh Government in relation to bullying, intimidation and the undermining of Ministers.
2. That the Committee should establish the following as part of its inquiry:
a) when allegations were made to the First Minister and/or his office;
b) how allegations were investigated;
c) what actions were taken as a result of any investigation;
d) the role of the First Minister and his office in dealing with these issues; and
e) the validity of the answers given by the First Minister to the National Assembly for Wales in relation to such allegations.
4. That the Committee should take evidence from witnesses as part of its work.
5. That the Committee should prepare a report of its findings to the Assembly by February half-term 2018.