First Minister accused of misleadingAssembly over bullying claims
CARWYN Jones is facing allegations that he misled the National Assembly over bullying allegations in his private office.
Former Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews and Steve Jones, a former special adviser to the First Minister, have both described an atmosphere of toxic bullying on the Assembly’s Ministerial fifth floor that impacted on Carl Sargeant.
Mr Andrews has said he made a formal complaint about the alleged bullying in 2014.
In November 2014 Welsh Conservative AM Darren Millar tabled an Assembly Question to Carwyn Jones, 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?”
Mr Jones responded: “No allegations have been made.”
However, when asked by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies in First Minister’s Questions yesterday to confirm that bullying allegations had been made to him, Mr Jones said: “What I can say is that any issues that were brought to my attention at that time were dealt with, and that’s what the answer was given and that answer is correct, back in 2014.”
Outside the chamber Mr Davies said; “The First Minister’s comments suggest that he may have misled AMs over his knowledge of allegations of bullying within Welsh Government. In light of this very troubling revelation, I call on the First Minister to refer himself under the Ministerial Code so that this apparent breach of the rules can be properly investigated. Given that Carwyn Jones is the sole arbiter of the Ministerial Code, he should, as Alex Salmond did in 2012, appoint an independent Whitehall mandarin to set in motion an independent investigation. A healthy and functioning democracy cannot and must not tolerate politicians, especially leaders, who are less than truthful, and AMs deserve answers as to why the First Minister knowingly withheld from them information of such gravity.”
A Welsh Government spokesman responded: “As the First Minister has already made clear, any issues that were brought to his attention in 2014 were dealt with. Anyone who wishes to make a formal complaint, either historic or current, are welcome to do so through his office or the office of the Permanent Secretary.”
The Welsh Conservatives were not satisfied with this response, and a spokesman said: “It’s clear that the First Minister feels he can operate with complete impunity. As the sole arbiter of the Ministerial Code, he has, like a tuppenny Soviet dictator, decided that he is not accountable to it.
“His behaviour, and that of his office, today sends a clear message to the Welsh public: potential wrongdoing will not be scrutinised if it concerns the First Minister. Having already written to the First Minister, we will now be writing to the Permanent Secretary and the Presiding Officer on this matter.”
> Carwyn Jones