Former Minister Alun Davies apologises after sacking

Former Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies AM has apologised for breaking the ministerial code after being sacked from the Welsh Government.

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Civil servant's bravery praised after minister's dismissal

At First Minister's Questions in the Senedd, the bravery of the private secretary who referred Alun Davies' actions to the First Minister's office has been praised by Antoinette Sandbach, who was one of the AMs targeted by Mr Davies' request for information about farm subsidy payments.

Carwyn Jones replied that the fact he had released the private secretary's email was a sign of an open government, which will publish even difficult emails. Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said it was a fiasco that called the First Minister's judgment into question.

Had you shown better judgment last week you would not now be in this humiliating position.

– Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood AM

The First Minister stuck to his position that he was right not to sack Alun Davies for breaching the ministerial code in his lobbying for the proposed Circuit of Wales in his constituency. When asked to apologise to the five AMs targeted by Mr Davies, he replied "yes".

Sacked minister's portfolio broken up

The wide-ranging Natural Resources portfolio held by sacked minister Alun Davies has been broken up following his dismissal. First Minister Carwyn Jones has reallocated agriculture and fisheries to Economy Minister, Edwina Hart AM.

She'll be assisted by a new Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Rebecca Evans. The Culture and Sport Minister, John Griffiths AM, has environment policy added to his responsibilities.

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Minister 'played fast and loose' with public's trust

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's communities and food spokesperson said if Mr Davies has simply asked him if received any farm payments he would have told him that he did not.

The public places great trust in our elected cabinet members and it is clear that Alun Davies played fast and loose with that trust. The First Minister should have taken this action last week when the independent report into Alun Davies’ conduct found that he had broken the Ministerial Code on more than one occasion.

Had Alun Davies had the courtesy to ask me in person if I received the single farm payment I would have answered him directly that I do not. It is a great shame for the people of Wales that Alun Davies has acted inappropriately as a Minister, and it is right that the First Minister has finally taken this action.

– Llyr Gruffydd AM

Sacked minister's actions 'completely unacceptable' says Lib Dem leader

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams has condemned both Alun Davies' actions and the First Minister's judgement. Ms Williams was one of the AMs targeted by the sacked minister's attempt to obtain information about farm subsidies.

She added that the whole affair was both disappointing and embarrassing for the government.

The actions of Alun Davies as a Minister are atrocious and completely unacceptable for anyone serving in public office. The fact that Alun Davies used his Ministerial office to start a smear campaign against those that dared to hold him to account is disgraceful.

Alun Davies has been mired with controversy throughout his ministerial term. Aside from the actions that have come to light today, his inappropriate lobbying over the Circuit of Wales left the ministerial rule book in tatters. His behaviour has left the First Minister with no choice but to sack him, but the fact that this was not done sooner calls into question the First Minister’s own judgement.

It is thoroughly disappointing that it has taken the First Minister this long to act and sack Alun Davies. This whole situation has been handled shambolically from the beginning by the First Minister, and is yet another embarrassing chapter for this floundering Welsh Labour Government.

– Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams AM

'Astonishing scandal' raises wider questions says Tory leader

Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies has said that an apparent attempt by the sacked Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies to smear him and four other AMs is an "astonishing scandal" that raises serious wider questions for the First Minister and the Welsh Government.

Efforts to gain this information – in what would appear to be attempts to smear Assembly Members – is reminiscent of Damien McBride’s era under Gordon Brown. What possible reason could the former Minister have for taking this devious action?

His sacking was inevitable and questions must also be raised about his continuing role as an Assembly Member. This – effectively – is gross misconduct, and we have today written to the Standards Commissioner, making the case that this person may not be a fit and proper person to hold elected office.

There are clearly much wider questions to be asked about the type of government Labour’s Carwyn Jones is running. That the First Minister refused to sack Alun Davies following a clear breach of the Ministerial Code – and only made the right decision following what appears to be attempts to smear – raises very real concerns over trust, procedure, and his judgement.

I will now be calling for a much wider inquiry, overseen independently, to ensure the public that it is not common practice for a minister to seek information on individuals or organisations in a compromising – or political – way.

What did the First Minister know and when? And what did his Special Advisers know? Welsh Conservatives will continue to fiercely question Labour’s leader over this hugely worrying scandal – and we urge the Labour Party to take appropriate action to remove the member for Blaenau Gwent.”

– Leader of the Opposition Andrew RT Davies AM

First Minister 'angry and disappointed' with Alun Davies

Sources close to the First Minister told ITV News that Carwyn Jones is "extremely angry and disappointed" with sacked Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies. Carwyn Jones took "swift action" once he was told about his request for information about farm subsidy payments to political opponents.

It's stressed that this was not a case of a straw breaking the camel's back after Mr Davies was found to have broken the ministerial code over his handling of plans for a race track in his Blaenau Gwent constituency.

The request for the details of farm payments would have been a sacking offence in any event, as the First Minister took the view that there was no place for that sort of activity inside the Welsh Government.

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Sacked minister asked for details of five AMs

Alun Davies has been sacked as Natural Resources Minister after asking his private secretary for details of farm subsidy payment received by five AMs. They included the leaders of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, The five were:

  • Andrew RT Davies
  • Kirsty Williams
  • Antoinette Sandbach
  • William Powell
  • Llyr Gryffudd

ITV News understands that Mr Davies was advised that it was not appropriate for him to request the information, apparently for use as ammunition at question time in the Senedd.

Correspondence released by the First Minister's office reveals that the private secretary took advice from senior civil servants after Mr Davies repeated the request.

I am in search of some advice in terms of the Minister’s request below. A short background is that the Minister is requesting the payment amounts for the recipients named under the Common Agricultural Policy, Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 (P1 and P2 respectively). These payments are Europe based and are allocated to recipients to sustainably manage agricultural land.

I have two concerns here, (a) that this information is not technically agreed to be in the public domain yet and (b) according to the Ministerial Code (point 1.1 subsection (ix)) it states that Ministers must not use the Welsh Government’s resources for party-political purposes. As the request is so specific, I am mindful that this is how it may be viewed if subject to FOI procedure.

I have advised the Minister that I do not think it is appropriate to have this information which has been agreed by the officials ************ and ***********, however he has now requested this information verbally again. Given the week we have all just endured, I would be very grateful for your view on this. I am happy to discuss or to provide further information if you need it.

– Email from Alun Davies' private secretary

Alun Davies sacked from Welsh Government

Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies has been sacked. First Minister Carwyn Jones has just issued a statement explaining why he's fired him from the cabinet, just a week after standing by him over a breach of the ministerial code.

In recent days communications between the Minister for Natural and Resources and Food and civil servants in his division have been drawn to my attention.

The emails indicate that the minister asked the civil service to give him private information about the financial interests of a number of members of this chamber. These relate to CAP payments made to these individuals.

I believe that these requests were poorly judged, inappropriate and the fact that they were made at all is unacceptable to me as First Minister.

As a result, I have asked the Minister for Natural Resources and Food to leave the government.

I made this decision with some regret and would like to record my appreciation for the contribution that Alun Davies has undoubtedly made to the work of the government during his time in office.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
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