The First Minister has dismissed Liberal Democrat claims that the attempt by sacked minister Alun Davies to obtain details of political opponents' farm subsidy payments was part of a wider Labour party smear campaign. Carwyn Jones told ITV News that he was confident that it was "a one-off".
Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams, who was one of the AMs targeted by Mr Davies, says Labour's official Assembly twitter feed quoted a question she asked about farm subsidy payments on the very day the minister asked his civil servants for the information on farm payments.
She said "The First Minister needs to investigate who else in his party knew about what Alun Davies was up to. Unless it is just a massive coincidence, judging from his party’s official twitter feed it would seem that others high up in the Labour party possibly knew about it.
"At the time it seemed particularly odd that the Labour party was tweeting the questions. It now seems clear that it was an attempt at intimidation; yet they’ve actually shot themselves in the foot. This scandal looks like it could have grubby Labour fingerprints all over it.
“It is outrageous that Alun Davies tried to use his position for party political purposes. If the Labour party officials were part of this shocking misuse of public office, then the people of Wales deserve to know about it.”
First Minister Carwyn Jones was forced to answer an urgent question on the handling of the row over Alun Davies's breach of the Minsterial code. In this exchange he is answering questions from opposition leader , Andrew RT Davies.
The Conservative AM whose original letter led to the Alun Davies ministerial code breach inquiry has again stepped up her demands for information from the First Minister. Antoinette Sandbach has called for publication of all relevant documents.
In her letter to Carwyn Jones she repeats her request for all correspondence between Mr Davies and senior figures in Natural Resources Wales as well as details of any communications and meetings between him and other Ministers regarding the Circuit of Wales.
Other documents that Ms Sandbach has asked to see include the advice given to the minister by his officials, a full copy of the email of advice from the First Minister's office as well as any notes or correspondence relating to that advice.
The Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Kirsty Williams, says the First Minister must sack the Natural Resources Minister Alun Davies following his breach of the ministerial code. Mr Davies apologised to the Assembly yesterday but continues in his cabinet rôle.
Opposition parties have joined together to force a debate both on the minister's conduct and on the First Minister's handling of the affair. For more details click here. The parties are also calling for the creation of an independent adjudicator of the ministerial code.
The Welsh Lib Dem leader, Kirsty Williams, says it's now a matter of trust:
Alun Davies should have done the honourable thing and resigned. As that hasn’t happened, the First Minister must take swift action to remove him from his position.
It is simply not right that the First Minister is judge, jury and executioner of his own and his Ministers’ behaviour. How can people have trust in the Welsh Government when Ministers have been found to have broken Government rules but allowed to continue in their job?
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have led the calls for years now for there to be an independent adjudicator of the Ministerial Code. The debate put forward by the opposition parties is the next step in our long running campaign to get the Welsh Government to finally do the right thing. The current system is simply not fit for purpose.
– Kirsty Williams AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader
The Presiding Officer has allowed an urgent question from Plaid Cymru AM Simon Thomas. The question focusses on the advice given to Mr Davies before the email exchange which led to allegations that he applied undue pressure on Natural Resources Wales.
Will the First Minister make a statement on the advice received by the Minister for Natural Resources and Food that he should not comment on matters relating to the Circuit of Wales, which was revealed in the Permanent Secretary’s report that was placed in the library on 1 July?**
Plaid Cymru says there are further unanswered questions over the Natural Resources Minister's breach of the ministerial code. Alan Davies apologised to AMs yesterday but the First Minister decided not to sack him.
Last night I reported that the opposition parties have joined forces to ensure there's further scrutiny of the minister's conduct and the First Minister's decision. You can find more details of the motion they've tabled here. As a 'No Named Day Motion' it could be discussed on any business day.
A decision on timing is up to the Assembly's business committee and given that three business managers have signed it there's a good chance it'll be debated before the Assembly breaks for summer in two weeks' time. Plaid Cymru's business manager, Elin Jones, has said this:
The report into the Minister’s conduct showed a clear breach of the rules, and so the First Minister needs to tell the Assembly on what basis he was not sacked or was allowed to not resign over it. At this point we have little confidence that the First Minister has taken the significant breaches of the code by the Minster for Natural Resources.
There needs to be much more transparency over the actions of the Minister and the decisions of the First Minister and the purpose of tabling a No Named Day Motion is to ensure that AMs are able to scrutinise this decision further. Plaid Cymru will also call for the establishment of an Independent Adjudicator of the Ministerial Code so that we can increase confidence in those elected to public office.
The opposition leaders in the Assembly have joined forces to keep up the pressure on the First Minister over a breach of the ministerial code by the Natural Resources Minister. Alun Davies apologised for the breach but Carwyn Jones decided not to sack him.
Now the leaders of Plaid Cymru, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have tabled a joint motion which if accepted will call for an independent adjudicator to take any future judgements away from the First Minister.
You can read the text of the motion here. I understand the move is the brainchild of Plaid's Elin Jones and is considered more effective than a confidence vote as a way of of reopening the debate and maintaining scrutiny.
Welsh Conservatives say the Natural Resources Minister is now in an untenable position after apologising for breaching the ministerial code. Opposition Leader Andrew RT Davies says Alun Davies should resign.
What is the point in having a Ministerial Code if the First Minister, as judge, jury and executioner, can turn a blind eye to breaches and let Ministers drift along regardless?
This report makes clear that the Minister and wider Cabinet received numerous warnings about public statements on the Circuit of Wales proposals, but the Minister ignored them.
It is black and white – the Minister breached the Ministerial Code. His position is now untenable.
The Natural Resources Minister, having clearly breached the Ministerial Code, should now do the decent thing and fall on his sword.
Welsh Conservative sources say the opposition parties may look to holding a vote of confidence in the Natural Resources minister Alun Davies. The minister has apologised after a report found that he breached the ministerial code.
The Tories say they've suggested that Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats join forces to push for a confidence vote next week. But I understand there's no indication that the other parties would agree.