1. ITV Report

'Out of control' lobbyists complained about me says AM

Neil McEvoy has been a AM for South Wales Central since 2016

Assembly member Neil McEvoy, who was permanently suspended from Plaid Cymru's group of AMs earlier this week, has claimed that he's the victim of a campaign against him by the political lobbying firm Deryn.

Deryn was founded by the former Labour special adviser to the Welsh Government Cathy Owens and the former Plaid AM Nerys Evans. In February last year, Mr McEvoy successfully complained to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom it had awarded a contract to Deryn without a competitive tendering process.

Neil McEvoy has long maintained that lobbyists have undue influence in Cardiff Bay and at a press conference this morning said the lobbying companies were "out of control ... unelected people trying to control the elected". He specifically alleged that a number of complaints made against him in March 2017 were all linked to Deryn. Many relate to alleged events before the complaint to Ofcom.

Mr McEvoy released a letter that Nerys Evans sent to Plaid Cymru claiming that she felt "bullied, threatened and intimidated" by him and that he had tried to undermine her reputation and that of her company by a "campaign of bullying and smears".

At his press conference, Mr McEvoy said it was clear from her complaint that Nerys Evans "does not know where Deryn ends and Plaid begins".

Plaid Cymru has responded by stating that "Neil McEvoy has failed to provide evidence that the complaints against him are coordinated in any way ... A number of separate complaints against Neil McEvoy remain with the party and are not related in any way to Deryn".

The party added that details of some of the complaints should not have been handed to Mr McEvoy and that Plaid Cymru has apologised unreservedly for the error.

Deryn responded with the following statement:

We are really proud of the work we do and the team we have built. We have a strong track record on campaigning to tackle the harassment and abuse of women, and in particular of women in public life. Today shows that we have quite a long way to go here in Wales, and it may now be more difficult for women to be confident in raising such matters.

We look forward to seeing what steps Leanne Wood will be putting in place to ensure that a fresh approach is taken, and what efforts will be made to reduce the level of abuse by party members.

– Huw Roberts, Chair of Deryn