Top civil servant tells AMs they can't see leak report

Credit: Welsh Government

Assembly members have been told that despite voting for the publication of a report that found there was no leak of a cabinet reshuffle, it will not be released. The reshuffle involved the sacking of Carl Sargeant, who was found dead days later.

The opposition motion calling for the report's publication, with names of witnesses redacted, was carried after Labour AMs abstained. The Welsh Government has maintained that the Assembly cannot instruct the most senior civil servant, the Permanent Secretary, what to do.

She's Shan Morgan, who was asked by the First Minister to carry out the investigation, after allegations that he or his advisers had leaked advance news of Carl Sargeant's sacking. Ms Morgan has now written to AMs.

In her letter, she tells them that it would not be appropriate to release any details about who was interviewed during the investigation or the information given.

It would act as a disincentive to potential witnesses to come forward or to co-operate in future investigations, if they could not be confident that their anonymity, and the information which they supplied, would be protected. Similarly, I do not feel it appropriate to release the report itself, either in full or in redacted form, because of the implications for the handling of future investigations. >

Welsh government Permanent Secretary Shan Morgan

Shan Morgan does go so far as to explain how leak inquiries are carried out. She delegates responsibility to the Welsh Government's Chief Security Officer and the conclusions of the investigation and the final content of the report itself "are solely for him". He found that there was no evidence of "prior unauthorised sharing of information".

Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies has claimed that the Permanent Secretary's letter is part of what he's called the Welsh Government's "persistent stonewalling".

This is simply unacceptable and bitterly disappointing. The will of the National Assembly was clear and the excuses for not publishing the report are at best weak, and at worst plain obstructive. The conclusion of the Chief Security Officer that is referenced in this letter once again invites more speculation that someone from within the First Minister’s office was authorised to leak information about the Cabinet reshuffle to a third party. If there is nothing to hide then there is no reason why a redacted version of the report cannot be published. We will now consider all available options to ensure the will of the National Assembly for Wales is respected.”

Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies AM