Vaughan Gething defends his World Cup trip to Qatar with First Minister Mark Drakeford

Wales' Economy Minister has stood by his and the First Minister’s decisions to attend World Cup matches in Qatar but insists that they will use them to highlight Wales’ "values" and to raise concerns about human rights.

Vaughan Gething also said that he’s interested in getting further details from the family of a woman who was raped and murdered in Doha with a view to highlighting her case.

The Labour Welsh Government has faced criticism for attending from political opponents who have called for a boycott of Qatar because of its treatment of migrant workers and anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer has also said that he and fellow Labour MPs would boycott the matches. 

But at a press conference on Tuesday, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething defended what he described as “engaging” with Qatar, saying that “the Welsh Government does not underestimate the serious issues this tournament has raised for citizens, sporting bodies and governments everywhere. 

"I am pleased that our plans reinforce the values that make Wales the nation it is and we will not step back from those values."

Asked about the different stance taken by fellow Labour politicians including his party’s UK leader, Mr Gething said that “it's entirely reasonable for people to take different positions on the issue."

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer said he and fellow Labour MPs would boycott the matches.  Credit: PA

"There is a reasonable case to argue for engagement or not, and I'm not surprised there are people in every political party who have different points of view", Mr Gething added.

"One of the key differences, of course, is that our colleagues in Westminster are for the time being on the opposition benches."

"We are in the government, we are leading our country, we have government's responsibilities and the FAW are very clear that they want to be alongside the Welsh Government as they take their journey on this global stage.

"We have opportunities to promote and project our values as I've set out and to engage in the country in a different way because we are in the government and that's what we are choosing to do.”

He also said that he would seek further details of the case of a woman who was raped and murdered in Qatar to see if he and the First Minister should highlight her story. 

Alison Patterson, who lives in West Wales, has written to the English and Welsh teams, asking them to highlight the case of her daughter Lauren Patterson who was teaching in Doha when she went missing in 2013.

Vaughan Gething said that, while he was “only aware of the headlines of the case” that “as a father myself [you think] what you would think and feel if something happens to your ownchild of any age, and I really am truly sorry for the family for what they have already gone through. 

"I understand why they'd make the call. I think it'd be a matter for the team at what they decide to do, but I'll certainly be interested … in getting a much clearer briefing on what's happened and if there are opportunities for us to talk about it, and indeed, to have that conversation with the First Minister as well."

However there has been continued criticism of the Welsh Government’s plan.

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said, "I am not convinced by the arguments set out today by Vaughan Gething nor previous arguments from the Welsh Labour Government seeking to justify this morally unjustifiable trip."

She added that, “Vaughan Gething has stated that the Welsh Government will “proactively use Wales’ place in the World Cup in Qatar to promote our strong Welsh values”, yet today has again not provided any evidence on how the Government will do this."