Vaughan Gething defends donations from company whose director was convicted of environmental offence

media wales
Mr Gething has received donations from an environmental group whose director was given a suspended sentence for illegally dumping waste on a conservation site Credit: Media Wales

Welsh Labour leadership contender Vaughan Gething has defended taking £200,000 in donations from a company whose director was convicted of environmental offences.Current Welsh Government economy minister Mr Gething has received donations from Dauson Environmental Group whose director David Neal was given a suspended prison sentence in 2013 for illegally dumping waste on a conservation site on the Gwent Levels.At the time, Cardiff Magistrates' Court heard that toxic liquid had leaked into the water.His companies Atlantic Recycling and Neal Soil Suppliers were also prosecuted and ordered to pay fines and costs of £202,000.

Atlantic Recycling and Neal Soil Suppliers donated a total of £38,000 to Mr Gething in 2018.Another one of his companies, Resources Management UK Ltd, recently faced action by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) after complaints about the smell at Withyhedge Landfill in Pembrokeshire. Residents dubbed it a "a stink bomb on steroids".

Since December 1, 2023, Mr Gething has received three donations totalling £203,000, according to records on the Electoral Commission website.

These include a £100,000 cash donation on 18 December, and another on 11 January, both from Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. For the same period, his opponent in the leadership contest, Jeremy Miles, has received £32,300.

These were donations of £2,500 from company Trosol, received on January 5; £5,000 from Elizabeth Macavoy, £9,800 from Duraseal EWI Ltd, another £5,000 from Elizabeth Macavoy and £10,000 from Ian Morgan.In a BBC debate on Wednesday night, Mr Gething was asked about the donation. He was asked if Mr Neal was an "appropriate person" to receive donations from.

Mr Gething responded: "All donations are checked and then filed properly with the Electoral Commission and indeed declared to the Senedd.

"The issue in Pembrokeshire is one that I understand is being resolved in accordance with NRW guidance and requirements and will be dealt with in the coming weeks."Host Bethan Rhys Roberts asked: "Are you happy, and everything is right?" To that, Mr Gething said "yes".

Mr Miles was asked if there was "anything we need to know about your donations?"

He replied: "No, donations to Vaughan's campaign are a matter for him and donations for my campaign are a matter for me.

"To be absolutely clear, my manifesto makes it clear we would have the most stringent environment regulations as part of our statutory frameworks going forward, and clear targets to reverse biodiversity loss."Mr Gething then interjected: "To be fair, those are commitments in both manifestos."Jeremy Miles' supporter Lee Waters, MS for Llanelli, has said on social media the donation to Mr Gething was completely unjustifiable and wrong.He wrote: "I'm sorry but £200k on an internal election in a cost of living crisis is completely unjustifiable. I don't want this to become a negative campaign but I am genuinely shocked and angry by this. It's wrong."

The Welsh Conservatives leader in the Senedd, Andrew RT Davies, has written a letter to First Minister Mark Drakeford saying the donations are "very concerning and raise questions around Vaughan Gething's judgement."

He has asked the Welsh Government if they will be launching an investigation into Vaughan Gething under the ministerial code.

ITV Wales approached the Welsh Government to ask if this would happen, but they declined to comment.

Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds MS said she was "very disappointed" by the news and the decision showed a "clear lack of judgement."

Director of Dauson Environmental Group, David Neal, said: "As a Welsh company, the Dauson Environmental Group has a wide number of operations and assets and is committed to investing in the future of Wales.

"We want to see the economy, communities, and environment continue to prosper in Wales, and we have supported Vaughan Gething’s campaign as we feel he is the best person for the job."Voting is open in the campaign to succeed Mark Drakeford, closing on 14 March, and the result will be announced on 16 March.