Vaughan Gething accused of starting leadership 'under a cloud' over controversial £200k donation

Vaughan Gething has been accused of starting his time as first minister "under a cloud".

In his first FMQs in the Senedd since succeeding Mark Drakeford, opposition leaders highlighted concerns over controversial donations to Mr Gething’s leadership campaign.

In turn, he said that all donations have been declared and said he and other Welsh ministers had a good record of adhering to the ministerial code.

During the leadership contest to find a new leader for Welsh Labour, it emerged that Vaughan Gething’s campaign had received a donation of £200,000 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.

Mr Gething has consistently said he followed all guidelines for campaign funding and had declared them as required.

Answering questions in the Senedd today, the first minister confirmed to the Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies that the figure of £200,000 was correct.

And he said that any amount not spent would be given to the Labour Party.

He said: "Once the accounts are filed, I've no doubt there will be continuing interest, and I look forward to being clear about that. I need to finish off the accounts for all the donations I received, of varying amounts."

Andrew RT Davies challenges the First Minister over donations to fund his leadership campaign.

But the Conservative leader asked: "What measures have you put in place now that you are first minister to make sure that there is not the continuing perception that money can buy influence within your government and a seat at the cabinet table?”

Mr Gething did not directly answer but said he would not be taking any role in any decisions connected to the company behind the donation because they are based in his constituency.

He said: "I’ve been scrupulous in policing the divide between constituency and ministerial interests, and I have sent back submissions that have, on limited occasions, erroneously come to me with constituency interests in them.

"You can expect that from all members of my government. I only wish the same could be said for other administrations within the United Kingdom."

However, Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said the controversy meant that Mr Gething "came into the job under a cloud, but at least we know that he had a skill for leveraging in money after he persuaded one individual to donate £200,000 to his leadership campaign".

Plaid Cymry leader, Rhun Ap iorwerth added to the criticism put to Mr Gething.

He then challenged the first minister about how much influence he has with the UK Labour leader, Keir Starmer, saying: "He was recently seen sitting around Keir Starmer's shadow cabinet table, so will he confirm whether he was just there as a photo op, or did he manage whilst he was there to get a firm pledge of fair funding for Wales if Labour wins the next UK election?"

Vaughan Gething said: "I recognise that Mr ap Iorwerth continues to be obsessed about internal Labour Party matters, just as he was when the [MS] for Cardiff West was the first minister.

"I look forward to an ongoing and engaged conversation with the current shadow team within Westminster.

"I look forward to putting my shoulder to the wheel to ensure that they are a future UK Labour Government, and that election cannot come soon enough.

"That would be good for Wales and good for Britain, to have two Labour Governments working together in the shared interests of the people we are privileged to serve."

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