First Minister Vaughan Gething announces Hannah Blythyn replacement after minister sacking

First Minister Vaughan Gething has made an addition to his Welsh Government cabinet following the sacking of Hannah Blythyn. Credit: PA Images

First Minister Vaughan Gething has announced a replacement for ex-social partnership minister Hannah Blythyn, who he controversially sacked after alleging she leaked material to the media.

Mr Gething made the shock announcement on Thursday, 16 May, just two months after confirming his Welsh Government cabinet after being elected as Welsh Labour leader.

Ms Blythyn denies the leak claims.

The first minister has now announced Bridgend MS Sarah Murphy as the new minister for social partnership.

Sarah Murphy MS, who represents Bridgend in the Senedd, was first elected to the Welsh Parliament in 2021. Credit: Welsh Government

In a written statement issued on Friday, 17 May, he said: "I am pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Murphy as minister for social partnership.

"Sarah will take forward our ongoing work with our valued social partners as well as providing leadership for our creative, hospitality, tourism and retail sectors.

"I warmly welcome Sarah to my talented and ambitious cabinet team."

Explaining his reasons for dismissing Ms Blythyn, Mr Gething had said in a statement: "Having reviewed the evidence available to me regarding the recent disclosure of communication to the media, I have regrettably reached the conclusion I have no alternative but to ask Hannah Blythyn to leave the government.

"It is of vital importance we are able to maintain confidence amongst government colleagues so that we work as one to focus on improving the lives of the people in Wales."

  • Vaughan Gething was questioned by ITV Wales' Gwennan Campbell.

In a statement posted on social media, Ms Blythyn said: "I am deeply shocked and saddened by what has happened today. I am clear and have been clear that I did not, nor have I ever leaked anything. Integrity is all in politics and I retain mine.

"For a kid from Connah’s Quay it is an immense privilege to serve the community that shaped me, let alone to have served in my country’s government. I will say no more at present."

It has not yet been confirmed what specific "disclosure of communication to the media" Mr Gething is referring to, but the first minister has faced criticism from opposition parties after messages between Welsh Government Labour ministers were leaked to the Nation.Cymru news website.

In one text message posted to the ministerial group chat on August 17, 2020, Mr Gething appeared to have said: "I’m deleting the messages in this group. They can be captured in an FOI (Freedom of Information request) and I think we are in the right place on the choice being made."

That was seen by opponents as undermining evidence he gave to the UK Covid-19 Inquiry in which he said he did not delete WhatsApp messages.

Responding to the new appointment, shadow minister for social partnership Joel James MS said: "I’d like to congratulate the minister on her appointment.

“The new minister has absolutely no time to waste on Labour infighting.

“The review of South Wales Fire and Rescue has already lost the confidence of many residents and needs ministerial grip.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...