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Welsh Conservatives slam Welsh Government, claim AMs were ‘blocked from scrutinising First Minister’ over bullying allegations

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Friday, Jan 19th, 2018.

A series of internal Welsh Government emails have been released after an FOI by the Welsh Conservatives that show discussions over the public messages as to why the Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams cancelled her Vietnam trade trip, that meant she was in Cardiff for a key vote regarding a proposal on setting up of an inquiry into the First Minister.

The vote was won by just two votes, that margin included votes from Kirsty Williams AM and the First Minister himself.

The Welsh Conservatives have tweeted a narrative this afternoon, starting with a quote from the BBC Wales Political Editor Nick Servini on the 29th November ahead of the vote later that day, “Labour should have numbers to stop AMs looking into bullying claims in Welsh Gov. Kirsty Williams was due to be in Vietnam forging education links but never went. I’m told she cancelled for range of reasons – big help for Welsh Gov on numbers.

Welsh Conservative’s submitted a motion to set up an inquiry after allegations were made by former members and advisers to the Welsh Government about bullying, intimidation and the undermining of Ministers. The motion failed after a close two vote margin, that ended 29 to 27 with the opposition demands for an inquiry, held in public, rejected in favour of an examination by an ‘independent adviser’.

Kirsty Williams AM voted against setting up the inquiry, as did First Minister Carwyn Jones himself. Some at the time were critical of Carwyn Jones taking part in the vote due to his involvement in the topic being discussed.

The Welsh Conservatives say: “On the 24th November, BBC Wales Politics asked Welsh Government officials about the cancellation of the trip and they confirmed that they’d ‘kept to the line’. A communications plan was then set to up to ensure the real reason was kept away from the media and Welsh public.”

A response was formulated to the BBC query, and apparently circulated inside Welsh Government stating: “It’s obvious what the real reason is here but are we still happy with the line?”

The ‘obvious’ reason is not elaborated upon in the emails, however the Welsh Conservatives link it to the key vote taking place:

The FOI also shows that the cancellation cost taxpayers around £4,000 with the full amount of the hotels and other elements of the trip still having to be paid despite the cancellation.

Although retweets are commonly not seen as endorsing viewpoints, the Welsh Conservatives account has retweeted a single reaction tweet that commented on the contents of the emails as being “remarkable stuff”. The retweet also adds an insight to how things could be kept from the eyes of those who wish to use Freedom of Information requests, “Unusually sloppy from staff to keep all this on email in a way which FOI covers”.



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