Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Questions remain after Minister for Natural Resources fired.

Today Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies AM was fired, following a request to civil servants to disclose and find out confidential information in relation to opposition Assembly Members and their families, which sought to breach the protections of the Data Protection Act, which protects every citizen against information being shared with those not authorised to see it.

Despite firing the Minister, serious questions remain concerning the actions of First Minister Carwyn Jones. 

(1)     Carwyn Jones has repeatedly refused to disclose which breaches of the Ministerial Code he considered were breached by Alun Davies, and why it was that they were not sackable breaches. 


(2)    It is clear that the First Minister himself was misled by the Minister when Alun Davies asked his private secretary to make the FM “aware that I have sought advice on this Ministerial Code on two occasions with reference to this issue since being appointed to my current role in March” – However the Minister did not apparently tell the FM that he had ignored and directly contravened the advice that he had been given. (see para 68 of the report).  The FM must have been aware of this when he received a copy of Sir Derek Jones’ report, but concluded that he could stand by a Minister who had actively misled him.


(3)    Why have Welsh Government continued to refuse to disclose the Circuit of Wales due diligence report.?


(4)    Furthermore, why has the First Minister not disclosed the further information requested in my email of the 2nd July, which I will include below.  The ONLY inference, is that other Ministers could also be tainted by the scandal and are being sheltered by the FM whilst he makes inquiries.

below is the text of the letter sent to Carywn Jones on the 2nd July 2014 - the day Alun Davies decided to request information to smear opposition members.

Dear Carwyn


I am grateful that you placed on the record in Plenary that the correspondence requested in my email  to you dated 13th June 2014 would be disclosed to me at the same time that the report was placed in the library.  The information requested was as follows


(a)    Copies of all correspondence from Alun Davies to the Chief Executive, board members or other employees of NRW concerning the Circuit of Wales whether in his capacity as Minister or AM.  I have seen Annex 3 and don’t require disclosure of that material, which was already in the public domain.  However I would welcome confirmation that no additional correspondence exists and that full disclosure has been made of all emails, notes of meetings and contact.

(b)   All correspondence between Alun Davies and the Ministers responsible for Planning and the Economy on the circuit of Wales again whether in his capacity as Minister or local Assembly Member.  Any meetings to discuss finance to the Circuit of Wales attended by the Minister for Natural Resources. 


In addition I request disclosure of the following items referred to in the report of the Permanent Secretary under the FOI Act provisions, although I would suggest that transparency and openness require these to be disclosed prior to the debate currently tabled.


(c)    Further to the publication of the report I request disclosure of the full advice provided to the Minister by his officials refered to in Paragraph 36 of the report and a full copy of the Cabinet Division advice dated 28th March 2012.

(d)   Copies of the relevant extracts of the Ministerial Code provided to Alun Davies by his Private Secretary in March 2013.

(e)    Details as to whether the Minister had notified his ministerial staff of the meeting on the 18th June.  Confirmation as to whether his specialist advisor was present at that meeting or any member of his constituency staff.  Confirmation as to whom authorised that no minutes be made or taken both by NRW and by the Minister.  Confirmation as to whether the meeting was entered into his Ministerial diary.

(f)     A full copy of the email sent by the First Minister’s office on the 2nd August 2013.  A full copy of the response made by the Private Secretary to Alun Davies following the email of the 2nd August as detailed in Paragraph 68.

(g)   Details as to whom prepared the proposed statement by the minister on the 13th August. A copy of the proposed but unreleased statement.  Full copies of all notes or correspondence from the Minister to his officials seeking guidance as referred to in paragraph 69 of the report and a full copy of all advice from his ministerial advisors – whether in note, written or other form.


Kind regards"
The failure of the First Minister to put this information in the public domain, particularly where it seems that Alun Davies actively misled the First Minister in the item requested in paragraph (f) requested above.
The failure to disclose this infomation immediately, puts other Ministers as being at risk from this scandal, particularly those who had meetings or discussions over providing further finance to the project, and it is surprising that the FM has not sought to release the information quickly and effectively, as issues around the Circuit of Wales will not be going away.