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The Labour Scandal that’s Arguably Bigger than the Angela Rayner Story 

The new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething and the £200,000 donation that could trigger a leadership crisis

Vaughan Gething faces growing calls for an independent investigation into the donation. Photo: Polly Thomas/Alamy

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A major controversy around the donations accepted by new Labour First Minister Vaughan Gething is gathering steam, ahead of a Welsh Parliament vote on 1 May. 

A Plaid Cymru motion calling for a cap on political donations for Senedd members will be debated next week, after it emerged that Gething accepted a £200,000 donation to his leadership campaign to be Welsh Labour Leader – from a convicted environmental polluter. 

The donation came from David Neal, of the firm Dauson Environmental Group. Independent title Nation.Cymru first revealed that Dauson Environmental Group Ltd was £400,000 in debt to the Development Bank of Wales, a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government. The loan was awarded to the company when Vaughan Gething was Economy Minister.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Leader of Plaid Cymru – which works closely with Labour on a shared programme in the Senedd – has said that, in accepting the hefty donation from an individual “who he knew had been found guilty of environmental offences”, Gething had demonstrated a “contemptuous attitude towards political donations”.

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Despite the story having the potential to cause chaos for new First Minister Gething, it has received far less traction than the Scottish National Party’s woes in Scotland and mountains of front pages about Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner’s sale of her council home nearly a decade ago.

The pro-independence party leader ap Iorwerth said that it raised “wider questions about the First Minister’s judgement”. 

Plaid Cymru has called for an independent inquiry into the saga to “bring this sorry chapter to a close” and asked the First Minister to back a cap on individual donations in order to restore the Welsh public’s trust. It is not clear that this would be within the Senedd’s powers. 

“In accepting £200,000 from an individual who he knew had been found guilty of environmental offences, Vaughan Gething has demonstrated a contemptuous attitude towards political donations,” ap Iorwerth said.

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“Not only would the eye-watering sum of money not meet public approval, but it also raises wider questions about the First Minister’s judgement. Only an independent inquiry can bring this sorry chapter to a close.

“The purpose of having our own Parliament is to be able to do things differently and to do them better. The First Minister seems utterly disinterested in seizing this opportunity.” 

He added: “If he is to have any chance of restoring the Welsh public’s trust, the First Minister must urgently rethink his refusal to commission an independent inquiry and commit to supporting Plaid Cymru’s calls for a cap on individual donations.”

Vaughan Gething won the Labour leadership contest in March –  narrowly defeating rival Jeremy Miles. 

A spokesperson for Welsh Labour told Byline Times: “Vaughan Gething was successfully elected by members across the Labour movement following the leadership contest that concluded in March.

“The new leader has asked former First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to chair a review into leadership campaign practices which has been agreed by the Welsh Executive Committee of the party.

“As the panel takes forward this work, the party is united in its mission to serve Wales and help return a UK Labour government in Westminster.”

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Further revelations about the donation have been steadily emerging. Vaughan Gething previously lobbied Natural Resources Wales on behalf of Dauson Environmental Group when he was Economy Minister – encouraging it to reconsider its call for work a DEG site to be paused.

In addition to the Welsh Labour donation scandal, the Conservatives in Westminster have faced calls earlier this year to hand back £15 million in donations from a donor accused of racism, after CheckaTrade founder Frank Hester was recorded making a string of derogatory comments about MP Diane Abbott. 

Plaid Cymru’s motion demanding an investigation will be debated in the Senedd on 1 May.


Donations Inquiry Demand in Full

To propose that the Senedd: 1) Notes a donation of £200,000 made to the First Minister during the Welsh Labour leadership election, and its declaration on the Member’s Register of Interests.

2) Believes that this donation does not meet with public approval.

3) Agrees that there should be an annual maximum cap on the political donations that any individual Member of the Senedd can receive from any individual or entity.

4) Calls on the Business Committee and Standards Committee to bring forward proposals for changes to the Senedd’s Standing Orders and the Members’ Code of Conduct that would put the cap into effect.


Update 27th April: This piece has been amended to note it was Nation.Cymru which first broke the donation allegations (not WalesOnline, although the latter’s coverage has been extensive).

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