First Minister refers himself to inquiry over knowledge of bullying claims at Welsh Government

Reporter:

David Humphreys

The First Minister has referred himself to an independent inquiry into claims of bullying in the Welsh Government.

Carwyn Jones has agreed to an investigation into allegations he breached the ministerial code over claims his knowledge of bullying in the Welsh Government date back to 2014.

In a statement, Mr Jones said he had agreed with James Hamilton, a current Independent Adviser to the Scottish Government, to accept an immediate referral in relation to allegations made in the last two weeks.

Mr Jones, who has been under pressure for his handling of the allegations made against the late Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant, has also moved to create an independent system to police the ministerial code – away from the Assembly's own scrutiny and standards arrangements.

In a statement yesterday Mr Jones said: “The Ministerial Code sets out the First Minister’s expectations for standards of ministerial behaviour and personal conduct – the code also applies to the First Minister.

“I have listened to those who have called for an independent referral process to be available in circumstances where it is felt the First Minister requires a source of external and independent advice.

“As such, the Ministerial Code has been amended to allow for such referrals to be made to an independent adviser.

“The First Minister may ask an independent adviser to provide him with advice on which to base his judgement about any action required in respect of ministerial conduct and that the adviser’s findings will be published.

“The code does not prescribe the scope, format or conduct of any inquiry the adviser may be asked to undertake. It is for the adviser to determine how to act upon matters referred by the First Minister.

“Over the coming weeks, a panel of advisers will be appointed to undertake this work individually or collectively.

“I have agreed ... to accept an immediate referral from me in relation to allegations made in the last two weeks that I breached the Ministerial Code.”

In response, a Plaid Cymru spokesman said: “This is long overdue. It is regrettable that the Labour government has had to take this decision reactively instead of being proactive”

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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