Thursday 2 May 2024


David Neal and Vaughan Gething: The convict and the politician

With Humza Yousaf on his way from power after just 13 months, attention has quickly refocused on Britain's other first minister.  Vaughan Gething has been at the Cymreig helm for just six weeks and an issue which dogged his leadership election campaign is being brought to the fore once again.

Gething received two hefty donations during that campaign, totalling £200,000, from a company run by convicted criminal David Neal.  Gething had previous dealings with Neal and his then company - Atlantic Recycling - dating back to at least 2016 when he was a Welsh government minister.  Neal had been convicted of illegally dumping waste on a conservation site in 2013 and ordered to clean up the mess, but Gething later repeatedly lobbied Wales' environmental regulator to suspend work on that site.

Neal was convicted again in 2017 for failing to clean up the site and Gething stepped in again a year later, writing to Natural Resources Wales on Neal's behalf.  Gething also stood for the Welsh Labour leadership later that same year and received a £38,000 donation from companies linked to Neal.  Something stinks, and it's not just David Neal's fly tipping!

Things are now complicated further by a planning application that has been put in by another of Mr Neal's ventures - Dauson Environmental Group.  It was in Dauson's name that the most recent donations of £200,000 were made to Gething's leadership campaign.  The size of the planning application, which is for a 'solar farm', would require Welsh government approval and as we know - Mr Gething is now the most senior figure in said government.  What's more, the money to fund the purchase of the site came from the Development Bank of Wales - a public body overseen at that time by none other than the Welsh minister for the economy, one Vaughan Gething!

With an obvious conflict of interest and a stench of corruption, the Welsh Conservatives tabled a debate in the Senedd that took place on Wednesday.  However, there was a notable absentee from said debate - the First Minister and the person at the centre of the debate no less!

Watch below as Tory leader Andrew RT Davies opens the debate by asking whether they 'should wait for the First Minister'.  He then reacts with dismay as he is told that Gething has not even provided a statement, much less actually show his face.

This is not the behaviour of a political leader responsible for governing a nation.  By refusing to attend and take responsibility for his actions, Gething has portrayed himself as a coward with something to hide.

During the debate, Gething was heavily criticised by one of his own colleagues.  Lee Waters remarked: "For me, this is not an issue of confidence, but it is an issue of conscience.  We look to our leaders to model behaviour we want to see, to reflect our nation and to set an example.  The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem.  And it would not be a sign of weakness to say that it was a mistake to take the donation and, now all the facts are known, to give it back."

Waters is well known throughout Wales as the main architect of the despised anti-motorist 20mph scheme, so his diatribe in this instance did not carry the weight he may have hoped.  In any case, the Tory motion was defeated by 27 votes to 25.  Gething finally appeared in the dying minutes of the debate and did not speak.

Gething will face questions about his dealings with David Neal and it could yet prove his downfall.

No comments:

Post a Comment