Did First Minister Carwyn Jones mislead the Assembly?

By Conor Holohan

In November 2014, Darren Millar AM of the Welsh Conservatives asked Carwyn Jones if the First Minister had received any complaints regarding bullying by special advisers.

At the time, the First Minister told the Assembly that no allegations of bullying had been made.

However, this month in First Minister’s Questions, when Andrew RT Davies asked if the First Minister had dealt with the allegations Mr Millar had eluded to in 2014, Jones gave a response that was in conflict with his response in 2014.

The First Minister told the leader of the Welsh Conservatives that ‘any issues that were brought to my attention at the time were dealt with’.

This response from Mr Jones would suggest that he did indeed recieve complaints of bullying back in 2014, despite telling the Assembly otherwise.

Following this contradictory utterance, RT Davies called upon the First Minister to set up an independent investigation of the matter, similar to the one set up by Alex Salmond in 2012.

The subject of bullying in the Welsh Government has come to the forefront again this year following the death of former Cabinet Secretary Carl Sargeant.

Mr Jones has come under criticism from across the political spectrum for his handling of the sitation surrounding Carl Sargeant. The leader of UKIP in Wales, Neil Hamilton, called upon the First Minister to resign.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn was ambiguous as to whether he thought the First Minister should stay on.

As the story snowballed, ex-Minister Leighton Andrews and former government advisor Steve Jones went to the press saying that the last Welsh Government had a ‘toxic’ atmosphere, characterised by bullying.

The First Minister has this week, in line with the suggestions made by Andrew RT Davies, subjected himself to an independent investigation of the matter and has established an independent body tasked with the job of policing the Ministerial Code.

Next week, Jones will face a vote in the Chamber on whether he should be forced to sit before a committee of AMs and answer questions surrounding the matter.

According to the BBC, Welsh Government sources are hoping that the actions taken this week to investigate the matters will persuade Assembly Members not to vote in favour of questioning the First Minister in this way.