Welsh First Minister facing calls for independent donation investigation

The First Minister of Wales is facing growing calls for an independent investigation into a controversial £200,000 donation he accepted while campaigning to be Welsh Labour leader.

Senior Conservative and Plaid Cymru members of the Senedd have criticised Vaughan Gething’s decision to accept a sizeable donation from a company owned by a man who has been prosecuted for environmental offences.

The leaders of the parties are now calling for an independent investigation into the issue, after revelations that the Development Bank of Wales – which is owned by the Welsh Government – had loaned the company £400,000.

Plaid Cymru new leader
Rhun ap Iorwerth, leader of Plaid Cymru said the controversial donation was a ‘matter of utmost seriousness’ (Plaid Cymru/PA)

It also follows Mr Gething’s competitor in the race for First Minister, Jeremy Miles, admitting on Sunday that he would not have taken the money.

The loan was given to Neal Soil Suppliers – a subsidiary of the Dauson Environmental Group which donated to Mr Gething – in 2023 to help purchase a solar farm.

David Neal, who owns Dauson, has twice been convicted of environmental offences.

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the leader of Plaid, and Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, have called for an independent investigation to be carried out.

Mr ap Iorwerth has written to the Welsh Government’s permanent secretary, Andrew Goodall, raising “serious concerns” about the transparency and propriety of the donation.

Farmer protests
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, is also calling for an independent investigation to be carried out (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

“Mr Drakeford also said that the ministerial code does not govern the process for the receipt of donations to Senedd members.

“You will be aware however of reports over the weekend that Dauson Environmental Group Ltd, who donated £200,000 to Vaughan Gething’s campaign, are in debt to the Development Bank of Wales – a bank wholly owned by the Welsh Government.

“It is clear that this matter has now gone beyond donations to Senedd members. It strikes at the heart of government operations, and the relationship between ministers and private individuals.

“I have little confidence that Mr Gething will investigate his own behaviour.

“Whilst the code says that it is not the role of the Permanent Secretary or other officials to enforce the code, I believe this is a matter of the utmost seriousness and one where it would be totally unacceptable for the First Minister to act as judge and jury on his own behaviour.”

Vaughan Gething, at Cardiff University, after being elected as the next Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of Wales
Mr Gething and his team have repeatedly rejected calls to pay back the money (Ben Birchall/PA)

“It’s time to bring in an independent adviser to look into this donation so those questions can be answered.”

Asked for a comment, a Welsh Government spokesman said the Plaid Cymru’s leader would “receive a response to his letter in the usual manner”.

Mr Gething and his team have repeatedly rejected calls to pay back the money, insisting the donation was declared in line with Senedd and Electoral Commission rules and that he is committed to transparency.

Dauson has been contacted for comment.

In a statement to the BBC, Dauson insisted the loan had not been used to contribute to the donation to Mr Gething and had been to “support economic growth”.

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