The First Minister has rejected the opportunity to confirm that he did not authorise any briefing or sharing of information before his cabinet reshuffle in November.
Last week, a report undertaken by the Permanent Secretary found ‘no leak’ of the Welsh Government reshuffle had taken place, despite evidence of many individuals in the media and political arena having knowledge of the various sackings, promotions and portfolio changes.
The language chosen by Carwyn Jones and Permanent Secretary in various statements has potentially implied ‘authorised briefing or sharing of information’ had taken place.
In a straightforward written question to the First Minister (attached), Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies asked:
‘In light of his comments in First Minister's questions on 30 January 2018, will the First Minister confirm that there was no authorised or unauthorised briefing or sharing of information before the cabinet reshuffle on 3 November 2017?’
Rather than directly answering the question, Carwyn Jones stated: ‘As the Permanent Secretary’s statement made clear, there was no leak.’
Andrew RT Davies has therefore submitted a topical question today for consideration by the Presiding Officer in the quest to obtain clarity over whether Carwyn Jones did indeed authorise pre-briefing of his reshuffle to take place. Commenting on the latest development, Andrew RT said:
“The First Minister’s refusal to answer simple and straightforward questions just adds to the murkiness of his recent actions.
“Last week, he refused to publish the report into the leak investigation but this latest development makes that position untenable.
“If Carwyn Jones has nothing to hide then there is no reason why he cannot allow for the publication of a redacted version of the inquiry report, so that Assembly Members of all stripes can decide for themselves whether there’s a case to answer for here.
“We know a number of prominent individuals were aware of the details of the reshuffle before the cabinet members were themselves informed so the fact Carwyn Jones claims the leak inquiry allegedly found no evidence of this sharing information is most questionable.
“This slippery and shoddy approach to answering questions on a highly emotive subject can only lead to the impression that they are trying to prevent significant information from being disclosed.
“A redacted report, protecting the identity of individuals who have given evidence, must be published immediately. Nothing else will suffice.”
Notes to editors:
What we already know:
Information readily available on social media points to the fact that a number of people outside the Welsh Government had prior knowledge of November’s reshuffle.
According to WalesOnline, a number of individuals were provided with information that Carl Sargeant was to lose his job in the cabinet reshuffle:
- A Labour AM told the Labour Assembly Group meeting on November 9 that he had been texted by someone he regarded as a reliable source that Carl was to lose his job.
- A leading Welsh journalist received a text in advance of the reshuffle being announced that Carl was to be sacked.
- A Welsh Labour MP told another Welsh Labour MP that Carl was to lose his job, before the reshuffle was announced.
Andrew RT Davies’ topical question which has been submitted today to the Presiding Officer:
Will the First Minister confirm if any authorised briefing took place before the cabinet reshuffle in November 2017, given the lack of details provided in response to a written question on this matter?
The written question (WAQ 75795) received yesterday by Andrew RT Davies can be found attached.