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Has the First Minister admitted to breaching Ministerial Code?

The First Minister’s use of a government mobile phone has been called into question by Welsh Conservative leader, Andrew RT Davies – with Carwyn Jones potentially admitting he has broken the Ministerial Code.

 

In an answer to a Written Assembly Question, Carwyn Jones, refused to answer whether he has ever used a government-issued, taxpayer-funded mobile phone to conduct Labour Party business.

 

The question asked:

 

Andrew R.T. Davies (South Wales Central): Has the First Minister ever used a government-issued phone to communicate about Labour Party matters with Ministers, special advisers or Labour Party officials? WAQ75919

 

Andrew R.T. Davies (South Wales Central): Does the First Minister ever conduct government business from a personal phone? WAQ75921

 

Carwyn Jones: I do not possess a personal mobile phone.

 

The failure to answer the question means that it can be reasonably assumed that the First Minister conducts Labour Party and/or personal business from a government-issued, taxpayer-funded phone. This story follows yesterday’s revelation that a Welsh Government special adviser has potentially broken their respective code of conduct by briefing on behalf of the Welsh Labour Party in another taxpayer-funded role.

 

Andrew RT Davies, has today written to Carwyn Jones asking for immediate clarity – and if this is not forthcoming – for the matter to be referred to the newly appointed independent adviser on the Ministerial Code, James Hamilton.

 

The text of the letter from the Welsh Conservative leader to the First Minister is provided below:

 

Mr Davies writes:

 

Dear Carwyn,

 

I write in relation to the answer I received yesterday to Written Assembly Question number 75919.

 

As you’ll be aware, your answer does not directly respond to the question posed. Given the failure to answer such a straightforward question, it leaves the presumption that you conduct or have conducted Labour Party and/or personal business from a government-issued, taxpayer-funded phone.

 

I would therefore appreciate some urgent clarity regarding this matter, particularly in wake of yesterday’s revelation that one of your Special Advisers has potentially broken their respective code of conduct by briefing on behalf of the Welsh Labour Party in another taxpayer-funded role.

 

If you do conduct Labour Party and/or personal business using a government phone this would have serious consequence and would be contrary to various sections of the Welsh Government’s Ministerial Code.

 

The sections I refer to can be found below where the code clearly states:

 

1.1 ix) – Ministers must not use the Welsh Government’s resources for party-political purposes.

 

4.1 – Ministers are provided with facilities at the Welsh Government’s expense to enable them to carry out their official duties. These facilities should not generally be used for Party or constituency activities.

 

4.2 – Government property should not generally be used for constituency work or party political activities.

 

Given the ongoing inquiries and questions regarding the conduct of you and others in the Welsh Government, I believe clarity on this matter should be immediately forthcoming.

 

If you have or are using a government mobile phone to conduct party and/or personal business this would be in breach of the Ministerial Code and I would therefore ask you to refer this matter for potential investigation to the newly appointed Independent Adviser on the Ministerial Code, Mr James Hamilton.

 

Kind regards,

 

Andrew RT Davies AM

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives