A highly experienced former special adviser to Welsh Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones has revealed the “toxic” culture of bullying and “mind-games” which is apparently endemic in the Welsh Labour Government.
The revelations come from Mr Steve Jones, who was special adviser to Carwyn Jones until 2014 and who has been talking in detail to Martin Shipton at MediaWales about the atmosphere at the heart of Labour’s chaotic Welsh Government.
A picture emerges of a hapless and inadequate First Minister who is in thrall to the battalion of Labour Party political aides, and who is said to be “unwilling or unable” to deal with the endemic “bullying culture” which prevails in his own private office.
Mr Steve Jones, says the atmosphere is what he describes as “pure poison” – in which Welsh Government ministers are “persistently undermined by senior advisers playing power games”.
[PDN Note: As previously reported, children’s minister Carl Sargeant was last week driven to commit suicide just 4 days after being sacked by Carwyn Jones. Mr Sargeant died without ever being given the details of the possibly false or exaggerated allegations being made against him. It’s been revealed today that he had hanged himself]
The Conservatives in the Welsh Assembly now say evidence is emerging that, in peremptorily sacking Mr Sargeant, First Minister Carwyn Jones has broken the Ministerial Code which requires that ministers of the Crown who face such allegations to should remain in office until those allegations are either proved or dismissed .
Mr Sargeant’s family solicitor said last week that his client had only been told that the “allegations” against his client were what was described as “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” – but no specifics had been given .
The alleged “complaints” against Mr Sargeant were said to have been made by 3 women – apparently acting in concert – but none of those complaints had been deemed serious enough to be referred to the police. As Mr Sargeant is now dead, the Labour Party has said it cannot proceed with its investigation.
The inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death was officially opened today. The coroner John Gittins said it was “an apparent act of self harm” and that he would carefully examine “the steps taken by the Assembly to have regard to Mr Sargeant’s mental welfare prior to his death”.
Over the weekend Labour AMs evaded questions about the alleged bullying culture in the First Minister’s office.
In a Radio Wales interview Vaughan Gething – the Labour AM for Cardiff South and Penarth pointedly refused to answer any questions on the issue of the propriety or otherwise of the First Minister’s actions.
He only volunteered more generalised, opaque and vague answers to questions about the Carl Sargeant tragedy and the calls for an inquiry – and he persisted in resorting to the need for what he called a “line of communication with the family” [i.e. Carl Sargeant’s family] . One analyst said this appeared to be a completely bogus line of argument – and seemed to be being deployed to deflect questions about the key issue – the conduct of public affairs in the Welsh Labour Government.
Gething also skirted questions about whether Carwyn Jones should resign by saying “No one’s asked me anything about Carwyn’s future. I’m certainly not getting into any speculation. I don’t think that [i.e. resignation] is going to happen. I don’t think there’s any real chance of it happening at all” .
An independent inquiry – to be headed by a QC – is now to investigate how the beleaguered First Minister, Carwyn Jones, dealt with the Carl Sargeant case, but as yet it has not been decided when this will begin, or who will chair it – and it may be delayed until after the inquest is completed.
Carwyn Jones’s former media adviser Mr Steve Jones meanwhile has described the First Minister’s office as a “toxic environment” in which the prevailing atmosphere was one of ” fear and loathing”.
Mr Steve Jones’s searing revelations about the bullying culture in Carwyn Jones’s office are supported by blog comments made by the former Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews who referred to “minor bullying, mind games, power games, favouritism, inconsistency of treatment to different ministers and deliberate personal undermining”.
Mr Andrews said that 4 ministers confronted Carwyn Jones about the bullying issue – but the First Minister had done nothing about it .
Media Wales quotes a spokesman for the Welsh Conservatives as saying “This incredibly brave and detailed account put forward by Carwyn Jones’ s former Special Adviser raises yet more questions for the First Minister and the culture he has willingly overseen whilst in government. Taken in association with the accusations put forward by Leighton Andrews – a former Welsh Government Cabinet Minister – there is a substantial body of evidence building which suggests Carwyn Jones has broken the Ministerial Code.”