(Title Image: via Senedd)
Before this afternoon’s plenary session, the Llywydd and the Chair of the Standards Committee issued statements on the resignation of the former Standards Commissioner after it was revealed he and his staff had been secretly recorded by Neil McEvoy AM (Ind, South Wales Central). The recordings included embarrassing conversations which are described as “politically incorrect“.
Breach of trust
The Llywydd, Elin Jones AM (Plaid, Ceredigion), said cover recordings of this kind were “a breach of trust” and she confirmed that the recordings included confidential evidence being given as part of an investigation into a complaint against McEvoy himself. BBC Wales reports that McEvoy is under investigation for two potential counts of misuse of Assembly funds relating to office expenditure and one of aggressive behaviour towards Mick Antoniw AM (Lab, Pontypridd).
The Llywydd also confirmed that the appointments process for a new Standards Commissioner has started and steps will be taken to ensure that information now in the public domain but “obtained through interference” will be protected.
Describing the incident as “a serious matter”, the Llywydd announced she will make a complaint to the new Standards Commissioner regarding the use of covert recording devices and the release of confidential information.
Standards Commissioner system “approved by all AMs”
Chair of the Standards Committee, Jayne Bryant AM (Lab, Newport West) said the creation of the post of an independent Standards Commissioner had the backing of all AMs during the Third Assembly.
“An effective standards regime cannot function without integrity and trust from all those involved in the system and process. And I would like to remind all Members of our need to maintain confidence in this independent system.”
– Chair of the Standards Committee, Jayne Bryant
The Llywydd turned down several requests to speak on the matter, believing the reputation of the Senedd was best upheld by continuing with tabled business as usual.