Jones defends not sacking minister for breaching code

Alun Davies and Carwyn Jones Alun Davies watches Carwyn Jones defend his decision not to sack him

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First Minister Carwyn Jones has defended his decision not to sack his environment minister for lobbying for a new race track in his constituency.

Mr Jones said Alun Davies could have been clearer he was writing to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as a constituency AM, not as a minister.

But he stressed the environment body was not influenced by Mr Davies.

On Tuesday, the first minister agreed it was clear Mr Davies had broken guidelines on how ministers should act.

NRW initially objected to the £280m Circuit of Wales scheme, near Ebbw Vale in Mr Davies's Blaenau Gwent constituency, but later said its concerns had been addressed.

An inquiry into whether the actions by Mr Davies had breached the Ministerial Code was conducted by Permanent Secretary Sir Derek Jones.

It looked at whether a letter he wrote to NRW conflicted with his ministerial role, which includes oversight of the body.

Conservative AM Antoinette Sandbach argued Mr Davies could not have communicated with the developers other than in his capacity as a minister.

Mr Jones told AMs the fact that the email was sent from his assembly member account showed that he was speaking to them in his capacity as a constituency AM.

'Credibility'

Plaid AM Simon Thomas insisted Mr Davies's ministerial position was becoming untenable.

"I cannot see how the natural resources minister can continue in his job after the publication of this damning report," he said.

"The difficulty now is that the continuing questions on the minister's behaviour undermine his credibility with environmental groups and the wider public and demonstrate the first minister's inability to control the actions of his own ministers."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said Mr Davies "should have done the honourable thing and resigned".

"As that hasn't happened, the first minister must take swift action to remove him from his position," she said.

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