Lobbying firm said Sargeant was being sacked, says Davies

By Nick Servini
Political editor, Wales

  • Published
Carl Sargeant
Image caption,
Carl Sargeant was sacked as communities secretary last November

The Welsh Tory leader has said the Welsh government's leak inquiry was told that a lobbying company informed journalists the ex-minister Carl Sargeant was going to lose his job before a reshuffle.

Andrew RT Davies told AMs the firm, Deryn, provided the information.

Opposition AMs called for the inquiry to be published during a debate.

The inquiry, by a senior civil servant, found "no evidence of prior unauthorised sharing of information".

The contents of the report have not been made public.

Mr Davies's Conservative colleague, Darren Millar, said assembly members had been kept in the dark about the inquiry and called for Permanent Secretary Shan Morgan, Wales' most senior civil servant, to speak to them.

He said: "I have to say it was very discourteous of the permanent secretary to make statements on the outcome of her work without actually presenting a formal statement to the national assembly.

"We had to read about the outcome of this in media reports. I am sorry, I do not think that is acceptable."

Image caption,
Andrew RT Davies called for the inquiry report to be published

Replying for the Welsh Government, Julie James said the contents of the report would be made available to a QC who was looking into the circumstances surrounding Mr Sargeant's sacking.

She said: "If a leak report were to be published this could prejudice future leak inquiries by undermining confidence in the process of the investigation and individuals being less prepared to provide evidence."

The Welsh Government lost a non-binding vote in the Senedd calling for the inquiry to be made public after Labour AMs abstained.

Ms Morgan's investigation looked into whether the decision to sack the former minister was leaked.

His body was found a few days later. It is thought he took his own life following allegations that he had behaved inappropriately towards a number of women.

Image caption,
Julie James said publishing the leak inquiry report would prejudice future investigations

Mr Davies said the leak inquiry had been given evidence from "a leading figure from a previous government" that a Deryn employee had sent a text to journalists "well before the reshuffle announcement stating that Carl Sargeant was to lose his job".

Mr Davies also spoke of a tweet from the journalist revealing a tipoff about the job loss.

He went on to say that the Labour AM Lee Waters had also received a text saying the same from an unspecified source.

Mr Waters told AMs he believed that had been gossip and went on to say that even a redacted version poses a risk that the anonymity of the women who had made the complaints would be jeopardised.

He said: "The women have been forgotten in all this.

"We will never be able to fairly test their allegations. That is neither fair on them, nor on Carl.

"But at the very least let's not make the situation worse by directly, or indirectly, threatening their right to anonymity.

"This whole tragedy has become the subject of political game-playing. And I want no part in it."

A spokeswoman for Deryn said: "We are pleased that we have received a partial apology from BBC Wales relating to how this story was generated."

A BBC Wales spokesman said: "We can confirm that Deryn has received an apology because a BBC reporter inappropriately shared confidential information with a third party."