Four key Vaughan Gething donation questions the Labour Party won't answer

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething during a visit to the Port of Holyhead
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and new Welsh First Minister Vaughan Gething during a visit to the Port of Holyhead -Credit:PA

Welsh and UK Labour have refused to answer vital questions about the £200,000 donation that First Minister Vaughan Gething accepted from a man convicted of environmental offences. The row over the donation has overshadowed the first few months of Mr Gething's leadership.

During his campaign to become leader against Jeremy Miles he took £200,000 from a company called Dauson Environmental Group - whose owner David Neal was given a suspended prison sentence in 2013 for illegally dumping waste on a conservation site. Mr Gething repeatedly lobbied for that company and on the same day they made the donation to him they also put in an application to build a solar farm which will require Welsh Government approval.

Just 11 months before the donation was made, Dauson was given a £400,000 loan by the Welsh Government-owned Development Bank of Wales. Mr Gething was the economy minister at the time the loan was granted. Any money left over from Mr Gething's campaign will be donated to the Labour Party.

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Some within the party have expressed concern about the money being used to fund Labour Party operations. WalesOnline understands that the final left over money will have to be given to the Labour Party by mid May. For more journalism like this sign up to the Will Hayward newsletter.

However there remains big questions over where the money will actually go. Labour sources have told WalesOnline that the money won't be going to UK Labour but instead will be sent to Welsh Labour (thereby meaning Sir Keir Starmer won't have the PR headache about whether to accept it).

But this raises further questions because it's understood there is no separate Welsh Labour bank account. To try and get some clarity WalesOnline approached both UK and Welsh Labour and asked the following questions:

1. What is the deadline for the respective campaigns to return the money raised from donations to the Labour Party?

2. Will the money be going to the UK Labour Party or Welsh Labour?

3. If the answer to the above is "UK Labour", who makes the final decision on whether to accept the money?

4. If the answer is "Welsh Labour" then can you please explain how that will work? As we understand it there is no Welsh Labour bank account. Will this money go to UK Labour and then be allocated to Welsh Labour?

Despite repeated approaches both UK and Welsh Labour have refused to respond to these questions. There is now vocal opposition to the donation within the Labour group in the Senedd.

Last week former minister Lee Waters said: "I’ve been struggling to process my feelings about the issues before us today and this is a speech I would rather have avoided. Immediately on the news of the donation coming out I said it was unjustifiable and wrong and I have not changed my view. £200,000 is a staggering amount of money – unprecedented in Welsh politics and over four times larger than the £45,000 spending cap that the Labour Party set to ensure a fair contest.

"And the fact it came from a waste company with a conviction for damaging the Gwent Levels at a time when some of us were fighting hard to protect the sensitive area really shocked me, genuinely. The First Minister has said the donations to his campaign were checked and filed properly with the Electoral Commission and declared to the Senedd and that there is no case to answer.

Wales First Minister Vaughan Gething in the Senedd
Wales First Minister Vaughan Gething in the Senedd -Credit:Senedd TV

"But the issue is not whether the paperwork was correct – it’s whether the judgement was correct. I welcome the appointment of Carwyn Jones to look at the rules for future elections. The suggestion in Plaid’s motion of a spending cap for each of us is worthy of consideration but to agree to it today would prejudge the review.

"The Conservative motion is based on a false premise. Decisions on loans from the development bank are made at arm’s length precisely to avoid conflicts of interest.”

Mr Gething maintains he declared all donations correctly and did not break any rules.