Huge sum Vaughan Gething spent in his fight to be Wales' new First Minister revealed

Vaughan Gething, photographed after being elected as the next Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of Wales
Vaughan Gething, photographed after being elected as the next Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of Wales -Credit:PA Wire/PA Images

The amount Vaughan Gething spent in his leadership campaign to be Welsh Labour leader can now be revealed. Mr Gething spent £222,964. He became Welsh Labour leader on March 16, and was subsequently elected FIrst Minister of Wales.

In total, the two candidates raised more than £300,000 during the campaign. Mr Gething received £254,600. He has £31,636 remaining, meaning he spent £222,964, almost three times more than his rival, Jeremy Miles. Mr Miles received £58,800 in total and confirmed to BBC Radio Wales today that he spent all that money.

Mr Gething controversially received two £100,000 donations from a businesses run by a man, David Neal, who has been convicted of environmental offences. He has since repeatedly refused to return the money and the first two months of his leadership have been dogged with anger and unhappiness from across the political spectrum.

Mr Gething says he has declared all donations correctly, and has no questions to answer about influence on his leadership as a result of Mr Neal's donations.

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Dauson Environmental, run by David Neal, gave Mr Gething £200,000, a huge amount in Welsh political terms, in support of his campaign. The company, it emerged, is applying for permission to build a solar farm on a site which requires Welsh Government permission and has received a £400,000 loan from Development Bank Wales, which is funded by Welsh Government. Mr Gething maintains he declared all donations correctly and did not break any rules and that Mr Neal will not have any ability to influence decisions about matters that impact his businesses.

Under Electoral Commission rules, the unspent £31,636 from Mr Gething's campaign should now be donated to the Labour Party, which will face a difficult decision about whether to accept money that originated from a convicted environmental offender. We have asked both Welsh and UK Labour to explain their decision to accept the money. We understand from a campaign source Mr Gething wants the money ringfenced to support diversity in new candidates.

Mr Gething was publicly criticised by one of his own MSs, Lee Waters, who told him to return the money. Mr Waters told the Senedd chamber on May 2: “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. 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.” For the latest politics news in Wales sign up to our newsletter here.

He has also faced votes tabled by opposition parties that there should be both an independent investigation, and a future cap on donations.

Plaid Cymru Senedd Member, Heledd Fychan MS said in response to the figure released today. "This sorry episode has marred the First Minister’s first few months in office at a time when Wales’s schools and hospitals are facing huge challenges and need a Leader focused on the job.

"Unless Vaughan Gething does the right thing today and commits to returning the donation in full, serious and justified questions about his judgement won’t go away any time soon.

"The UK Labour Party must also show some moral leadership and return the money. Failure to do so will mean that every General Election candidate in Wales will be funded by questionable money and it also means that Keir Starmer’s big announcement today about Labour being the party of change will be nothing but hollow words."