The Hamilton Inquiry

The Hamilton report is the expected whitewash. It is partial, inconsistent, contradictory and ignores evidence from a number of witnesses.

This should be no surprise, because the Hamilton inquiry was flawed from the beginning.

First, it was misrepresented by some as an inquiry into bullying. It wasn’t an inquiry into bullying, as Mr Hamilton himself states in paragraph 7. It was a narrowly-drawn inquiry into whether or not the First Minister misled the Assembly on two named dates.

I have tapes and transcripts of my interviews with Mr Hamilton. When I met him on 8 February Mr Hamilton told me that he couldn’t ‘make a finding about a substantive complaint of bullying’ and that his concern was ‘simply to record whether there were allegations or not on the relevant dates.’

Second, at the outset Mr Hamilton was unable to give witnesses any assurances about confidentiality. I wrote to him on 17 December asking whether he could give assurances to witnesses who feared repercussions. In his reply to me on 22 December, he made it clear that he was not able to give such assurances.

As a result of that, several witnesses felt uncomfortable about giving evidence, as the BBC reported in January.

Some of these people were never even contacted by Mr Hamilton. Separately, according to paragraph 46 of Mr Hamilton’s report, one Minister who could have given evidence did not do so. I am aware of at least four people who could have given relevant evidence but did not wish to do so because of the framing of the Inquiry or the failure to give assurances about protection of witnesses’ identities or their evidence. I am also aware of people who were told that their evidence was unnecessary or not likely to be relevant.

At least one potential witness declined to give evidence to Mr. Hamilton as a direct result of clear failures by the inquiry to uphold a public guarantee made by the Permanent Secretary, to provide “safeguards to ensure due separation”

I made it clear to the BBC last December that my complaint about the conduct of the chief special adviser to the First Minister was not about bullying – Mr Hamilton was aware of this.

There is no question that several Ministers raised concerns about the conduct of a special adviser prior to 11 November 2014. Matt Greenough, one of the First Minister’s special advisers, was aware that we wished to discuss these issues with the First Minister. Matt texted me on 14 October 2014 making it clear that he had told the First Minister that we wished to raise these issues with him.

My contemporaneous diary notes, supplied to Mr Hamilton, explicitly challenge the version of events given by Mr Greenough and the First Minister in paragraph 35 and this text from Mr Greenough confirms my version:

IMG_7869

I have contemporaneous diary notes documenting my conversations with Matt Greenough and with the First Minister. Mr Hamilton told me that I was the only witness with contemporaneous notes, and told me ’I suppose it shows the wisdom of you keeping your diary’.

I asked the First Minister on 19 November 2014 for a formal inquiry into whether or not his chief special adviser had breached the code of conduct for special advisers. My complaint was specific and limited to the issue set out in paragraph 37 of Mr Hamilton’s report, as I have always said. It was not about bullying and I did not suggest that it was. I did not raise any other issues at that time.

Reluctantly, the First Minister agreed to a formal investigation and told me that the head of the Delivery Unit, Marion Stapleton, would carry out this inquiry. I had taken a letter setting out my complaint with me. I asked the First Minister if he wanted anything in writing from me, and he said he did not. At the time I took that in good faith.

When I asked the First Minister on 4 February 2015 what had happened to the Inquiry, he told me ‘Marion found nothing.’ He sent me the following text later that day:

IMG_1241

All of these matters are recorded in my diary.

I heard no more.

I now know, from Written Answers and from a Freedom of Information request I submitted in 2017, that the First Minister never asked Ms Stapleton to carry out any such inquiry, despite what he told me on 19 November 2014 and 4 February 2015 in meetings, and on 4 February 2015 by text. I had sincerely believed at the time that the First Minister had commissioned her to do this, and I was shocked when I discovered in December 2017 that he had not.

I supplied Mr Hamilton with the text above from the First Minister to me. I am surprised that no reference is made to this in his report. I have therefore set out the evidence here and  leave it to others to judge whether the First Minister deliberately misled me in 2014 and 2015 when I was a serving member of his Cabinet.

I need to comment explicitly on some points of detail made in Mr Hamilton’s report. In paragraph 39, Mr Hamilton says my ‘failure to hand over’ on 19 November the letter of complaint I had drafted ‘is difficult to understand.’ This wholly contradicts what Mr Hamilton said to me on 8 February. When I met Mr Hamilton on 8 February, he told me ‘I can understand why you didn’t’.

In paragraph 40 Mr Hamilton fails to mention that I have documentary evidence that I put the chief special adviser’s statement to me that Carl Sargeant had ignored legal advice on the Gender-based Violence Bill on 12 September 2014 directly to Carl on that very day in the form of a text message to him. Carl responded robustly making it clear that the statement was untrue. In respect of paragraph 41 I did not claim that these remarks were bullying. My complaint was limited and precise.

In paragraph 45 Mr Hamilton refers to a witness who asserted that he had raised concerns about bullying with the First Minister, but these claims were disputed by the First Minister. The witness is known to me. That witness gave written evidence, with dates of conversations with the First Minister, and also supplied Mr Hamilton with an email he had sent to the First Minister. Mr Hamilton makes no reference to this email.

In paragraph 47 Mr Hamilton refers to a ‘small number of friends or associates of the late Mr Sargeant.’ Elsewhere in paragraph 21 Mr Hamilton says that he interviewed 23 people. I am personally aware of at least 10 witnesses who gave verbal evidence to Mr Hamilton who could be referred to as friends of Carl Sargeant. I am aware of two others who had written communication with Mr Hamilton but did not give verbal evidence. 10 out of 23 – or 12 out of 25 – is not ‘a small number’. A leading Welsh journalist made it clear in November 2017 that he had been made aware in 2014 of complaints of bullying within Welsh Government. His evidence is ignored by Mr Hamilton. Evidence from a former civil servant that Mr Sargeant had been ‘constantly monitored and micro-managed’ is ignored by Mr Hamilton.

In paragraph 61 Mr Hamilton takes at face value the claim by the First Minister that when he said in the Chamber on 14 November 2017 issues brought to his attention had been ‘dealt with’ he meant issues ‘which arose from time to time involving disagreements between Ministers’. I do not agree that these issues were disagreements which from time to time happen between ministers. They were not issues between ministers. They were issues about the treatment of advisers and ministers. As I told Mr Hamilton, I did not regard those issues as having been dealt with. I am aware that evidence was given that Carl Sargeant did not believe that they had been dealt with either. I pointed out to Mr Hamilton that in a series of answers to Opposition Assembly Members arising from this the First Minister said that such issues were matters for the Independent Adviser’s Inquiry. Mr Hamilton told me, in respect  of the First Minister’s answers, ‘to some extent, what he did was kick into touch I suppose, in a number of those sessions’. I do not believe that these issues have been adequately addressed by Mr Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton appears to have nothing to say about the documentary evidence I provided to him about my conversation and text exchange with the First Minister on 4 February 2015 to which I refer above.

I stand by my previous statements – confirmed by others – that at times in the 2011-16 Assembly there was a toxic atmosphere on the Fifth Floor and that Mr Sargeant and certain other Ministers were subject to persistent personal undermining: indeed, during 2018 I have subsequently learned that the undermining of certain Ministers, including myself, was more extensive than I thought at the time.

It is odd that, having stated that he was not tasked with testing whether there was a substantive case about bullying, Mr Hamilton then goes on to state that there was no substantive evidence of bullying or persistent personal undermining given to him. As he said, this was not an inquiry into bullying. Had it been, then more substantive examples could have been given, including by people who declined to give evidence. I have been told that some people had given evidence about being bullied but this does not appear in Mr Hamilton’s report. In my evidence, I told Mr Hamilton that I had been made aware of a series of complaints that any inquiry into bullying would have to look into, including  breaches of employment practices and equal pay laws.

The Hamilton Inquiry was a narrowly-drawn investigation into whether or not the First Minister had misled the Assembly by his statements on two specific dates. I am not surprised at the conclusion. The Terms of Reference given to Mr Hamilton were designed and framed with one objective – to allow the First Minister to gain time for himself, or in Mr Hamilton’s vernacular, to ‘kick into touch’.

All of this makes it clear how important are the Terms of Reference for the QC-led Independent Inquiry which has yet to commence.

Response to the BBC

BBC Wales is recycling an old attack on me as though it’s news. I may be on the picket-line when it goes up and I don’t know if they will use my full quote, so here it is:

There is a deliberate campaign to undermine me and others who have spoken up in support of Carl Sargeant. It is deeply malicious and yet more evidence of the bullying culture practised by certain people within the Welsh Government and their friends outside the Welsh Government over recent years. Carl was a target of this, and so were other Ministers, including some still serving in government. I warned two weeks ago that further attacks on me were being prepared. There has been a desperate trawl to find ways to undermine my reputation. People have told me that the individual coordinating the attacks on me and others has close links to Welsh Labour and the Welsh Government.
The re-cycling of Councillor Lewis’s complaints from five years ago is laughable. I responded to Councillor Lewis’s complaints in a BBC television interview in August 2013 which is still available on the BBC website.  I’m sorry if Councillor Lewis is still  bitter that the governance of the WJEC was re-structured by Council Leaders in Wales, resulting in the appointment of a new Chair. I set out the full background to all this in my book, Ministering to Education, on pages 182-184. I reject Councillor Lewis’s account and I stand by my actions at the time which led to the creation of Qualifications Wales.
As far as the FoI is concerned, I have nothing further to add to what has been said by the Welsh Government.

Remembering the Violence against Women Act on International Women’s Day.

CarlThe Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015, was really the legacy of our friend, Carl Sargeant, although it fell to me to take the Bill through the Assembly. As the Assembly’s official note of the Bill’s passage makes clear,  I took over the Bill on coming back into government on the 12th September 2014.

I had served on the Assembly’s Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee which had started its examination of the Bill. I knew from the evidence coming in that there was a lot of unhappiness at the content of the Bill at that stage. I also knew that Lesley Griffiths and Carl Sargeant, whose work had led up to it, also wanted to see it strengthened, as did a variety of organisations in Wales. The Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, Alun Michael, got in touch with me about it at an early stage. Carl and Lesley and I had informal chats about it. Leading Labour party figures like former Minister Sue Essex texted me to say that we could achieve something much more ambitious for Wales. Julie Morgan AM told me that Labour women in her constituency wanted to see it strengthened.

There was a coalition of  women’s organisations campaigning to strengthen the Bill. Cathy Owens of the consultancy Deryn was acting as their spokesperson. She described the Bill to me in an email on my first day back in Cabinet as ‘ an absolute dog’s dinner.’ Cathy then sent me a three-page memo on the deficiencies of the Bill as she saw them. She was immensely complimentary about the work done by Carl and his special adviser, Sophie Howe, over several years, but very concerned that the Bill had been watered down. She was worried that the bulk of matters which women’s organisations in Wales had campaigned for had not been addressed in the Bill. These issues included the independence of an Adviser or Commissioner on violence against women and girls; the need to strengthen the educational proposals, and the need to improve what was said about the commissioning of services.

Amongst her many concerns, but only one of them, was the title of the Bill. Cathy explained why this was important:

‘Also, the name. Why are we banging on about the name? It’s important.

‘The officials think that they have to include everyone, and have become so all inclusive that they think by even mentioning women in the Bill, it will be against equality principles. Rubbish. With VAW being so prevalent, we have to start tackling VAW specifically, or we won’t make any progress.

‘Everyone else has VAW or VAWG policies. Even Theresa May and Boris Johnson have VAW policies.

‘As the strategies and the adviser will be called after the weird gender-neutral name, it means we are actually enshrining a position so that a future Welsh Government can never have a VAW strategy, never have an External Adviser on VAW, let alone a Commissioner.’

 

Cathy specifically asked me to see if I could challenge the advice from lawyers and others. She said:

‘Can you press back on the lawyers and officials about the gender-neutrality? Are they really saying you cannot legislate for women in this country, in the same way as you can for other groups like children, carers, older people, disabled people?’

I decided to see what I could do to strengthen the Bill, with the help of my special adviser, Alex Rawlin. I had meetings with officials and with lawyers. Some of these were rather tense and strained as I tried to get the lawyers to follow through ministerial intentions. I had a meeting with the First Minister on the issue on 25 September in which I outlined my plans. Following that meeting, the Head of the First Minister’s Office sent round a summary of our discussion, recently released to me under FoI, noting that I had told the FM that I was developing an amendment to the Bill specifically referring to violence against women and girls.

At my first appearance as Minister before the CELG Committee a week later on 1 October, I was able to announce:

The Welsh Government recognises that gender-based violence has a disproportionate impact on women and girls. I have spoken to the First Minister about this issue and I can confirm today that we intend to introduce a Government amendment at Stage 2 to add a new section to the Bill, which will probably be entitled ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’. This section would require those exercising the functions of the Bill across the bulk of its provisions, along with all other relevant matters, to have regard to violence against women and girls. The new section would apply to local authorities, local health boards, Welsh Ministers and the ministerial adviser.

Jocelyn Davies AM asked me about the title of the Bill at that meeting. I responded as follows:

You ask about the title of the Bill. I have not reached any final conclusions on that yet, but I am open to suggestions, and we will look at that. You will understand that the Presiding Officer has a clear view about titles of Bills, particularly once introduced. Therefore, there may be a conversation that we would all need to have with the Presiding Officer about that, were we to seek to make any changes to the title. The title, obviously, has to reflect the content of the Bill. However, we are only at Stage 1 at the moment, so there is plenty of time, it seems to me, to consider these matters further.

I had further discussions with the First Minister about the title of the Bll and its contents, and I was able to announce at the Bill proceedings in the Assembly on 25 November that we would be bringing forward an amendment to change the title of the Bill:

In view of the new section on violence against women and girls, I will also be considering a possible change to the short title of the Bill. This will need to adhere to the Presiding Officer’s determination on proper forms of Assembly Bills. I will update the committee on this in due course.

Despite this, I found a note from the FM’s Private Secretary in my ministerial box in early December saying that the FM wasn’t clear why a change in the title was being proposed – ‘he thought this was ruled out months ago’. I texted Carl Sargeant that evening. Like me, he thought the question had really been posed by someone in the FM’s office, not the FM himself. My entire private office helped me put together a reply to the FM’s question, going through past documents and pointing out that we had involved him in our thinking on this all the way through. Indeed, my speech for the 25 November debate had been contained in a Legislative Folder that he had seen. It was an example of the irritating and unnecessary internal obstructions we endured throughout this Bill. I have asked for the correspondence with the First Minister’s office to be released under FoI, but it is currently being withheld on the grounds that it refers to legal advice. The actual exchange between my office and the FM’s office was a political exchange, not a legal exchange, and does not in my view need to be withheld, so I have appealed that.

Subsequent proceedings saw us strengthening other sections of the Bill, including commissioning and the educational elements. Further discussions with Opposition Members, notably Plaid Cymru’s Jocelyn Davies, in the latter stages of the Bill, led to us strengthening it even more.

I am glad that in his recent New Statesman article, the First Minister praised the Violence against Women Bill as ‘ground-breaking’, even though, as he told the BBC in December last year, he had disagreed with the change of title when I proposed it:

The first minister said there had been “a dispute over the title of a bill, the Violence Against Women Bill, where he took one view and I took a different view”.

We should regard the passage of the Violence against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015 as one of the many legacies of Carl Sargeant, and I was pleased to see his son Jack referring to this legacy in the Assembly on Tuesday:

Jack Sergeant AM:
Thank you to the Government for bringing forward this statement today. With permission, I’d just like to put on the record that, four months ago today, we lost a true advocate for women’s rights and someone who stood up for women’s suffering, domestic abuse and sexual violence. I don’t think there’s any one of my dad’s suits that doesn’t have a white ribbon pin badge on, and I’m very proud to be standing here today in the Chamber wearing mine.

Getting the eventual Act right required a lot of negotiation, and it was a shame how much wasteful internal energy at times had to be spent on this. This was not ‘a petty dispute about the title of a Bill’, as the First Minister told Adrian Masters on ITV Wales on 5 December. The issue of the title itself was meaningful, not petty, and was regarded as significant by women’s organisations across the length and breadth of Wales. But we got there in the end, and my predecessors the late Carl Sargeant and Lesley Griffiths deserve great credit for their hard work and support.

 

The Full FoI Request to Cardiff University

As I revealed a couple of weeks back, Cardiff University received some malicious FoI requests designed to undermine my reputation. The full FOI requests have been released by Cardiff University to a journalist, so I am publishing them here without comment.

Dear Professor Andrews,

As requested, please find below the FoI questions followed by the responses:

  1. All communication from or to Leighton Andrews mentioning the words:

Carl Sargeant,

Sarge,

Carwyn,

Carwyn Jones,

CJ,

Matt Greenough,

Stapleton,

Cathy Owens,

Jo Kiernan,

James Hamilton,

bully,

bullying,

lie,

lies,

conspiracy,

Deryn,

Positif,

Daran.

I would like this information for the time period from November 5th 2017.

  1. I am making a freedom of information request for any information you hold since November 5th 2017:

1) Any communication between Leighton Andrews and officials of foreign governments

2) Any communication between Leighton Andrews and political consultants registered with the APPC

3)Any communication between Leighton Andrews and current members of the Welsh Assembly and current employees of the Welsh Government

4)Any communication between Leighton Andrews and personal email addresses (for example but not limited to – yahoo.co.uk, me.com, gmail.com, etc)

3. I would like to know details of any disciplinary investigations and/or sanctions involving Leighton Andrews, details of any complaints made against him and details of all complaints raised formally or informally by him since January 1st 2017.

I make this request under the freedom of information act.

4. Could I please request under the freedom of information act, Leighton Andrews’s diary since November 5th this year and details and content of any communication – text, emails, calls, WhatsApp messages – between Leighton Andrews and employees of Wales Online/Media Wales/Western Mail, BBC, ITV, Golwg, The Times, The Daily Mail, Guido Fawkes and Skwawkbox since November 3rd 2017.

5.Please provide any communications relating to Leighton Andrews’ behaviour and public comments since November 5th 2017, details of all meetings between Leighton Andrews and his superiors (both departmental and within the wider organisational structure) since November 5th 2017, and all communications relating to either permission or requests to allow Leighton Andrews to conduct non-university business during normal working hours since November 5th 2017.

6.Please provide (under the Freedom of Information Act), any communications, notes or minutes relating to the commercial, financial or organisational impact on the university of Leighton Andrews’ recent public comments since the beginning of November 2017.

I would also like copies of any communications between Leighton Andrews and email addresses ending in @assembly.wales, @senedd.cymru, @gov.wales, @wales.gsi.gov.uk, and @parliament.uk.

 

Intimidation of witnesses

A few weeks ago, Paul Martin of BBC Wales ran a story saying that some people were reluctant to give evidence to the Inquiry currently underway into whether the First Minister had breached the ministerial code. Separately, last week ITV’s Adrian Masters published an article  about the concerns expressed by some witnesses that the hearings were being held in Welsh Government buildings. Both stories are true and I have incorporated in my evidence material from some reluctant to have their names used.

But matters are worse than that. There have been several attempts, which I suspect have been coordinated, to undermine people who have spoken up in support of Carl Sargeant. I am aware of a number of public servants whose employers have had malicious or anonymous mail about them.

In my own case, my employer, Cardiff University, has had a series of FoI requests on matters which have nothing to do with my work, clearly intended to damage my reputation or undermine my relationship with the University.

Cardiff University, I am pleased to say, has been robust in my defence, as has the Universities and Colleges Union, UCU.

Here is a selection from the FoI requests. I will publish more in due course.

I would like to know details of any disciplinary investigations and/or sanctions involving Leighton Andrews, details of any complaints made against him and details of all complaints raised formally or informally by him since January 1st 2017.

Could I please request under the freedom of information act, Leighton Andrews’s diary since November 5th this year and details and content of any communication – text, emails, calls, WhatsApp messages – between Leighton Andrews and employees of Wales Online/Media Wales/Western Mail, BBC, ITV, Golwg, The Times, The Daily Mail, Guido Fawkes and Skwawkbox since November 3rd 2017.

Please provide any communications relating to Leighton Andrews’ behaviour and public comments since November 5th 2017, details of all meetings between Leighton Andrews and his superiors (both departmental and within the wider organisational structure) since November 5th 2017, and all communications relating to either permission or requests to allow Leighton Andrews to conduct non-university business during normal working hours since November 5th 2017.

Please provide (under the Freedom of Information Act), any communications, notes or minutes relating to the commercial, financial or organisational impact on the university of Leighton Andrews’ recent public comments since the beginning of November 2017. I would also like copies of any communications between Leighton Andrews and email addresses ending in @assembly.wales, @senedd.cymru, @gov.wales, @wales.gsi.gov.uk, and @parliament.uk.

In my opinion, these FoI requests are malicious, and designed to undermine my reputation and discredit me.

In November, a few days after Carl Sargeant’s death, following my blogpost about the toxic atmosphere on the Ministerial Floor in Ty Hywel for much of 2011-16, the First Minister told senior Welsh Labour A.M.s that people were being ‘lined up’ to attack me. Within days, an anonymous MP was slagging me off to the BBC . The First Minister went on television and attacked me in December. Subsequently, journalists have told me that people close to the First Minister have been making insinuations about me and also about a member of my family. I am aware that another attack on me is currently being prepared. Others, in public service, have suffered worse.

In my opinion, these attacks are designed to intimidate and to discourage people from giving evidence to the inquiries that have been established. Some people feel too exposed to give evidence. These attacks on friends of Carl – who are not elected politicians – are vile and disgusting. Remember, all of this is happening today, in post-devolution Wales, not in Senator McCarthy’s time in the USA. It is deeply damaging to devolution, to the reputation of Welsh Labour, and the reputation of the Welsh Government. I have kept the chair of Welsh Labour informed about the attacks on me, and I am grateful for his supportive approach. But the attacks need to stop, and Welsh Labour colleagues need to take action to ensure that they do.

Misleading the Assembly: an update.

The BBC today carries a story  pointing to further evidence that the First Minister has misled the Assembly, in respect of an answer that he gave to Adam Price AM before Christmas to a question asking whether I had complained about the treatment of Special Advisers. In his answer, the FM said:

There is no record and I have no recollection of such a complaint.

Under FoI, the following exchange of emails has been released, showing that in fact I made a specific written complaint in December 2014. This is entirely separate from the complaint I made to the FM in November 2014 asking him to investigate the conduct of his senior special adviser, a complaint which he has claimed I never made.

The December complaint was sent to the head of the First Minister’s Office, Des Clifford, after my private office was told that the Special Adviser working to me on public service/local government reform could not accompany me on visits to London.

It’s important to say I don’t blame the civil servant who sent the email questioning whether the Special Adviser should go to London. She was simply a channel for the message. But this was an example of the persistent undermining of some ministers and bullying of some special advisers which took place during the 2011-16 Welsh Government. It was debilitating and designed to wear people down. It poisoned relations on the Fifth Floor and got in the way of good government. This petty internal politics, relentlessly pursued, was all about control and power-plays. It could and should have been stopped, particularly after four Cabinet Ministers raised concerns about it during 2014

Here is the exchange released under FoI:

From: Andrews, Leighton (Ministerial) <Leighton.Andrews@wales.gsi.gov.uk> To: (OFMCO – Office of the First Minister) <@gov.wales> Cc: Sent: Wed 17/12/2014 15:47 Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings

I am slightly surprised at this email. I don’t recall any questions being raised when [name redacted] or [name redacted] accompanied me to meetings in London when I was previously in the Cabinet. Has there been a change of policy? I would be very concerned if I thought that [name redacted] was being treated differently from other special advisers. For the record, I think that the presence of a special adviser at such meetings is different from the role of a PS in these meetings. We are holding a number of high-level discussions on the subject of public service reform and you will see from the calibre of the people that we are meeting, both in January and this week, that we have scheduled discussions with people from whom we can learn about the process of public service reform in other places. [name redacted] needs to be in these meetings so that she can share in that learning and ensure that it is shared with officials when I am not available to discuss these issues with them and to inform her own contributions to future internal discussions on public service reform. You will appreciate that I have deliberately scheduled these visits in recess to avoid any disruption to normal business.

Best wishes, Leighton Leighton Andrews AM/AC Minister for Public Services Gweinidog dros Wasanaethau Cyhoeddus

From: @gov.wales To: @Wales.GSI.Gov.UK Cc: @gov.wales; @wales.gsi.gov.uk; @Wales.GSI.Gov.UK; (Special Adviser) @wales.gsi.gov.uk> Sent: Mon 15/12/2014 12:52

Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings

Thanks but that’s not my understanding. Any future visits like this need to be cleared with the FM, as he’s keen that SPADs are in the office as much as possible. I also understand that [name redacted] mentioned to [name redacted] that there is likely to be a SPAD meeting on 6 January which would need to attend. [Name redacted] or I will let you know as soon as that is finalised. Grateful if you could let me know on what basis [name redacted] needs to accompany the Minister to these meetings rather than a Private Secretary so I can let the FM know please.

Prif Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Prif Weinidog Cymru Senior Private Secretary to the First Minister of Wales Tel/Ffon: Fax/Ffacs: E-mail/E-bost: @wales.gsi.gov.uk _____________________________________________

From: @wales.gsi.gov.uk On Behalf Of PS Minister for Public Services Sent: 15 December 2014 12:39 To: PS First Minister; PS Minister for Public Services Cc: (Special Adviser); DS Minister for Public Services; (Special Adviser)

Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings , Further to the below, the Minister is also planning to visit London for the day on the 6th of January for some meetings which we couldn’t fit in during this week. They are: • ; • – to discuss experience of being a cooperative council; • – expert on public service reform, ; • – to discuss city regions, LEPs and links to Local Government Reform. {Name redacted] will be accompanying the Minister on this visit, she has discussed this with {name redacted].

Many thanks,

Uwch Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Leighton Andrews AC, Gweinidog Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus Senior Private Secretary to Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Public Services Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government. Ffôn / Tel: YP.Gweinidog.dros.GC@cymru.gsi.gov.uk / PS.Minister.for.PS@wales.gsi.gov.uk Yn hapus i ohebu yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg / Happy to correspond in English or Welsh _____________________________________________

From: (Perm Sec – OFM) On Behalf Of PS First Minister Sent: 20 November 2014 11:13 To: PS Minister for Public Services Cc: PS First Minister; (Special Adviser); DS Minister for Public Services

Subject: RE: Minister for PS – London meetings Thanks , the First Minister has noted.

Prif Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Prif Weinidog Cymru Senior Private Secretary to the First Minister of Wales Tel/Ffon: Fax/Ffacs: E-mail/E-bost: @wales.gsi.gov.uk _____________________________________________

From: (Perm Sec – OFM) On Behalf Of PS Minister for Public Services Sent: 18 November 2014 18:07 To: PS First Minister Cc: PS Minister for Public Services; (Special Adviser); DS Minister for Public Services

Subject: Minister for PS – London meetings , ,

Can you please make the First Minister aware that the Minister for Public Services is intending to set up a series of high level meetings in London over 3 days during winter recess in December to discuss innovative practice in public services in order to inform his thinking in terms of next steps on Public Services Reform. The list of individuals/organisations we are approaching for meetings include: • (arranged); • National Audit Office – taken on various previous role of Audit Commission on Local Government inspection and regulation; • Audit Commission – previously Audit and Regulation of Local Government; • Local Government Association – membership organisation and lead on improvement of Local Government; • – Innovation enterprise; • New Local Government Network – think tank on Local Government; • Smith Institute – independent think tank on public policy; • –(arranged); • Lambeth Council – early adopter of co-operative council model; • – expert on government reform and improvement (arranged); • – ; • – expert on public service reform,. We are also seeking to arrange bilaterals with UK Ministers.

Kind regards,

Uwch Ysgrifennydd Preifat i Leighton Andrews AC, Gweinidog Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus Senior Private Secretary to Leighton Andrews AM, Minister for Public Services Llywodraeth Cymru / Welsh Government Ffôn / Tel: YP.Gweinidog.dros.GC@cymru.gsi.gov.uk / PS.Minister.for.PS@wales.gsi.gov.uk Yn hapus i ohebu yn Gymraeg neu’n Saesneg / Happy to correspond in English or Welsh

Review of Adrian Masters’ Nothing has changed.

I reviewed Adrian Masters’ book Nothing has Changed for Wales Arts Review. Here’s a longer version of the review:

I’ve known Adrian Masters since he worked for BBC Radio Wales and came to interview me in my Tonypandy home prior to my election to the National Assembly in 2003. I’ve forgotten now what the item was about, but I think Adrian had been interviewing people in the Rhondda on the issues that mattered to them and then come to candidates for their views.

Adrian has always been one of the most thorough of interviewers in Welsh broadcasting – fair, but firm. His infamous red notebooks contain many secrets, some of which he shares – without revealing sources where they didn’t want to be named – in this volume of his 2017 election diaries. His title of course comes from the statement by the Prime Minister after she reversed her disastrous manifesto pledge on social care during the election campaign. By the early hours of 10 June, however, as Adrian says, ‘Everything has changed’.

This was an election where, as Adrian reminded us, the Conservatives started well-ahead of Labour in the polls and senior Labour figures thought that the party would do well to hold 200 seats. ITV Wales’s own Yougov poll had the Tories well ahead of Labour at the beginning of the campaign, poised to win 21 seats. I remember this well from a Twitter spat at the time between my friend the late Carl Sargeant and my Cardiff University colleague Roger Scully.

Though the substantive election inquests have yet to be published, this election seemed to one of two halves, reflected in the cross-over in the opinion polls and the dramatic final outcome. For the third General Election in a row I watched an exit poll come in and said ‘I don’t believe it’. Only unlike the previous two general elections I wasn’t sitting in a BBC Wales studio at the time.

Adrian’s book takes us back to the days before the election, which genuinely seem like a different electoral world. As he says ‘certainties have been lost, rules bent or broken and leaders have risen and fallen.’ His account starts with the terrorist incident in Westminster, moves through the death of Rhodri Morgan and the further terrorist outrage in Manchester, and concludes with Labour picking up Welsh seats like Vale of Clwyd, Gower and Cardiff North.

Adrian is in no doubt that the Labour surge can be put down to changing and more positive reactions to Jeremy Corbyn’s performance, a strong showing by Welsh Labour under Carwyn Jones’ leadership, and argues that ‘the tributes to Rhodri Morgan also cemented the view of Welsh Labour being different.’

Where Adrian scores most heavily in these diaries is on background colour. Messages come in from different party representatives, both elected and backroom, which may have surfaced on Adrian’s Twitter feed at the time but may not have made it into broadcast reports. Things that Adrian was told then on background now surface – unattributed – in their mistaken glory.

What is written from a Labour perspective reflects conversations I was having with people at the time, but it is interesting to get an all-round view of how Conservative, Plaid and other party insiders were feeling. I can make guesses at some of the sources on the Labour side in particular, but while Adrian quotes them here to give a sense of the contemporary mood, he doesn’t embarrass them with personal unmasking. Nor would you expect him to do so.

Where people were willing to be quoted, Adrian makes good use of the material he gathered. ‘By any sensible consideration, I’m toast’ says Paul Flynn at one point. Later in the campaign he tells Adrian ‘More optimistic now. There is a favourable Welsh dimension because of Carwyn and memories of Rhodri.’ As late as the last week of the campaign a Conservative AM tells Adrian that they (he doesn’t specify gender) now think they will elect ‘a rugby team and a few reserves’. They went down to eight.

Adrian’s personal account of the ITV Wales debate is fascinating, and gives a good sense of the challenges facing a broadcast journalist trying to both maintain balance and keep the flow of the debate. His account of the behind-the-scenes row within the Conservative Party as to whether Andrew RT Davies or Alun Cairns was to appear for them is entertaining and becomes a sub-plot within the text, as does Adrian’s battle to get an interview with the PM. Campaign insider accounts of the use of Facebook and social, media to mobilise young people are interesting and valuable.

Throughout this book, Adrian demonstrates what a good print journalist he could have been. His account has pace, is well-written and thoughtful, with contemplative passages added to the contemporary diary and reconstructed notes. Reading it in the aftermath of Carl Sargeant’s tragic death made me reflect on how long ago it all now feels. Yes,  everything has changed.

Mental health and politics

I was teaching the final seminar in my module on Ministerial Life yesterday, and it was about Losing Political Office, something about which I am obviously an expert! Aside from looking at the usual kinds of ministerial exits – sackings, forced resignations, principled resignations, defeat at the ballot-box etc, I ended with an examination of the impact on loss of office which Dame Jane Roberts has undertaken. Jane was the former Leader of Camden Council and is a trained child pyschiatrist and has done good work in Wales as well on behalf of the Welsh Government. In her writings, she says:

Political mortality is not a comfortable subject to discuss. We shy away from lingering long over exits of any kind. The nature of political office and its intoxicating allure for many makes contemplating its end deeply painful.

She emphasises that this is in part because

Politics is about the promise of the future.

My summary slide of some of Jane’s arguments is here:

Jane Roberts png

In the trauma of the last few weeks, the emotional devastation has obviously been strongest with Carl’s immediate and wider family. But I have been struck by how many of his close friends are now themselves receiving counselling, and I am personally grateful to Cardiff University for facilitating that for me. Teaching, itself, has been therapeutic, and my colleagues and my students have been terrific.

I wrote five weeks ago how my mental health had improved after leaving politics. The last five weeks, I have to be honest, have not been great. A crisis like this has shown me who my friends really are. There are people I thought for years I could count on who suddenly became unavailable. There are other people in public life whose behaviour has been shockingly dishonest, and some who have indulged in name-calling, smearing and personal attacks. That has been deeply distressing to see and experience, and has simply compounded the grief at losing Carl. The emotional bullying has continued, in other words, and Welsh Labour needs to deal with it. Whether the hurt and anger will fade, only time will tell. While things continue as they are, there can be no closure, and the wounds will fester. However, truth will out.

On the positive side, there have been people, including in my own party but many in opposing parties or in the media or the civil service, or old friends who have suddenly got back in touch, who have reached out with a kind word or a private message or a hug. They know who they are, and I am deeply grateful to them.

Back in 1999, in my book Wales Says Yes, I wrote the following:

politics from Wales says Yes

Five years ago, four Assembly Members from four different parties bravely spoke out about their own mental health in a deeply moving debate in the Senedd. I have supported mental health charities in the past, and the Rhondda Labour Party donated some of its receipts from a fundraising dinner with Alastair Campbell to Time to Change Wales. Alastair and I also did a photocall for Time to Change Wales when Cardiff City played Burnley a couple of years ago, as you can see in the featured photo. We were 2-0 up till close to the end, then they equalized in the last minute, in case you wondered.

At the end of the day, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace depend on leadership from the top. If bullying – well-defined here by ACAS – is allowed to continue unabated, it poisons relationships and undermines organisational effectiveness. When I give evidence to the Inquiries coming forward, I will be giving evidence also on behalf of people who were bullied and who witnessed bullying, but in their present roles cannot themselves speak out. And I will not be silenced.

 

The leaking of the reshuffle – who told what to whom?

I have not given any formal interviews to the media since November 10th, the morning that the Independent Inquiry into Carl’s death was announced, but privately I have been mulling over various unanswered questions.

Two weeks ago, the Western Mail’s Chief Reporter Martin Shipton wrote:

Other allegations are also swirling around the Senedd, with suggestions that outsiders were tipped off from the fifth floor that Mr Sargeant was going to lose his job in Government before he knew himself.

If that happened, it would be in potential breach of codes of conduct covering Ministers, civil servants and/ or special advisers.

It is worth saying a few words about how reshuffles are ordinarily conducted in the Welsh Government, because I have never seen a reshuffle conducted in quite this way before.

I have been involved in six reshuffles. In May 2007, Rhodri Morgan brought me into the Welsh Government as a Deputy Minister. I was appointed in the First Minister’s office in Cathays Park, with Rhodri and his then chief special advisor Mark Drakeford in attendance. In July, following the formation of the One Wales Government, I was moved to a different Deputy Ministerial role – I was in my Rhondda constituency, so the discussion occurred on the telephone.

In December 2009, Carwyn Jones appointed me to his Cabinet as Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning. Again, this happened in the FM’s office in Cathays Park, with Special Advisor Jane Runeckles present. In May 2011, I was appointed Minister for Education and Skills, and I was reappointed to that role in the March 2013 reshuffle. Again, both meetings with the FM took place in his Cathays Park office. I was forced to resign from the Government in June 2013 – a story for another day – with the meeting taking place in the FM’s office in Cardiff Bay. I was appointed back to the Cabinet in September 2014 as Minister for Public Services, again in Cathays Park. In each of the May 2011, March 2013 and September 2014 appointments, chief special advisor Jo Kiernan was present.

When a re-shuffle takes place, very few people are ‘in the know’. They are, usually, the First Minister, his chief special adviser, possibly one or two other special advisors, and the First Minister’s ‘outer office’ of Private Office civil servants and the Head of the Cabinet Secretariat. For incumbent ministers, their private offices will know that their minister is going to meet the FM, but they won’t know what is going to happen to them. Ministerial drivers will know that they are taking Ministers to see the FM, but that is all they know.

In the case of the November 3 reshuffle, as Martin Shipton wrote on November 18, it has been widely speculated that outsiders knew in advance that Carl Sargeant was to be sacked before he did.

So what do we know? From discussions with many well-connected individuals over the last few weeks I have been able to piece together the following:

  • A Labour AM told the Labour Assembly Group meeting on November 9 that he had been texted by someone he regarded as a reliable source that Carl was to lose his job, before the reshuffle was announced.
  • A leading Welsh journalist received a text in advance of the reshuffle’s announcement that Carl was to be sacked.
  • A Welsh Labour MP told another Welsh Labour MP that Carl was to lose his job, before the reshuffle was announced.

So who told what to whom?

Only a very small number of people would have known that Carl was to be sacked.

The next question that arises is this: were the leaks to the Labour AM, the Labour MP and the journalist direct from the ‘Fifth Floor’ – the Ministerial Floor – or were they from intermediaries who had themselves had information leaked to them? If so, who were the intermediaries and what interest did they have in leaking the material, and why was it leaked to them and by whom?

At the end of the day, information must have been leaked from someone – or some people – on the Fifth Floor.

The Permanent Secretary should conduct a full leak inquiry, if she isn’t doing so already, into all calls, texts and emails sent by relevant people on the day of the reshuffle and the days leading up to it. Someone, or some people, leaked the news about Carl Sargeant’s sacking. This has never happened before in any Welsh Government reshuffle. It is unprecedented. So who leaked? And to whom? And how many people knew?

 

My tribute to Carl on Radio Wales

I recorded this tribute to Carl Sargeant for Radio Wales on the afternoon of Carl Sargeant’s death. My thanks to BBC presenter Felicity Evans for her sensitivity. The picture is Carl doing Karaoke at Connahs Quay Labour Club in 2013, the night of the tenth anniversary party for his time as an Assembly Member.