In his inaugural First Minister’s Questions as Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Paul Davies AM, sought answers from Carwyn Jones on why he vetoed recent changes recommended by Paul Bowen for the QC inquiry into the events surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death.
Following non-answers from Mr Jones, Mr Davies, the new Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly for Wales, gave the First Minister an opportunity to explain which proposals he did not agree with and why he rejected them.
The out-going First Minister denied vetoing any proposals despite saying in his official statement that “agreed to the majority of Mr Bowen’s requests”, the implication being he was unhappy with some.
Mr Davies concluded his interrogation saying that Mr Jones was “having a significant involvement in the direction and remit of this inquiry. Surely this diminishes any integrity connected to this inquiry given that you [Carwyn Jones] are included in this investigation – and you are at the same time controlling the terms of reference – that cannot be right.
“So therefore, how can you reassure the Welsh people that this is not another inquiry that ultimately leads to accusations of a Welsh Government cover up?”
In response to this, the First Minister said “I did not have to set up this investigation.”
Speaking outside the Siambr, Mr Davies said:
“This is a highly sensitive process that is looking into tragic events. It is not only those who were close to Carl that are demanding answers, but the people of Wales too.
“The Welsh Government is obligated to be transparent with those it governs. To see the First Minister veto proposals and then deny such actions is more reminiscent of an autocracy than a democracy.
“Under his stewardship, we have seen several Welsh Government inquiries, but Carwyn Jones is a man who seeks to protect his government from criticism – whatever the cost.
“There is a disturbing pattern that festers within Labour’s Welsh Government and has for a long time – they will do anything to maintain their grip on power, even if it means operating in an environment of secrecy.”