Evidence suggests new First Minister misled UK Covid Inquiry

Evidence has emerged that Vaughan Gething misled the UK Covid Inquiry and the Senedd by concealing the fact that he deliberately deleted records of conversations he had with other ministers.


As a witness to the Inquiry, the First Minister insisted that messages had been deleted from his mobile phone not by him, but when it was serviced by the Senedd’s IT department.


But a previously undisclosed message that has been leaked to Nation.Cymru proves that he admitted deleting conversations he had with ministerial colleagues on a group chat.


In a text message posted to the ministerial group chat on Monday August 17 2020, when he was Health Minister, Mr Gething wrote: “I’m deleting the messages in this group. They can be captured in an FOI [Freedom of Information request] and I think we are all in the right place on the choice being made.”


Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said the revelation not only struck a “devastating blow to those who lost loved ones” during the pandemic, but also showed a “blatant disregard” for honesty and transparency and further undermined “trust” in the First Minister.


Telling lies at a statutory public inquiry, such as the UK Covid-19 Inquiry, amounts to the criminal offence of perjury, which on conviction can lead to a prison sentence of up to seven years. Furthermore, the Inquiries Act 2005 states that all relevant material must be provided to an inquiry, while the Freedom of Information Act has penalties for those who destroy material that would be subject to disclosure.



Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:


“The revelation that Vaughan Gething, as the former Health Minister of Wales, deliberately deleted messages at the height of the pandemic, strikes a devastating blow to those who lost loved ones and who, like us in Plaid Cymru, have long called for a Welsh inquiry to get to the bottom of Government decisions. We all sought transparency but were told all was in the open for the UK Inquiry to see. This undermines any belief that that is the case.


“It shows blatant disregard for honesty and transparency, further undermining trust in the Labour First Minister on the back of his donations scandal. The leaked message shows that the Welsh Labour Cabinet was complicit in allowing this deception. Baroness Hallett, as chair of the Inquiry, should immediately recall Vaughan Gething to give clarity on what he said under oath.


“Vaughan Gething is running away from an independent investigation into a donation to his Labour leadership campaign but must not be allowed to dodge an investigation into this extremely serious matter.”

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