Welsh Tory leader QUITS after admitting he drank alcohol on Welsh parliament grounds with other MPs days after pub booze ban was enforced
- Paul Davies was accused of drinking alcohol in a Senedd tearoom in December
- Joined by Welsh Government minister Alun Davies, Tory chief whip Darren Millar and the party’s chief of staff Paul Smith
- Wales banned the consumption of alcohol on licensed premises 4 days earlier
- All men denied breaking Covid-19 rules and say they observed social distancing
- But Mr Davies said controversy had become a ‘distraction’ so has stepped down
The leader of the Welsh Conservatives has stepped down after admitting he downed alcohol on Welsh parliament grounds days after a pub alcohol ban was enforced.
Paul Davies was accused of drinking alcohol with former Welsh Government minister Alun Davies, Tory chief whip Darren Millar and the party’s chief of staff Paul Smith in a licensed Senedd tearoom in December.
Just four days earlier, Wales banned the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol on licensed premises – although off-licences were allowed to sell alcohol until 10pm.
All four men denied breaking Covid-19 rules and say they observed social distancing while meeting in the Ty Hywel building to discuss working together on a proposed bill.
But Mr Davies today said the controversy had become a ‘distraction’ and that he is standing down with ‘immediate effect’ despite appeals from colleagues to continue.
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Paul Davies (pictured) has stepped down after admitting he downed alcohol on Welsh parliament grounds days after a pub alcohol ban was enforced
Paul Davies was accused of drinking alcohol with former Welsh Government minister Alun Davies, Tory chief whip Darren Millar and the party’s chief of staff Paul Smith in a licensed Senedd (pictured) tearoom in December
Tory chief whip Darren Millar (pictured) said he is also stepping down from his frontbench role in the Senedd.
He said in a statement: ‘Yesterday I indicated to the Conservative group in the Welsh Parliament that I wished to resign, but they urged me to reflect further, and we agreed to meet again on Monday.
‘However, for the sake of my party, my health and my own conscience, I simply cannot continue in post.
Labour member Mr Davies (right) said: ‘I am very sorry if my actions have given the impression that I am in any way not committed to upholding the regulations which I have consistently supported throughout the last year’
‘Therefore, I am stepping down as leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Welsh Parliament with immediate effect.’
Tory chief whip Darren Millar said he is also stepping down from his frontbench role in the Senedd.
He said he joined working dinners on December 8 and 9, adding: ‘On both evenings I served myself a pre-ordered, pre-prepared meal that was reheated in the microwave and ate it while drinking an alcoholic beverage and discussing work matters with colleagues.
‘Social distancing was maintained throughout these working dinners and it simply did not occur to either me, my colleagues or the catering team that the arrangements may have been inappropriate.’
His statement added: ‘While I am advised that I did not breach coronavirus regulations I am very sorry for my actions, especially given the impact of the tough restrictions that people and businesses are enduring.
‘For this reason, and given that Paul Davies has resigned as Welsh Conservative Group leader in the Senedd, I have decided to step down from my front-bench role in the Welsh Parliament.
‘I am co-operating fully with ongoing investigations and will continue to do so.’
Earlier this week, Conservative Nick Ramsay denied being part of the boozing session.
His solicitor declared his client ‘sat on his own’ and ‘had a chicken curry’ after four other politicians, including Tory party leader in Wales, Paul Davies, were probed for allegedly downing wine in their Parliamentary bar in Cardiff.
He said: ‘Mr Ramsay did attend the Tea Room on his own at the Senedd, without invitation after work.
‘He sat on his own and was socially distanced. He attended the Tea Room at approximately 6pm. He had a chicken curry.
‘He left at about 8pm. Others came in whilst he was there but it was not a ‘gathering’ Mr. Ramsay was part of.’
Labour member Mr Davies has been suspended by his party and an investigation has been launched.
The group were served drinks by caterers in the Ty Hywel building which adjoins the Senedd where strict lockdown laws were made.
Officials at the Senedd – Wales’ parliament – say they are investigating an ‘incident’ which ‘may have been contrary to public health regulations.’
Labour member Mr Davies said: ‘I am very sorry if my actions have given the impression that I am in any way not committed to upholding the regulations which I have consistently supported throughout the last year.
Welsh Tory politician Nick Ramsay denied being part of a seven-hour boozing session at the Welsh Parliament just days after an alcohol ban in pubs
‘The Senedd Commission has already confirmed to me that I did not breach the coronavirus regulations on the consumption of either food or alcohol that were in force at that time.’
Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething refused to be drawn on whether the Tory members should stand down or be suspended.
But he said the Labour group’s decision to suspend Alun Davies ‘was the right thing’ to do.
He said: ‘Any sense of people not all being in this together, isn’t helpful in terms of message that we all need to follow.’
A spokesman for the Senedd Commission said: ‘We are aware of an incident on the Senedd estate last month which may have been contrary to public health regulations in force at the time.
‘The Senedd Commission takes the public health regulations in Wales very seriously and is currently investigating the matter in order to establish an accurate account of what took place and to determine whether action may be required.’
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