April 22, 2024
Money

Eco-conscious frontrunner to be Wales’s next First Minister is embroiled in ‘dirty money’ row after taking £200,000 from flytipper


  • Rishi Sunak: Wales is proof that when Labour run something, they run it badly  



A contender to become Labour’s next Welsh First Minister is embroiled in a ‘dirty money’ row after pocketing a £200,000 donation from a convicted polluter who dumped waste on a conservation site.

Vaughan Gething, one of two candidates bidding to take over from Mark Drakeford, has vowed to introduce tougher penalties for those who break environmental rules.

But he was yesterday slammed by supporters of his rival, Jeremy Miles, over the ‘unjustifiable and wrong’ decision to accept two donations from a firm run by businessman David Neal.

Mr Neal, 63, was prosecuted in 2013 for illegally dumping waste at a conservation site on the Gwent Levels, near the Severn Estuary, after toxic liquid had leaked into the water.

Four years later he was prosecuted for again failing to remove the waste. On both occasions he was given a suspended prison sentence.

The row came as Rishi Sunak prepared to address the Welsh Conservative conference.

Recently another of Mr Neal’s firms faced action by a Welsh government body after odour complaints at a landfill in Pembrokeshire likened by locals to a ‘stink bomb on steroids’.

RISHI SUNAK: Wales is proof that when Labour run something, they run it badly

Mr Neal’s firm, Dauson Environmental Group, made two donations to Mr Gething’s campaign totalling £200,000 in December and January. A spokesman for Mr Gething said he will remain committed to his pledge of ‘stricter penalties for those who break environmental rules’ should he win the leadership contest.

The row came as Rishi Sunak prepared to address the Welsh Conservative conference.

Writing in the Daily Mail today, the Prime Minister says Labour’s record in Wales ‘is proof that when Labour run something, they run it badly’. Mr Sunak highlights Sir Keir Starmer’s boast that the Cardiff administration would be his ‘blueprint’ for governing Britain.

He added: ‘I am sorry that people in Wales are in Labour’s laboratory.’

Mr Gething, Welsh minister for the economy, said the donations were ‘checked and filed properly with the Electoral Commission’ and ‘declared to the Senedd (Welsh parliament)’.

Mr Gething has criticised Mr Drakeford¿s deeply unpopular blanket 20mph speed limit policy, which he branded a ¿big frustration¿

His spokesman said the payments were ‘in line with the rules and Vaughan’s commitment to transparency’. He added that the firm had given assurances it was ‘addressing the issues’ which had led to its prosecution.

Lee Waters, Welsh deputy climate change minister, said: ‘I’m sorry but £200,000 on an internal election in a cost of living crisis is completely unjustifiable.

‘I don’t want this to become a negative campaign but I am genuinely shocked and angry by this. It’s wrong.’

However, Mr Gething has criticised Mr Drakeford’s deeply unpopular blanket 20mph speed limit policy, which he branded a ‘big frustration’ in televised debates on Wednesday.

Mr Gething stopped short of calling for the policy to be scrapped, but admitted the administration could have done better in its ‘implementation and communication’.

Voting in the contest – which was triggered by Mr Drakeford’s announcement he was stepping down – closes on March 14.



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