Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething said Members of the Senedd who drank wine in the Welsh Parliament buildings, days after a ban on alcohol in pubs and restaurants had come into force has damaged public health messaging.
Conservative Senedd leader Paul Davies and Darren Millar, Labour Member of the Senedd Alun Davies and a Conservative party chief of staff Paul Smith drank wine in a members’ tea room at Ty Hywel, the office building attached to the Senedd.
The politicians and party worker are understood to have consumed wine after a plenary meeting on December 8. That was four days after drinking alcohol in hospitality venues was banned in Wales.
At the time of the meeting pubs, restaurants and cafes were no longer able to serve alcohol to customers in Wales after the Welsh Government’s alcohol ban came into force at 6pm on Friday, December 4.
Senedd authorities said they were investigating an “incident” which “may have been contrary to public health regulations”.
Asked about the issue at the latest Welsh Government coronavirus briefing on Wednesday Vaughan Gething said: “Any challenge, any sense of people not all being in this together isn’t helpful in terms of the message we all have to follow.
“We all have a part to play in doing the right thing. The rules are clear but apart from that there should be indoor mixing within households.
“I hope that all of us would reflect, that the more consistent we are in the messaging we give to the public, and what we then do, the better off we will all be.
“This is a health crisis, and an economic one, and the way through this is for all of us to pull together and do the right thing.”
He added that he was “not aware of the full facts”, and said that there needed to be an investigation into the fuller understanding of what did take place.
“I have been the subject of press stories myself where some people make comments without wanting to understand the facts, so I don’t think I should lay in to a matter like this where I am simply not aware of all the facts,” he said.
In May, Clwyd West MS Darren Millar called for the Mr Gething “to be put on the subs bench” after he was seen eating chips on a park bench in Cardiff Bay.
The health minister said on Wednesday: “I don’t know all the facts. The last thing we want to see happen is an investigation comes out and it is only staff who are potentially getting thrown under the bus.
“Everyone needs to look at what they have done, we need to understand the full impact for what has been done, and we can’t rush to judgement.”
Alun Davies, the Welsh Labour MS for Blaenau Gwent, has had the group whip removed as the Senedd Commission investigates his meeting with Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies, party vice-chair Darren Millar, and Tory chief of staff Paul Smith.
When asked if the Conservative Party should suspend the members allegedly involved, Mr Gething said: “It is a matter for other groups to decide whether they think they should do something similar.
“I think the Labour group has done the right thing. This is not a judgement on the Member for Blaenau Gwent, this is really about allowing that investigation to take place.”