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Senior Welsh government minister used disappearing messages during pandemic – Care Appointments

Senior Welsh government minister used disappearing messages during pandemic – Care Appointments


A Welsh Government minister used missing messages during the pandemic, an investigation has heard.

Vaughan Gething, one of the most senior members of the Welsh Labor government and a former health minister, used a feature that automatically deleted WhatsApp messages after a set period of time.

Mr Gething (pictured) is currently Minister of Economy and one of two contenders to be the country's next Prime Minister.

His use of the messaging feature was revealed on Tuesday during Britain's Covid-19 investigation, which will take place in Cardiff for the next three weeks.

The inquiry examines the Welsh Government's decision-making throughout the health crisis.

Nia Gowman, who represents the Covid-19 group Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, criticized the Welsh Government's use of messaging for decision-making.

She also argued that the material disclosed in the investigation was late and questionably limited and that denials by some in the Welsh Government, including First Minister Mark Drakeford, that they had not used tools like WhatsApp for government affairs, didn't ring true.

Mr Drakeford was forced to correct the record in the Senedd late last year after initially saying he did not use the messaging platform at all.

Ms Gowman said: The limited messages that have been leaked clearly show that WhatsApp and text messages used to discuss government business are where they should not have been.

They show senior special advisers to the Welsh Government suspiciously and systematically deleting communications.

They show special advisers reminding themselves and others that they had agreed to delete WhatsApp chats once a week.

They show the most senior special adviser to the First Minister of Wales and Vaughan Gething, the health minister, turning on messages which disappear.

Ms Gowman described the deletion of the messages as questionable and contrary to the words of the Prime Minister's official spokesperson, who said staff were regularly reminded of the need to maintain and maintain robust records relating to decisions made throughout the throughout the pandemic.

Gething and Drakeford are due to appear before the inquest in the coming weeks.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: We will not comment on matters relating to the investigation while the hearings are ongoing.

Welsh government ministers and officials will give detailed evidence in the coming weeks.

We have made clear that we will continue to be fully involved in the investigation to ensure that all actions and decisions are fully and properly considered.

Andrew Kinnier KC, who represents the Welsh Government at the inquiry, insisted the Welsh Government did not use WhatsApp to make decisions.

He said: Welsh ministers nor senior civil servants have used WhatsApp or any other form of informal communication as a substitute or additional means of decision-making.

Mr Kinnier said scrutiny can be difficult, but is necessary, and insisted that protecting those most at risk was a major and constant consideration, for example the elderly or economically disadvantaged people.

He said: “There is a higher proportion of older people in Wales than in the rest of the UK and concerns about the impact of the virus and the response on their health and wellbeing have been raised. of crucial importance everywhere.

Mr Kinnier also cited Mr Drakeford, who offered his condolences to everyone who has lost someone during the pandemic.

He said: The pandemic has touched everyone's lives, mine, those of my colleagues, those of our communities, but especially those of the many families who have lost loved ones.

I would like at the outset to acknowledge this loss and take this opportunity to express my personal sympathy and sincere condolences to those affected and to all those who have lost loved ones in all countries.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2024, all rights reserved. Photo (c) James Manning/PA.




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