Carwyn Jones attacks ‘grumpy’ Leighton Andrews

Carwyn Jones
Image caption Carwyn Jones said Leighton Andrews had complained about a lot of things in government

First minister Carwyn Jones has accused his former colleague Leighton Andrews – who has claimed bullying went on during his time in the Welsh Government – of waging “trial by Twitter”.

Mr Jones said Mr Andrews had been known by the nickname “grumpy” in government.

The ex-councils minister claimed that the atmosphere in the Welsh Government was “toxic” in the last assembly term.

But Mr Jones denied claims from Mr Andrews that he had raised concerns about the behaviour of staff in 2014.

Mr Andrews has insisted on Twitter that he had made the complaint.

The first minister also said he could not have ignored the allegations against the AM for Alyn and Deeside, in his first full interview with BBC Wales since the death of Carl Sargeant.

Mr Jones’ comments on Tuesday came after he publicly denied that Mr Andrews had ever raised complaints with him about Welsh Government staff in 2014.

Mr Sargeant was found dead days after Mr Jones fired him from his cabinet-level job. He had faced a Labour Party investigation about his personal conduct.

Mr Jones said Mr Andrews did not complain about the conduct of Welsh Government staff in 2014.

“He complained about lots of things, in fact his nickname was ‘grumpy Leighton Andrews’.

“But it was small things. The title of a bill… In terms of serious complaints, written complaints, no.”

Image caption Leighton Andrews’ nickname was ‘grumpy’, Carwyn Jones said

Mr Jones denied that he had agreed in 2014 to a formal investigation after Mr Andrews complained about the code for special advisors being broken, as Mr Andrews alleged on Tuesday.

The first minister said the issue had been “a dispute over the title of a bill, the Violence Against Women Bill, where he took one view and I took a different view”.

“There was an issue in terms of the legality of the title. We resolved that,” Mr Jones said.

“If that was what all this was about, for goodness sake, it was a minor row over a title of a bill.

“He did serve in the government mind from 2014 to 2016. It wasn’t a problem for him then. So why is it suddenly a problem for him now?”

Mr Jones said: “There is a way of doing this properly and a way of not doing it properly.

“The way of not doing it properly is to fire off random tweets in the course of a day making random allegations – how on earth can we respond to that?

“Some kind of trial by twitter is not a sensible way of doing it,” said Mr Jones.

“I’m confident that I did everything as I should have done,” said Mr Jones of how he handled allegations against Carl Sargeant.

“Could I have done something different? No.

“The only way I could have done it different would have been to have ignored the allegations.”

Image caption There was no suggestion Carl Sargeant was in a vulnerable state, Carwyn Jones said.

Mr Jones said there was no suggestion that Carl Sargeant “was in a state that was vulnerable to do what he did”.

He said he had to sack him from his ministerial job because “if you were a backbencher you would be suspended”.

“Why treat someone differently, or more favourably, because they happen to be in cabinet?

“Everyone has to have the same due process. It is followed by every party in London, and Cardiff. It is followed by trades unions.”

Mr Andrews said on Twitter that he would not have taken to the social network if Carwyn Jones had not said what he said in the chamber.

He added that Mr Jones’ comment that he had complained about a lot of things and that his alleged nickname was “pathetic”.

Speaking to BBC Wales, Mr Andrews stood by his allegations, saying there “was bullying”.

He said that was “separate to the complaints that I made to the first minister which, contrary to what he told me at the time, he now appears to have done nothing about.”

BBC News – Wales

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