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Monday, February 06, 2012

Questions unanswered

I have been asked to meet the Welsh Minister responsible for equalities later today, presumably to receive a briefing on progress on the Government inquiry into race equality charity AWEMA.

As is outlined on this blog some very serious accusations have been made about this organisation. A report commissioned by the charity's trustees recommended its Chief Executive be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing. Instead, he received a written warning.

The report alleges that Mr. Naz Malik, who has been in that role since 2001, used "Awema funds in an inappropriate way", including paying off credit card debts worth £9,340. There have also been accusations of bullying and sexual harrassment.

The Welsh Government have suspended all funding to AWEMA, including £8 million for European projects pending the outcome of the review, and yet the author of the independent report and other key witnesses say that they have not been interviewed at all.

The BBC report that the Tories are starting to make the obvious links between the Labour Party and AWEMA itself. This is because of the strong association between the Malik family and the party.

Mr Malik's son Gwion Iqbal Malik stood on Labour's Mid and West Wales regional list at last May's assembly elections. Pictures on Facebook show him campaigning with the first minister. In one photo, his father Naz is seen standing behind Mr Jones at a voter's doorstep.

Personally, I am prepared to give the Government the benefit of the doubt until I see the report, but there are many questions that need to be answered about it and the process that has led to this point. Today's meeting will need to be very convincing.

Update: I meant to mention the 2003 investigation and report into AWEMA, which is not a public document. The real question is what did it say and why is it not published? This report has the potential to be the real smoking gun in this case. It is time the Welsh Government made it widely available.
All the political parties in Wales for political reasons support the aims and task for which AWEMA exists. You know Peter, although you have not said it, that there is only one of those four parties where a culture of 'divine right to rule' and 'cronyism' exists. I do not think that a LibDem, Plaid or Tory figure would have even considered expropriating public funds from such a body or indulged in creaming off such funds for family members. It would be off the radar. Plaid has already faced the 'political' issue of showing an 'ethnic minority figure' the door. It was when Mohamed Ashgar AM wanted to employ his daughter, and Plaid said 'NO', even though that meant loosing an AM to the Tories. It's a pity the Labour Party are not making clear that the activities of Naz are unacceptable, and saying so publicly. It is the Labour Party who must do this, and so far they have failed to act. If it was an obscure communities first programme in the north, ministers would be shouting for action from the rooftops. But this is one of their own.
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