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Friday, January 26, 2018

The leak that wasn't

The Cardiff Bay bubble is a curious place, full of secrets and rumours, whispering campaigns and personal vendettas. I suppose it is what you get when you lock away 60 politicians, their staff, dozens of lobbyists and a handful of journalists together for a couple of days and nights each week, cut them off from the real world and provide them with a platform to pursue their own agendas and prejudices.

This strange game spills out into the bars and restaurants around the Assembly, except that it is no longer a game. Somebody has died and the players are turning in on themselves as others demand answers. Revelations have emerged of a toxic culture and bullying behaviour, and the furore right;y grows around the many unanswered questions about the circumstances which led to Carl Sergeant taking his own life.

As a result of what happened, four separate inquiries have been set up and yesterday we learnt that the main investigation into how ex-Labour minister Carl Sargeant was sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones is to be headed by Paul Bowen QC and is expected to last four months.

The other inquiries are the inquest itself, one into whether the First Minister misled the Assembly when he said no allegations of bullying had been made to him in 2014 and a probe by the Permanent Secretary, which is looking into whether the news of Carl's sacking was leaked or not.

But what is this? Tucked away in the announcement of the appointment of Pail Bowen is the news that this last inquiry has reported and the Permanent Secretary has concluded that there is no evidence that details of the cabinet reshuffle were leaked beforehand:

In a statement on the separate leak inquiry, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: "This investigation has now finished and found that there is no evidence of prior unauthorised sharing of information by the Welsh Government relating to the recent ministerial reshuffle."

This is strange because everybody within the bubble seemed to know that Carl Sergeant was to be sacked ahead of the official announcement. So the question now is, if there was no unauthorised leak, then who authorised it?
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