The Senedd's standards commissioner is still investigating a December 2020 drinking scandal at the Welsh Parliament that involved three elected politicians - one year after it first came to light.

The current news cycle might be filled with stories of Boris Johnson and boozy lockdown parties in Downing Street, but a year ago this week it was members of the Senedd who were coming under fire.

The group of Welsh politicians found themselves in the headlines amid claims they had broken national Covid restrictions by drinking alcohol in the Senedd building.

The MSs denied they had broken the rules and said they had been meeting to discuss a piece of cross-party legislation, before consuming alcohol that had been bought off-premises.


The incident happened on December 8, 2020, just days after Mark Drakeford had ordered pubs and hospitality venues to stop selling alcohol, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus. At the time, cases were rising across Wales and the rest of the UK.

But it wouldn't be until mid-January 2021 that allegations around the Senedd drinking incident became public. All four of the attendees – Welsh Conservatives Paul Davies and Darren Millar, their party's chief of staff Paul Smith; and Welsh Labour's MS for Blaenau Gwent, Alun Davies – issued apologies but maintained no restrictions had been breached at the socially-distanced meeting.

A source from the Welsh Tories later told the PA news agency the group believed it had stayed within the rules because the alcohol was not bought from the Senedd site, nor was it served by catering staff.

Another man caught up in the allegations, then-Monmouth MS Nick Ramsay, denied being part of that meeting. It was later reported that Mr Ramsay, who lost his seat in last May's Senedd election, had been working on an article for our sister title, South Wales Argus at the time of the Senedd incident.

Despite the quickfire apologies, public outcry over the drinking incident continued and the story made UK national headlines. On January 23 last year, Paul Davies stepped down as leader of the Welsh Conservatives group in the Senedd, and was replaced by Andrew RT Davies.

At May's elections, the three Senedd members involved in the incident all retained their seats. But the investigation into their conduct remains open, and is being led by the Welsh Parliament's standards commissioner.

Because the investigation is ongoing, the commissioner's office would not reveal any information about its progress.

A spokesperson for the Senedd commissioner for standards told South Wales Argus this week: "The commissioner’s office deal with all complaints thoroughly and as quickly as possible. Section 16 of the National Assembly for Wales Commissioner for Standards Measure 2009 however prohibits the commissioner from disclosing any information about any specific complaint received."

The private catering firm at the Senedd was also investigated, by Cardiff Council's Shared Regulatory Services team. The council confirmed to the Argus this week that the investigation had concluded, and a caution had been issued to the company and designated premises supervisor, for supply of alcohol in contravention of the rules at that time.

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