FOUR Politicians cleared of code of conduct breaches for drinking during a Wales-wide booze ban may have thought the rules didn’t apply to the Senedd. 

The Welsh Parliament's Standards Commissioner, Douglas Bain, had today published his long-awaited report into the incident which led to the resignation of then Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies and apologies from those involved. 

He cleared them, in a report which was accepted by a committee of four Senedd Members, on the basis the politicians may have been unaware rules set in the Senedd for the Welsh public applied in the building where the laws are made. 

The report clears Davies, Conservative colleague Darran Millar and Labour’s Alun Davies as well as Nick Ramsey, a former Conservative who lost his seat at last May’s election, of breaking the code of conduct by potentially bringing the Senedd into disrepute. 

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, during the five-hour meeting. 

It took place 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. 

In mid-January 2021 news of the Senedd drinking incident became public. All four of the attendees issued apologies but maintained no restrictions had been breached at the socially-distanced meeting. 

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The Senedd Members hadn’t broken any laws in consuming alcohol as the regulations banned the sale and supply by licensees, rather than consumption. 

The commissioner stated that it may have been unlawful for the caterer, Charlton House, to sell or supply alcohol in the Senedd tea-room but not to drink it. 

The commissioner says the members may have been unaware the regulations made banning the supply of alcohol applied in the tea room 

Today’s report states: “The Commissioner confirmed to the Committee that this finding was in relation to the lack of awareness of the Tea Room’s exact classification, as opposed to a general lack of awareness of the regulations and their effect.  

“In view of this, the Committee sought, through its own inquiry, to establish with each Member what their understanding was of the regulations at the time of the incident.  

“Each of the Members told the Committee they were aware of the regulations and that hospitality premises were unable to serve food and required to close after 6pm save for certain exceptions, and that licensed premises were restricted in selling alcohol, but that they believed this would not apply to the Members’ Tea Room because they considered the Tea Room to be akin to a workplace canteen.  

“Also, they assumed that as the service of alcohol was being made available in the Tea Room, it was within the prevailing law.” 

The report has been heavily redacted, and the members not named as they were cleared, although the catering firm Charlton House was issued with a caution by the licensing authority for Cardiff last year. 

The report also highlighted a second incident the following day where beer was drank and bought from a shop in the tea room, but it is unclear who was there. 

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