THE judgement of two Welsh ministers who attended a dinner with a lobbyist and her client who's set to benefit from a £4m farm purchase by the Welsh Government has been brought into question.

Mabon ap Gwynfor, Senedd member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, has sent an open letter to the first minister in which he raises questions about the judgement of Welsh Government ministers Julie James and Jeremy Miles.

It was revealed in the Western Mail this week that the two ministers attended a meeting at a lobbyist's house which was also attended by Fiona Stewart, owner of Green Man Festival.

Informal and non-work related meetings do not need to be declared by ministers on the register of interests, although Green Man is a client of political consultancy firm Deryn - whose director, Cathy Owens, hosted the dinner at her home.


In his letter, Mr ap Gwynfor writes: "The fact that two Government ministers held a private or informal meeting at the home of a distinguished lobbyist (who was formerly a special adviser to the Government no less), in the company of the owner of the Green Man Festival - who would directly benefit from the Welsh Government's purchase of Gilestone Farm in Breconshire, raises serious questions about the judgment of the ministers in question."

He adds that it appears the ministers are in contravention of the ministerial code for "accepting gifts, hospitality or services from anyone which would, or might appear to, place him or her under an obligation."

The dinner gathering is reported to have taken place on May 23, only five days after it was publicly revealed that the Welsh Government had paid £4m for a farm which was expected to be leased exclusively to the owners of Green Man Festival. This was despite the fact that no full business plan had been presented to the Welsh Government.

In a Senedd committee meeting with senior civil servants last month it was revealed that a full business plan was only submitted by Green Man Festival to the Welsh Government to review on June 29.

During that meeting Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen accused Andrew Slade, director general of the government's economy department, of using "a lot of buzzwords" but not clarifying the Welsh Govenment's decision-making process.

The Plaid Cymru member's letter places further pressure on James and Miles following calls for them to step aside from any related decision making due to their attendance at the off-the-record dinner party.

Welsh Conservatives' leader Andrew RT Davies has written to the first minister and said that Ms James, whose department is responsible for planning and the environment, and Mr Miles, who is minister for education and the Welsh language, should "recuse themselves" from any related decisions.

He said James had put herself in a “compromising position” by attending the party as alternative uses for the farm, which have been raised in relation to its potential management by the Green Man Festival, would require planning permission. 

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