PracticePeople In PracticeWelsh minister quits over police probe

Welsh minister quits over police probe

Michael German, deputy first minister of Wales, stepped down yesterday after an investigation over his former role in the Welsh Joint Education Committee was referred to the police.

The WJEC has asked the South Wales police to look into German’s business dealings during his time as head of its European unit.

An audit by mid-tier firm Bentley Jennison, and commissioned by the WJEC in March, examined credit card expenditure and general financial controls.

In a letter to Rhodri Morgan, first minister of the National Assembly of Wales, German wrote: ‘The continuing drip-drip effect of unsubstantiated leaks, allegations and speculation is now having an adverse impact upon the work of the Assembly.

‘There is still no prima facie case for formal action. I am increasingly frustrated that our political opponents should continue to seek to exploit this situation in order to destabilise the government of Wales.’

In a reply posted on the Assembly website, Morgan wrote: ‘I accept that the public has now been persuaded that the status of the police investigation has moved on a stage. It is better therefore for the health of the partnership government and the National Assembly itself that you take this step now.’

After German spoke publicly on the audit, the WJEC detailed its comments on some of the issues raised.

But after the enquiry a WJEC report said: ‘German’s responses do not appear to address the specific questions put to him nor are they consistent with information held by the WJEC.’

German, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group, told the auditors he had not used his corporate credit card after October 1998. But WJEC records show the card was still in use in February 1999.

German has nominated Jenny Randerson to serve as acting deputy first minister in his absence.

Links

Welsh Lib Dem leader faces probe

Morgan’s letter

German’s letter

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