Wales politics

Plaid Cymru denies Neil McEvoy complaints co-ordinated

Neil McEvoy
Image caption Neil McEvoy said he wanted to shine "a light on the murky waters of Cardiff Bay politics"

Plaid Cymru has denied claims that political lobbyists coordinated complaints made to the party against South Wales Central AM Neil McEvoy.

He said the Deryn firm of lobbyists has "orchestrated" a number of complaints about his conduct.

A Plaid source said: "Neil McEvoy has not provided any evidence that there was co-ordination."

Mr McEvoy was expelled from Plaid's assembly group earlier this week after a "breakdown of trust".

In a statement Deryn's chairman Huw Roberts said: "We have a strong track record on campaigning to tackle the harassment and abuse of women...today shows that we have quite a long way to go here in Wales."

Two directors of Deryn, Cathy Owens and Nerys Evans, are among the complainants.

In March 2017 an internal inquiry was announced after accusations were made against Mr McEvoy on social media.

In December the party referred some of the complaints it had received about his behaviour to the assembly's standards commissioner.

Mr McEvoy was able to force Plaid to release details of some of the complaints made against him before any official investigation was launched, using what is known as a "subject access request".

Image caption Neil McEvoy has sat as an independent AM since his suspension from the Plaid Cymru group

During a press conference on Friday morning the South Wales Central AM revealed that two directors of the Cardiff-based firm Deryn had made complaints about his conduct, as well as further complainants who worked with the firm.

He said he wanted to "to shine a light on the murky waters of Cardiff Bay politics and I am highlighting how some people operate".

"When whistleblowers started coming to be about issues concerning Deryn, that's when the campaign went into overdrive," claimed Mr McEvoy.

Last year Mr McEvoy raised concerns over a contract Deryn had with broadcasting regulator Ofcom to provide Welsh political monitoring services, when two of its employees served on Ofcom's advisory board in Wales.

Mr McEvoy added that further information about other complaints against him were due to be sent to him from Plaid Cymru by Monday.

'Distortion'

A spokesperson for Plaid Cymru said: "Neil McEvoy has failed to provide evidence that the complaints against him are coordinated in any way.

"He has also neglected to mention the fact that not all complaints against him have been referred to the Standards Commissioner. A number of separate complaints against Neil McEvoy remain with the party and are not related in any way to Deryn.

"Details of some of the complaints should not have been handed to Mr McEvoy and were done so in error. We wish to apologise unreservedly to the complainants for that."

A spokesperson for the Plaid Cymru assembly group added: "It is flatly untrue that Neil McEvoy was expelled from the Plaid Cymru assembly group for any reasons relating to lobbying companies.

"As was stated at the time, Neil McEvoy was suspended in March 2017 for breaching the group's code of conduct and numerous standing orders.

"Conflating party investigations into complaints against him with his expulsion from the assembly group appears to be a deliberate distortion of the facts by Mr McEvoy."

In a tweet Mr McEvoy questioned how there was no connection when the group decided to expel him "minutes" after he released a statement concerning complaints to the party about him.

Image caption Alun Ffred Jones called the complaints process "tortuous and difficult".

During his press conference Mr McEvoy also raised issues about Plaid Cymru chairman Alun Ffred Jones.

He claimed: "The public and party members will note that the Chair of Plaid Cymru, Alun Ffred, requested evidence from Nerys Evans to substantiate her allegation of bullying and intimidation that she made on Twitter.

"I do not consider this to be a neutral act."

Asked to respond to Mr McEvoy's comments, Mr Jones said: "Without going to the details, I refute that statement as he puts it.

"I always try to be neutral and fair to all members. I endeavoured to do so throughout this process, throughout this rather tortuous and difficult process."

Huw Roberts, chair of Deryn, said: "We are really proud of the work we do and the team we have built. We have a strong track record on campaigning to tackle the harassment and abuse of women, and in particular of women in public life.

"Today shows that we have quite a long way to go here in Wales, and it may now be more difficult for women to be confident in raising such matters.

"We look forward to seeing what steps Leanne Wood will be putting in place to ensure that a fresh approach is taken, and what efforts will be made to reduce the level of abuse by party members."

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