News website intervenes to say Hannah Blythyn not source of Gething leak

Hannah Blythyn was not the source of a leak which triggered her sacking from the Welsh Government, the website which originally reported the story has said.

The Labour former social partnership minister was removed from the Welsh Government by Vaughan Gething in May, after messages from the Covid pandemic were leaked to the media.

The leaked messages showed Mr Gething claiming he would delete all correspondence from a WhatsApp group of Welsh ministers.

Delyn MS Ms Blythyn said this week in the Senedd that she could “look all my colleagues who sit on these benches in the eye” and say she had not leaked to the media.

The embattled First Minister told the Senedd on Wednesday the messages could only have come from her phone, adding that there had been a “breach of trust”.

But Nation.Cymru, the website which originally broke the story, has now said she was not the source of the information.

A statement from its chief executive, Mark Mansfield, said protecting journalistic sources was very important, and added: “Given the strong public interest and importance of this story and out of concern for Hannah Blythyn’s wellbeing, we have decided that the right thing to do is to state publicly that she was not the source of our story and that at no stage before or since publication of it have we had any contact with her about it.”

The First Minister has come under sustained attack in recent months for his decision to sack Ms Blythyn, and over a series of rows concerning donations he took while running to be Welsh Labour leader.

This led to the collapse of a co-operation agreement between his party and Plaid Cymru and he subsequently lost a non-binding vote of no-confidence in the Senedd.

On Wednesday Mr Gething said that the leaks “could only have been of one member’s phone”.

He provided no evidence publicly to support his claim, but said he would “rather not go through this detail in public”.

Sitting behind Mr Gething, Ms Blythyn could be seen shaking her head as the First Minister spoke.

On Tuesday she said in a personal statement that she was not shown any evidence before her sacking, nor was she made aware she was under investigation.

The King with Vaughan Gething standing at the bottom of a staircase
The King with First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething at Mansion House Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA)

The First Minister’s decision to sack Ms Blythyn followed reporting by Nation.Cymru, which featured a message posted to a ministerial group chat in August 2020 by Mr Gething, saying that he was “deleting the messages in this group”.

He said the leaked message was from a section of an iMessage group chat with other Labour ministers and related to internal discussions within the Senedd Labour group.

Mr Gething previously told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry that lost WhatsApp messages were not deleted by him, but by the Welsh Parliament’s IT team during a security rebuild.

He denied the leaked message contradicted the evidence he had given to the inquiry, adding that it did not relate to pandemic decision-making but “comments that colleagues make to and about each other”.

The First Minister faces a fresh crunch vote next week, as the Welsh Conservatives have tabled a motion in the hopes of compelling him to publish the evidence he used to sack Ms Blythyn.