The head of the Welsh Conservative Party has stepped down after he was spotted boozing in the Welsh Parliament days after an alcohol ban in pubs came into law.
Paul Davies said that the controversy hanging over him during the past month had become a "distraction" so he's resigning with "immediate effect," despite party colleagues urging him to remain.
The Tory leader said he was "truly sorry" for his actions on 8 December, when he was caught drinking with a group of politicians. The following day he's reported to have drunk alcohol again.
He said he's "damaged the trust and respect that I have built up over 14 years in the Welsh Parliament with my colleagues and the wider Conservative Party but, more importantly, with the people of Wales," he said.
He insisted that "no drunk or disorderly behaviour" took place and that the lawmakers "did not have to be escorted out of the building as some reports have suggested."
"What we did was to have some alcohol with a meal we heated up in a microwave, which was a couple of glasses of wine on the Tuesday and a beer on the Wednesday."
"I broke no actual COVID-19 regulations," he said.
Paul Davies’ statement explaining why he’s resigning as Welsh Conservative senedd leader pic.twitter.com/BYFu6YlsJZ— Adrian Masters (@adrianmasters84) January 23, 2021
Conservative chief whip Darren Millar, the party's chief of staff Paul Smith, and former Welsh Government minister Alun Davies, who is currently suspended from the privileges of Senedd Labour Group membership, were drinking with Davies.
Miller also announced his resignation from his front bench position.
The incident happened four days after the introduction of a prohibition on the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol on licensed premises, although off-licenses were permitted to sell alcohol until 10 pm amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to an internal investigation by the Senedd Commission "alcohol was consumed by five individuals," four of whom were elected members, in the Senedd's official tearoom.
The inquiry found that "a possible breach of regulations" occurred and therefore the event has been reported to Cardiff Council.
This incident comes in the wake of new polling, which shows the Welsh Conservatives just behind the governing Labour Party.
Voting Intention (Wales)— The Core (@SocialM85897394) January 19, 2021
Labour on the slide
LAB: 36% (-7)
CON: 33% (+1)
PLC: 17% (+4)
REF: 5% (NEW)
GRN: 4% (+1)
LDM: 3% (=)
, 11-14 Jan.
Changes w/ 26-30 Oct.