09/02/2012 Dragon's Eye


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Gym membership worth more than �2,000. Rugby and cricket tickets


worth �800. The Chief Executive's parking fine costing �110. Just


some of the things your money was being used for at Awema, a charity


which was supposed to promote equality and diversity. This is


Good evening. Conflicts of interest that included a father voting on


his daughter's pay rise from �20,000 in 2008 to �50,000 today.


Irregular and infrequent board meetings. A failure to meet


statutory deadlines for filing accounts with Companies House and


the Charity Commission. These things and more have led to the


Welsh Government's report into allegations of financial


irregularities at Awema, Wales' leading ethnic minority


organisation, to comment that failings in control and governance


within Awema permeated the whole of the organisation and suggest that


the trustees, including the CEO Naz Malik, had little regard to the


Tonight, the organisation's Chair Rita Austin said the Awema Board


would carry out its responsibility to manage an orderly exit for the


He is the race relations charity boss who is at the centre of a


massive row. This is the third week we have been looking at the


situation that has seen All Wales Ethnic Minority Association's


funding suspended. There were serious concerns over bullying and


financial mismanagement. There were concerns with the financial


controls in the charity. I will be passing a copy of the report to the


Assembly. Today, we saw the report looking at the financial management


of the charity. It said they were unable to concern whether public


funding that Awema had received was utilised for the purposes it had


been provided for. Also, there were serious shortcomings and failings


in governments and financial management. We do not want to


prejudice the work of the Audit Office. They have accepted they


will undertake this review and it is important they are left to get


on with it. But people want to know if we Art emanating funding and we


are. Last week, we reported how Awema's lawyers had advised that


Naz Malik should be suspended. The chair just gave him a written


warning. When I got into the chair, we looked at the solicitor's advice


and we did give it consideration. By you dismissed it in the end?


don't think it is fair to say we dismissed it. You chose not to


follow? I chose not to follow that aspect of it. Over the years and


despite complaints and allegations and investigations into Awema and


its chief executive Naz Malik, they continued to receive public money,


nearly a million pounds. So now, other bodies representing ethnic


minorities are asking how Awema have continued to be funded. The


South East Wales Racial Equality Council and does not receive money


from Awema, but does similar work. I am not sure what Awema has done


in my area. I do get a lot of clients coming in to ask for help


and support in things which Awema is there to provide and I know I


have at times cent people down there. Some of them have come back


to me and said, can you provide the support because the support here is


what they require. So that is something else that should be


looked at. Certainly, some of the work has been duplicated. What


could happen next? Well, Wales's for equality councils receive money


from Awema. They should now take over the work of Awema. Others say


they are worried about the situation at Awema affecting other


charities. There is a feeling that, here we go again, and it should not


be the case in terms of lumping all black organisations and individuals


to get her. Yes, I am generalising, but the nature of it, as I said, is


taking this for what it is and it is not about black individuals or


black organisations who cannot manage. There are many examples


where organisations and individuals are making valuable contributions


and that should be recognised. weeks ago when we first approached


Naz Malik for an interview, he said it would not be appropriate for him


to comment was awash government was still investigating. Well, that


report is published today, but Naz Malik has been instructed not to


conduct an interview. We tried to catch him on his way to work, but


he has not turned up. The serious failings at Awema had been a shock


to many, but those who have worked there over the years, it was no


surprise. What people are concerned with now is what will happen to


beat community that Awema was set up to help?


Arwyn Jones reporting. As you saw in his report, among the many other


inquiries now underway is one looking at the historical funding


of Awema by the Welsh Government. It was nine years ago that Dragon's


Eye first broke the story of allegations of financial


irregularities and bullying at the organisation. After that a review


was commissioned by the then Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart. It


recommended in 2004 that funding for new projects be stopped until


procedures were tightened up. It wasn't. In 2007 the then Chair


resigned after writing to the Welsh Government alleging financial


malpractice. Kirsty Williams is the leader of the Welsh Liberal


Democrats. What is your reaction to today's


report? I am shocked by that comment. It is a damning indictment


of how taxpayers' money was spent by this organisation. Why did Welsh


ministers allow this to continued, despite warnings over the years?


That was not the function of this report. It makes clear that Awema


is not a Welsh government-sponsored body and it is not within the remit


of the report to examine the Welsh government's response. It was not


the responsibility of the report to establish that, but it demonstrates


that the concerns been raised in 2004 and 2007 when not acted upon


by Welsh ministers. Instead, despite warnings not to give the


organisation more money, the Welsh government poured money into this


organisation without carrying out the appropriate checks that the


money was being spent wisely. We need answers from ministers. Why


did they ignore independent advice and warnings from people who had


experience of this organisation? Why were they ignored, why did


money go to this organisation from beat Watch government and why did


the government not check it was getting good value for money?


government did commission the Audit Office to look into the history of


the funding of Awema, so it seems they are trying to get to the


bottom of it. It is a bit like shutting the stable door before --


after the horse has bolted. The government was warned about giving


money to this organisation. Both in 2004 and 2007. It is a bit rich now


for Jane Hutt to be sent at this late stage after a �0.4 million of


taxpayers' money has been spent, that they are taking this situation


seriously. What do you want to happen now? We need clear answers


from the Welsh government. It is clear to me that what they are


doing, publishing a report at 4pm on the Thursday, they are not


coming forward with the answers that are needed. I want to know


what happened in the Welsh Assembly government to ignore warnings over


many years about this organisation? Why did they not take it seriously


and act sooner and why did they allow this situation to develop? At


best it was negligence. At worst it is time to look at the interesting


connections between the Welsh Assembly ministers, this


organisation and membership of the Labour Party. And where do you


stand in terms of your view of what happened and the reasons for it?


best, it is negligence on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, but


now we need some clear answers from the Welsh ministers about why they


did not at previously. They cannot continue to hide behind


investigations and saying they cannot comment. We need clarity


about why the Welsh ministers did not act when they had the


opportunity. Where does the responsibility lie in your view?


Ultimately, with the Welsh Assembly government. Some of them were at


the table in 2,000 form and continue to sit around be -- in


2004 and continued to sit around the Cabinet table. I welcome the


fact the Welsh Audit Office is looking into this matter, but it is


not sustainable for ministers to hide behind investigations. We need


clarity about why the government did not act to protect Welsh


taxpayers' money and the interest of the communities that this


charity claimed to be representing. Should there be a debate over this?


We absolutely need one and a clear answer from the ministers. It is


not good enough to publish this report before an Assembly recess


and hope it will go away. It is too serious for that. Thank you.


For the third week in a row we asked the Welsh Government to


provide a minister to be interviewed on Dragon's Eye about


the way they have handled the situation at Awema. They declined,


explaining that the Equalities Minister Jane Hutt was providing


one single interview for all media outlets. You saw her in Arwyn's


report. I'm joined now by two leading


members of other organisations working with our diverse


communities - David Phillips from South East Wales Racial Equality


Council and Michael Flynn from Black Voluntary Sector Network


Wales. Welcome to the programme. What is your reaction to the report,


First, we are very relieved that we've had the report published. My


initial reaction to the content is quite devastating really for the


organisation involved. For us we are just happy that we've come to a


resolution, really happy that Jane Hutt made a statement today


regarding the funding. We are just hoping that we can move on as soon


as possible and engage in real conversation with the Government to


help them move on with this. those views that you share, David


Phillips? Yes they are. We've been worried about the impact of this


ongoing saga for the reputation of the qualities sector in general. It


is good to have a resolution. It is not good that they found that there


were so many things amiss. In terms of the role of Awema, it was an


umbrella organisation that sent funding to organisations around


Walesment neither of your oorgss in recent times received money from


Awema. But can you give an idea of the projects that are going on up


and down Wales that Awema funding may have gone into? Most of the


projects would have provided services or training opportunities,


the sorts of things that would help people from disadvantaged


backgrounds to be able to play on a more level playing field. It could


have been supported learning, job skills, it could have been a whole


range of things around education, confidence building. Those sorts of


things. What sort of things does your organisation do? It is


important to differentiate between the Awema situation and this report


and the damning content of what it contains. With the realistic and


good work carried out by the organisations, the grass roots


organisations throughout the country, who are providing great


services to vulnerable people throughout the country... Can you


give me an idea what sort of services? In terms of the kind of


things that your organisation does. For example David has given us an


idea. We are called the Black Voluntary Sector Network Wales and


we help to support and represent issues for grass roots level to a


ministerial level that BME people may face. We help the Welsh


Assembly Government develop policies and see how they impact on


different communities across qualities throughout the country.


We want to make sure that everyone in Wales has a chance to


participate in service provision and opportunities available to them.


So important work for giving voices to people who sometimes


historically haven't had much of a voice, David. How damaging is the


controversy over Awema have the allegations been to that work?


has been very damaging, but the fact that over the last three weeks


we've had the Welsh Government act in reasonably decisively I hope


that means we can draw a line under this. And the partners within the


European projects will be able to come together and work together to


share the load of taking that project forward. And in the future


that the Welsh Assembly Government will look to a wider range of


partners. I think one of the weaknesses has been that the Welsh


Government relied on one organisation as the main conduit


into the BME communities. There are a large number of BME community


organisations that can play a part in being that conduit, people on


the ground with those connections. That's an interesting point. What


should happen to the European funding that has been going to


organisations? How should that be channelled now It is important that


they carry on with that fund sog that the organisations that are --


fund sog that the organisations that are involved get the money


from Awema. We wouldn't want to go back to Brussels. Wales doesn't get


enough European money, in my opinion. I don't think there's a


single organisation that could step in and take over or that would want


to. Forgive me for interrupting, but Michael, would you share the


points perhaps about the structure, that using one organisation to


filter money through hasn't been the best way to do things anyway?


There are really good organisations large and small within the country.


There are regional equality networks, new and up and coming


organisations who should be part of that process. I'm grateful to you


both for coming on to the programme. Thank you.


The three opposition parties in the Assembly are calling on the Welsh


Government to publish details of its meetings with lobbyists. The UK


Government, which already does this, is now also consulting on whether


there should be a legal register of people seeking to influence


Ministers. There are calls for that to cover Wales, as concerns


increase that Cardiff Bay is already falling behind Westminster


and Whitehall in openness and In Britain lobbying has been called


a �2 billion industry. Its supporters say it is about


improving policy and legislation. Its critics have other ideas.


Lobbyists are not adding to the knowledge of Parliament. Their role


is parasitic. They are living off Parliament. And they are hear to


sell their talents and persuasive tal tonight the highest bidder. It


is about money. This is Central Lobby, the heart of Parliament.


Members of the public can meet their MPs here even without an


appointment. There are real concerns about the growing


Battalion of professional lobbyists and their impact on the political


process. It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. I'm talking


about lobbying... These gates may keep the public out of Downing


Street, but what about the lobbyists? In December a former


Conservative MP was secretly recorded boasting he had access to


the very heart of Government. A claim denied by Downing Street.


Many lobbyists say the industry has to change. I think the time has


come for statutory regulation. We've always voluntarily disclosed


our client and been on the voluntary register, but I think


public trust is so low in our industry we have to have a


statutory register. Many organisations want access to the


core doors of power and are willing to pay for it. The consultation


will look at how to define a lobbyist and what information


should be gathered about them and their clients. There are questions


over whether trade unions and charities should be included and


whether we should be told how much companies spend on lobbying. The UK


Government is also asking whether any new register should cover those


lobbying the devolved Governments, including the Assembly. This is not


just about Westminster. We need to have a proper debate about how we


do this in a way that encourages people to be involved in the


democratic process but ensures that it is open and transparent. It is


something that could really increase people's trust in


Government if we have more transparency and more information


about the roles of these kinds of corporate often interests in the


process. The Assembly in the Welsh Government currently set their own


rules. Many want that to continue but argue Wales needs its own


statutory register. We are in this building. Look at the glass. It is


supposed to be transparent, but of course it's not. Until you are


seeing where the Ministers, who the Ministers are meet manager, what


organisations are pressing them, it is not open Government. This week


Gareth Huws chaired a debate on the future of the media with visitors


to the Senedd. He said when he previously raised the issue he


received an anonymous call warning him it was none of his business.


don't take these things seriously but there's a serious obvious


message there, that these people don't want too see, you know, don't


want the floodlights to open up on what they are doing. I think that's


worrying. The UK Government publishes a list of all meetings


its Ministers have with lobbyists. There is no similar list here. So


while we could find out which organisations have met the


Secretary of State for Wales we've had to use freedom of information


laws to ask the same details about the First Minister of Wales. If you


have nothing to hide, let us see what is going on behind the closed


doors in the Welsh Government. If you have nothing to hide, you have


nothing to fear. So go ahead and publish these mights, show us who


you are meeting, let's get this register et up and see leadership


on this issue. All three opposition parties now take the same stance.


certainly think we should have a register of Lloyds Banking


Groupists here in sweels that everything is above board and


transparent. I think there's a legitimate reason as to why


Government Ministers should record former meetings that they have with


Lloyds Banking Groupists. Jonathan Morgan has gone through the so-


called revolving door into the world of lobbying. We live in a


small country. Wales is Tyney. I think if there were any public


affairs officers or companies that were engaged in dodgy dealings,


they would be found out pretty quickly. I think we've got a good


self-regulating system in Cardiff. Since last year the Assembly can


pass laws under health and education. With more powers will


come more lobbyists. Any suggestion that the UK is leave Wales behind


will concern many political observers.


A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Welsh Ministers are subject


to the Ministerial Code - the principles of which are virtually


identical to the Code which applies to UK Ministers. We would therefore


carefully consider any new or revised guidelines produced by the


UK Government in relation to lobbying, if we felt there was


merit in applying it, or a version of it, here in Wales."


I'm joined now by Nick Ramsay, chair of the Conservative group in


the Assembly, and Dewi Knight from Public Affairs Cymru. Welcome to


the programme. Dewi Knight, let's talk about what lobbying is first


of all. You can give me an example of how it works. As a lobbyist what


do you do? Lobbying or public affairs activities are integ troop


the democratic space -- integral to the democratic space in Wales. We


work with Assembly Ministers to provide better laws for Wales.


you say better law, is it about representing the interests of a


specific group, whether it is a charity or a private company? Are


you trying to influence the Government to act in the way that


they want? Well, as anyone would do. I work for a university that is


interested in widening access today cation. We are trying to make that


better for the country as a whole, so we have better access to


education. I think it goes back to transparency. We've looked at the


way the UK coalition Government is going, so that when the public have


elected their politicians and those politicians have gone into


government they can see how they are representing the views that


they are. I don't see why we shouldn't go down that line in


Wales. It is supposed to be a transparent decky, what have the


Government got to hide. Dewi Knight, would you object to such a


register? No, I want. The UK Government says it is going to


consult with the devolved administrations and legislatures.


I'm not aware there's been discussions with the Assembly


commission or Government. We'll be keen to see perhaps the Wales-based


register, we could take the lead. understand you have concerns about


the approach that's being taken at a London level in terms of the


distinguishing between commercial interests and charity interests?


Public Affairs Cymru we don't make a distinction, whether they are


charities, or commercial public affairs firms. In Wales we think


everyone who is a lobbyist, whether a charity or commercial firm,


should be expected to adhere to the same sort of conduct, so that AMs


like Nick or Ministers are aware of how public affairs professionals


should conduct themselves. That sounds fair enough, Nick Ramsay.


Why isn't the Government in London doing this in a broader way? To be


fair to Dewi and Public Affairs Cymru they are an excellent example


of how public affairs can work. I hope this doesn't sound too


negative to our lobbyists. Many of us as Assembly Members have a lot


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