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Darren Millar welsh senedd.png
UK News

Christian politician resigns as Conservative chief whip in Wales

by Cara Bentley

The Christian politician Darren Millar has resigned from his front bench role because of the fallout from a story about a group of politicians drinking alcohol in the tea room in the Welsh Senedd in December. 

The criticisms were due to the fact that four days earlier, Wales had introduced a ban on restaurants, cafes and pubs selling alcohol to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Darren Millar was joined by the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Paul Davies, who has also resigned, and by Labour's Alun Davies MS, who was suspended, and another Tory MS on one of the two evenings. Millar said he does not believe he broke the rules but has resigned anyway. 

Mr Millar, the member of the Senedd for Clwyd West, said in a statement: "This has been a difficult week. I want to apologise to my family, colleagues and constituents for any embarrassment that some of the media stories may have caused in recent days. 

"There have been some wildly inaccurate and unfair reports, so I want to set out the truth. 

"As has been the case in most weeks since September when the Hybrid Senedd was sitting in Cardiff Bay, on both the 8th and 9th December last year I used the self-serve arrangement that were made available for Senedd Members. On both evenings I served myself a pre-ordered, pre-prepared meal that was reheated in the microwave and ate it while drinking an alcoholic beverage and discussing work matter with colleagues."

He continued: "Social distancing was maintained throughout these working dinners and it simply did not occur to either me, my colleagues or the catering team that the arrangements may have been inappropriate. 

"There was a member of catering staff present in the team room for a short time after my arrival on the 8th December but she did not serve me a drink, nor did I request one. In fact, I encouraged the member of staff to go home and close up the counter as it had been a long day for her. No members of catering staff were present on the 9th December and the counter was closed for the whole evening. 

"While I am advised that I did not breach coronavirus regulation I am very sorry for my actions, especially given the impact of the tough restrictions that people and business are enduring. 

"For this reason and given that Paul Davies has resigned as Welsh Conservative group Leader in the Senedd, I have decided to step down from my front bench role in the Welsh Parliament."

Mr Millar, who remains an MS, added that the is co-operating with investigations. 

Earlier on in the pandemic, Mr Millar challenged the Welsh government over its decision to close places of worship. 

He told Premier in October: "Frankly, Wales is a country where we have churches and chapels on every corner and they're doing a huge amount of positive work in their local communities, even more so because of the coronavirus pandemic. What sustains people of faith is their relationship with God, so their spiritual nourishment that comes from being able to attend church on a Sunday is obviously very important. "

He was praised by some church leaders for "standing up for people of faith."

Labour's Rebecca Evans MS, responded at the time by saying she appreciates the importance of churches but that: "We can't look to every single type of setting, because we're looking at people's contacts in the round and trying to minimise the number of contacts that we have. But I do appreciate the difficulties that it will cause people."

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