Serious questions have been raised over the Welsh Government’s decision to sack the former Chair of Sport Wales, and whether the publicly funded body is still “fit for purpose”.
Last week, the Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans announced that Dr Paul Thomas and Adele Baumgardt – chair and vice-chair, respectively – of the beleaguered Sport Wales board had been dismissed following a period of suspension after “an irretrievable breakdown in relationships” in the board’s leadership.
During First Minister’s Questions today, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies asked Carwyn Jones why his Government had decided to sack Dr Thomas, who was told by Welsh Government representatives upon his appointment that he was entering a “toxic environment” and that he was tasked with “tackling a dysfunctional and insular organisation.”
Mr Davies pointed to legal correspondence – seen by the Welsh Conservatives – between Dr Thomas and the Welsh Government’s deputy permanent secretary, James Price, where several complaints are made about the conduct of the previous Sport Wales Chair and the current CEO.
Mr Davies also suggested that not all members of the Welsh Government were supportive of the decision to dismiss Dr Thomas, in spite of Carwyn Jones’ protestations to the contrary.
Speaking outside the chamber, Andrew RT Davies said:
“If the allegations made within Dr Thomas’ letter are to be believed, then there is something very rotten at the heart of Sport Wales’ senior management team.
“Having met with Dr Thomas earlier today, he made some very serious allegations against the Welsh Government and Sport Wales around how he was treated during his time in post – and over the handling of his suspension and ultimate dismissal – which the Welsh Government now has a duty to investigate. Indeed, there are loud murmurings from members of the Welsh Government that not everyone was supportive of Dr Thomas’ sacking.
“Public confidence in Sport Wales, and the Welsh Government’s management of it, will have been badly damaged by this tawdry episode and one has to question whether it is still fit for purpose in its aim to support healthy living across Wales.”
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