By Karim El-Bar
LONDON (AA) - The leader of the Welsh Conservative Party resigned Saturday after being embroiled in a scandal that saw him drinking alcohol on the estate of the Welsh parliament.
The revelation came days after consuming alcohol was banned on licensed premises in Wales as part of wider coronavirus restrictions.
Paul Davies said he was standing down with immediate effect because the scandal had become a “distraction.”
Wales is one of the four constituent nations of the UK, alongside England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The country also has its devolved parliament, known as the Senedd.
Davies drank alcohol Dec. 8 on the estate of the Senedd with Welsh Conservative Party’s chief whip Darren Millar, Welsh Conservative Party Chief of Staff Paul Smith and former Welsh government's minister Alun Davies, the latter belonged to Welsh Labor, but was suspended after the scandal.
The incident took place only four days after the pub alcohol ban took effect and there were reports of another incident involving drinking Dec. 9. An internal Senedd investigation said the event was a “possible breach of regulations.”
In a statement, Davies said of the incidents: “They have 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, however, went on to insist: “I broke no actual COVID-19 regulations.”
In a separate statement, Millar said of the events of Dec. 8-9: “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 matters with colleagues.”
“While I am advised that I did not breach coronavirus regulations I am very sorry for my actions, especially given the impact of the tough restrictions that people and businesses are enduring,” he added.
“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.”
Meanwhile, government data released Saturday showed that 1,348 additional people died from COVID-19, bringing the number of deaths to 97,329.
There were also 33,552 confirmed cases, bringing the total to 3,617,459. More than 5.8 million people have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.