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Neil McEvoy is a Welsh politician who has represented the South Wales Central region at the National Assembly for Wales since 2016.[3] Formerly representing Plaid Cymru, he was temporarily expelled from the party in 2018 and sits as an Independent Assembly Member.[4] He was elected to the Assembly on the Plaid Cymru regional list, under the Additional Member System.[5]

Cllr

Neil McEvoy

Neil McEvoy AM (28092346611).jpg
McEvoy, photographed in 2016
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for South Wales Central
In office
5 May 2016 – May 2021
Preceded byLeanne Wood
Parliamentary groupSits as an independent in the National Assembly[1]
Personal details
BornCardiff, Wales
Political partyLabour - 2003
Plaid Cymru 2003 [2]
Children1
OccupationCouncillor and Assembly Member
ProfessionTeacher, politician
Websiteneilmcevoy.wales

Early life and careerEdit

Born in Cardiff,[6] McEvoy has both English and Irish heritage through his father, whilst his mother's father came to Cardiff from Yemen.[6] McEvoy previously trained and worked as a teacher of modern languages.[7] He lives in Cardiff with his wife Ceri.[8]

Political careerEdit

McEvoy was elected as Labour Councillor for Riverside in 1999[9] and later became vice-chair of the Labour council group, he defected to Plaid Cymru in 2003.[10] He lost his seat in Riverside in 2004 [9] but was elected in 2008 in the Fairwater ward.[7] He then became Deputy Leader of Cardiff Council between 2008-2012 under a Liberal Democrat-Plaid Cymru coalition.[11] In 2012 he was re-elected to represent Fairwater.

In September 2012, despite Plaid's decision not to put forward any candidates for Police and Crime Commissioner elections, McEvoy said that he wanted to stand for the PCC for South Wales Police.[12] McEvoy did not stand, Plaid did not put forward a candidate, and subsequently former MP Alun Michael won the position for Welsh Labour.

McEvoy stood as a constituency candidate for Cardiff West in the 2016 Assembly election, which saw Plaid Cymru's share of the vote increase by 11.9%. The incumbent AM, Labour's Mark Drakeford, saw his majority reduced to 1,176 votes,[13] with the Conservatives in third place.[14]

In the run-up to the 2017 Cardiff Council elections, Wales Online described McEvoy as "arguably the most divisive frontline elected politician in Wales right now" who, despite being "at the forefront of an unprecedented growth of Plaid support and membership in Cardiff" had a "sometimes difficult relationship" with his adopted party, Plaid Cymru.[15]

McEvoy has, contrary to the policy of Plaid Cymru, supported the continuation of the right-to-buy scheme in Wales.[16] He has also expressed his opposition to the Welsh Government's "Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill" which would see most forms of corporal punishment prohibited.[17]

In August 2019 McEvoy drew media coverage when he gave an Assembly speech informing First Minister Mark Drakeford of costs of up to £245 to change lightbulbs under the Welsh Government Warm Homes/Arbed Am Byth scheme.[18] Drakeford responded to the claims with a letter stating that costs of £245 represented work including lighting fitting in "not less than 80% of all fixed outlets" in homes, as opposed to £245 for individual lightbulb fittings.[18] McEvoy responded by accusing the First Minister of discussing the matter with Arbed Am Byth alone, and not investigating contractors directly.[18] He states he is unable to disclose details of his "whistle-blowers" to the First Minister but would be contacting the Auditor General for Wales.[18]

McEvoy was included in a list of the AMs with the largest budgets for staff and constituency office costs in the Assembly.[19] He was described as budgeting £115,865 for his office,[19] which McEvoy described as necessary to deal with "an enormous amount of casework" and stated his "office is far busier than the local Westminster MP".[19] His budget was the largest of any AMs in the Assembly.[19]

2019 Plaid Cymru conference debatesEdit

McEvoy has contributed to the debate around the Plaid Cymru conference, which is scheduled for 4 and 5 October in Swansea. He has voiced opinions on matters including the election for a Chair. Incumbent Chair Alun Ffred Jones, who has presided over the party during McEvoy's disciplinary issues, is running against Dr Dewi Evans,[20] who is seen as an ally of McEvoy, and who was nominated alongside seven other prospective party officials[21] by McEvoy's home Plaid branch of West Cardiff.[21] Dr Evans has been arguing for reform of the party's extension system.[20] Candidates nominated by the Cardiff West constituency party include a former barrister who has represented McEvoy, and other perceived allies.[20]

Alun Ffred Jones, in response to Dr Evans proposals, has argued that the role of Chair does not extend to re-admitting expelled members, and that the Plaid National Conference would need to discuss issues such as McEvoy's membership of the party.[20] Plaid leader Adam Price wrote an op-ed for Nation.Cymru criticising "reports of a concerted attempt by some non-members of Plaid Cymru to intervene in our democracy", a criticism which some commentators have said is a reference to McEvoy's efforts during the Plaid conference to replace incumbent Chair Jones.[21] Plaid AM Rhun ap Iorwerth made a tweet regarding McEvoy which stated "Don’t misunderstand me. His personality is a problem, but it goes far beyond ‘not liking [McEvoy]. If anyone – for reasons of personality or otherwise – bullies, undermines, threatens, challenges legally… time after time… it’s a problem."[21]

Prospective contest of 2021 Cardiff West seatEdit

The issues with McEvoy's 2019 membership dispute with the party are particularly acute given his stated intention to again contest Cardiff West Assembly Election against the now First Minister Mark Drakeford.[22] Plaid view the seat as an important target given the close result in 2016, and McEvoy would likely split the vote should both he and a Plaid Cymru candidate stand.

Recording of the Standards CommissionerEdit

Senedd Commissioner for Standards Sir Roderick Evans resigned on 11 November 2019 after audio transcripts were revealed containing what McEvoy described as "bias", "really sexist views" about "female lawyers"[23] as well as comments that former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood should "wind her neck in".[23] The transcripts were quoted in the chamber by Assembly Brexit Party leader Mark Reckless, who later withdrew the comments on the request of the speaker, Elin Jones.[23] The speaker subsequently ordered a security sweep of the assembly estate. McEvoy later came forward to state he was the source of the recordings, which he said were made on his mobile phone in meeting rooms in the Senedd.[24] Sir Roderick said McEvoy's conduct was "wholly unacceptable", and Jones requested that South Wales Police investigate the recordings.[25]

ControversiesEdit

In November 2011 in a Facebook post, McEvoy accused Welsh Women's Aid of "publicly funded child abuse" and claimed they supported women in breaking court orders on fathers' access to children.[26] He was subsequently suspended by Plaid Cymru, and after investigation was allowed to return. McEvoy apologised for the words he used, but did not withdraw the allegations.[11]

In Council elections in May 2011, Welsh Labour ward opponent Michael Michael distributed leaflets of Only Fools and Horses character Del Boy with McEvoy's face imposed on them.[27] McEvoy subsequently sued Michael for libel, but withdrew the case in December 2015. In January 2016, McEvoy agreed to the courts wishes to pay Michael £120,000 in legal costs. The sum represented a quarter of the cost of the preliminary issues, and all costs after April 2013.[28] McEvoy paid an initial sum of £50,000, and agreed a payment plan with Michael and his lawyers, which included Michael having a legal charge imposed on McEvoy's home.[28]

In 2012, while a councillor, he presented a petition in the Welsh language, resulting in an argument with representatives of other parties. Despite protests, Councillor McEvoy declined to speak in English at the council meeting.[29]

After being elected to the Senedd in May 2016, McEvoy kept his position as a councillor on Cardiff Council, receiving the councillor's basic allowance of £13,300 in addition to the Senedd salary of £64,000. His Labour Party opponents described this as hypocrisy, saying that he had previously said it was wrong for people in public office to be a councillor and to work in another job.[30]

In March 2017 a Cardiff Council tribunal found a comment that McEvoy made to a council officer after a tenant's eviction hearing in 2015 amounted to "bullying behaviour".[31] The Adjudication Panel for Wales ruled he broke Cardiff council's code of conduct but did not bring the council into disrepute. After the hearing, Mr McEvoy described the panel proceedings as a "farce", but Plaid chairman Alun Ffred Jones said the matter was "serious because it involves bullying".[32] McEvoy was subsequently suspended from the Plaid Cymru Senedd group on 7 March 2017[31] and reinstated two weeks later.[33] A Plaid Cymru disciplinary panel was to consider the complaints later in the Autumn.[34]

In September 2017, McEvoy was suspended again, after a unanimous decision by Plaid's Assembly group, following accusations that he had undermined Plaid Cymru's policy on council housing.[35] In December 2018 McEvoy was referred to the Assembly Standards Commissioner after he was accused by his former office manager, Michael Deem,[36] of misusing Assembly funds for printing leaflets and recruiting staff for party political, rather than Assembly work.[36] Deem refused to comment on media reports, and McEvoy responded by stating that he "will continue to ask the difficult questions that some people don't want asked".[36]

In January 2018 he was expelled from the Plaid Cymru group in the Welsh Assembly,[37] with a spokesperson stating that "his ongoing behaviour has left Assembly Member colleagues feeling undermined and demoralised".[1] He currently sits as an independent.[38]

A tweet in March 2018 was later deleted by McEvoy, after he responded to an earlier tweet about former Plaid leader and AM Leanne Wood with an image of himself and Dafydd Elis-Thomas wearing boxing gloves outside the Senedd.[39] The tweet was captioned "we're ready for her", and was deleted after AMs including Plaid minister Bethan Sayed said the tweet was "absolutely not funny".[39] Matthew Ford, a senior advisor to Neil McEvoy, would later come forward to state he had posted the image without McEvoy's prior knowledge, to promote a "cross-party boxing event with the minister for sport".[39]

In July 2019, McEvoy was again investigated, this time for accusations that he had bullied a care home worker. McEvoy had contended that the case involved a child who had suffered "the worst case I've come across in 30 years".[40] The investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman came during McEvoy's request in June to be admitted to the party, following over a year out of the party. The Plaid Membership, Discipline and Standards Committee was described as "evenly split" during deliberations into the case.[41] However shortly after, the Membership, Discipline and Standards Committee panel saw "two instances of unauthorised disclosure" of information which stated the panel had failed to reach a decision. The leak led to the Party deciding to disband the panel and form a new panel with new members.[41]

As a result, McEvoy withdrew his application to re-join Plaid Cymru, and in a letter accused two members of the Membership, Discipline and Standards Committee panel of holding "prejudiced views about" him, as well as complaining of "malicious" leaks intended to bring down "a non-compliant panel".[22] Plaid AM Helen Mary Jones however stated that the process was fair, and that the issue had consumed too much of "our time and our resources". She has indicated the Party would likely contact McEvoy through its solicitors regarding his claims.[22] McEvoy is believed to have withdrawn his application due to party rules which state that if his application had been rejected in 2019, he would have been unable to reapply for a further five years.[42]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Neil McEvoy expelled from Plaid Cymru assembly group". BBC. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Plaid's Man in Cardiff: Neil McEvoy's Political Journey". 9 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Welsh Election 2016: Labour just short as UKIP wins seats". BBC Wales News. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Neil McEvoy's Plaid Cymru expulsion cut by six months". BBC Wales News. Retrieved 27 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Plaid Cymru leader Wood in narrow win to top party list". BBC Wales News. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Plaid's Man in Cardiff: Neil McEvoy's Political Journey". InterCardiff. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b "Neil McEvoy". Cardiff Plaid.
  8. ^ Mosalski, Ruth (16 April 2017). "A profile of Plaid's controversial Cardiff leader Neil McEvoy". walesonline.
  9. ^ a b http://www.electionscentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Cardiff-1995-2012.pdf
  10. ^ "NEW RECRUIT FOR PLAID CYMRU FROM THE LABOUR PARTY - Early Day Motions". edm.parliament.uk.
  11. ^ a b "BBC News - Cardiff councillor Neil McEvoy apology in Facebook row". 2 December 2011 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  12. ^ Law, Peter (5 September 2012). "Neil McEvoy says he wants to stand for police commissioner role". walesonline.
  13. ^ "Wales elections > Cardiff West". BBC News. 6 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Wales elections > Cardiff West". BBC News. 6 May 2011.
  15. ^ Ruth Mosalski (16 April 2017). "Who is Neil McEvoy, the Plaid politician who thinks he can be the next leader of Cardiff council?". Wales Online. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  16. ^ David Deans (13 September 2017) "Plaid Cymru AMs McEvoy and Jenkins in right-to-buy row", BBC News.
  17. ^ https://twitter.com/neiljmcevoy/status/818534334290391042
  18. ^ a b c d Mosalski, Ruth (14 August 2019). "An AM's joke about the cost of a lightbulb has led to a huge row". walesonline. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  19. ^ a b c d Hayward, Will (4 August 2019). "These are the AMs who spend the most public money on staff". walesonline. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  20. ^ a b c d "Plaid Cymru Chair candidates disagree on expelled members of party". Nation.Cymru. 8 August 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  21. ^ a b c d "Why Plaid Cymru's leadership fear a Neil McEvoy takeover bid". Nation.Cymru. 25 July 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  22. ^ a b c "Neil McEvoy drops Plaid Cymru membership bid". 10 July 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  23. ^ a b c "Police investigate AM's secret recordings". 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Police investigate AM's secret recordings". 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Police investigate AM's secret recordings". 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Councillor's Facebook post rebuke". 29 November 2011 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  27. ^ agencies, News (30 November 2002). "Councillor sues rival for giving out leaflets of him pictured as Del Boy". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  28. ^ a b Martin Shipton (1 January 2016). "Cardiff councillor faces £120k bill and a legal charge on his home after withdrawing a libel case". Wales Online. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Welsh language row between Fairwater councillors over footbridge petition". Cardiff Council. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  30. ^ Mosalski, Ruth (18 May 2016). "New Assembly Member Neil McEvoy to take councillor salary". walesonline.
  31. ^ a b "Neil McEvoy suspended from Plaid Cymru Senedd group". BBC News. 7 March 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  32. ^ "Plaid conference: Suspended councillor Neil McEvoy to speak > Wales Politics". BBC News. 4 March 2017.
  33. ^ Mosalski, Ruth (21 March 2017). "Neil McEvoy has apologised to a council officer he 'bullied'". walesonline.
  34. ^ James Williams (14 September 2017). "Neil McEvoy complaints before Plaid Cymru disciplinary panel". BBC News. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  35. ^ "Neil McEvoy suspended from Plaid Cymru group again". BBC News. 19 September 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  36. ^ a b c "Allegations AM misused assembly funds". 21 December 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  37. ^ "Neil McEvoy claims unanimous support to be Plaid Cymru AM". BBC News. 17 January 2018.
  38. ^ "Plaid Cymru win council seat by-election in First Minister's constituency". Nation.Cymru. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  39. ^ a b c "Neil McEvoy Wood boxing tweet deleted". 14 March 2018. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  40. ^ "Neil McEvoy probed over 'intimidating' behaviour". 13 July 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  41. ^ a b "Plaid considers re-admitting Neil McEvoy". 12 June 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  42. ^ "McEvoy feared five year exclusion from Plaid Cymru". 11 July 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.

External linksEdit