The illegal dumping scandal that brought down the British Labor leader

They say a picture tells a thousand stories. If so, one must think of the sad image of the First Minister of Great Britain who was shaking and crying in Parliament this week.

On Wednesday, new Labor incumbent Vaughan Gething, 50, lost a no-confidence motion just 78 days into the job following his controversial appointment in March. It caused him to cry in front of his colleagues, and to offer some very rare – some would say – false words.

The reason? In February, during his leadership campaign, it emerged that Gething had received two £100,000 grants from a major environmental company convicted of pollution.

Dauson Environmental Group, whose British business director David John Neal, 63, has been convicted of environmental crimes on several occasions, and his companies have been fined and ordered to pay costs of more than £400,000.

But in the new year, Neal contributed a total of £200,000 to Gething’s campaign funds. Despite repeated calls to return the money from Labor colleagues and opposition politicians, Gething consistently refused. The £200,000 donation represents around 80 per cent of the £254,000 Gething has spent in total. And it ranks as one of the biggest single donations in British political history. To put it in context, his opponent Jeremy Miles was only able to raise £58,800 from all donors during the same time frame.

It is a sorry tale of corruption, corruption and racketeering – which Conservative rivals say prompted the subsequent vote of no confidence. Here – in pictures – we tell the story.

Gwent levels

Gwent levels

The picturesque Gwent Levels area, between Cardiff and Newport, is home to many rare species and a variety of wading birds – Alamy

Trouble began on the picturesque Gwent Levels, between Newport and Cardiff, in 2013. The marsh area is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), full of rare species such as otters, grass snakes and marsh humps. It also supports a variety of wading birds, such as grouse and pinnipeds.

The trash


Two companies owned by millionaire David John Neal were found to have illegally stored 19,000 tonnes of rubbish at a site within the Gwent Levels area.

However, in 2013, two companies owned by millionaire David John Neal and based in the area were found to have breached environmental law. One of them, Atlantic Recycling, illegally stored 19,000 tonnes of rubbish on a field near Neal’s farm in Glentach. In another breach of regulations, his soil separation company, Neal Soil Suppliers, was found to have spread food effluent and dairy waste across the field, creating a stink for those living nearby.

Convicted criminal

David John NeilDavid John Neil

David John Neal was given a three-month suspended prison term in 2013 for breaching environmental rules – Richard Swingler

After a year-long investigation by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), in 2013, Neal appeared at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, where he personally pleaded guilty to breaches of environmental rules and also pleaded guilty on behalf of his two companies for depositing waste that is likely to him. causes pollution to the environment or harm to human health.

He was given a three-month suspended prison term and fined £10,000, while his two firms were fined £50,000 each, and ordered to pay £51,000 each in costs. The court heard that “substantial and serious pollution” had let a toxic liquid into the water.

No regrets

David John NeilDavid John Neil

Neal was found guilty again in 2017 of failing to remove the original waste from his site and accused of showing a ‘lack of respect’ for the environment – Richard Swingler

In 2017, Neal was back in court, this time pleading guilty to failing to remove waste from his site, as he had been ordered to do in 2013. He was given another 18-week suspended sentence, with fines his two companies and total costs of £230,000. At the time, Jon Goldsworthy, from NRW, said: “Despite our best efforts to work with David John Neal and the companies he works for, he continues to show a lack of respect for the rules we apply and the health of the environment. “

Atlantic Recycling was back in court in January 2023, pleading guilty again at Cardiff Crown Court to failing to operate in accordance with its environmental permit. The alleged offense dates from July 2019. The sentence will be decided in December this year.


Vaughan GethingVaughan Gething

In February 2024, Neal was reported to have donated around £200,000 to Gething’s leadership campaign – Reuters

In the autumn of 2018, Gething received £38,000 from two of Neal’s companies – Atlantic Recycling and Neal Soil Suppliers – when he ran to become leader in Wales. A few months earlier – in the spring of 2018, Gething wrote to NRW supporting his friend’s efforts to build a profitable water treatment and biomass boiler on one of its sites. He said: “I’m not sure how further delay can be justified.”

But as recently as January this year, according to reports in the BBC, Atlantic Recycling pleaded guilty again at Cardiff Crown Court to failing to operate in accordance with its licence. The offense is alleged to have taken place in July 2019. The company is currently awaiting sentencing. In February 2024, it was reported that Neal had donated around £200,000 to Gething’s leadership campaign. He received £100,000 on 18 December 2023, and £100,000 on 11 January 2024 from Neal’s parent company, Dauson Environmental Group Ltd. In the same month that the story broke, Atlantic Recycling was fined £300,000 in February and ordered to pay £29,000 in costs. health and safety breach after a worker, Anthony Bilton, was tragically killed in a collision with a large digger. Judge Neal Thomas told Merthyr Tydfil magistrates there was “no excuse” for their failings.

Conflict of interest?

Gwent levelsGwent levels

Neal submitted a proposal earlier this year to build a 67 acre “solar park” which will cover some of the last remaining green fields in the Gwent Levels – Alamy

Interestingly, Neal submitted a planning application to the Welsh government in January this year – the same time he gave the second of the £100,000 donations to Gething. His proposal was to build a 67 acre “solar park” which would cover some of the last remaining green fields in this sensitive part of the Gwent Levels. An environmental impact assessment submitted as part of the application indicated that the development would impact on the SSSI. But because the businessman claimed the project was a “development of national significance”, the outcome would not be decided by local planning officers but by ministers from the Gething government. The application is still being considered.

It also emerged that in 2021, after leaving healthcare, Gething was put in charge of improving Britain’s post-Covid economy. In this role he oversaw the Development Bank of Wales, which was created to lend taxpayers’ money to businesses to help kick-start the economy. Last February, the bank decided to lend £400,000 to Neal Soil Suppliers to finance the purchase of a solar farm. Gething denies having anything to do with it.

More stink

David John NeilDavid John Neil

Another of Neal’s companies, Resources Management Ltd, has also faced allegations of corruption – Richard Swingler

Meanwhile, another of Neal’s companies, Resources Management Ltd, which runs the Withyhedge landfill site near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has also faced allegations of pollution.

For years, locals have complained about its foul smell that can be smelled up to five miles away, comparing the site to a “stink bomb on steroids”. Water quality campaigners have also expressed concern that the release of liquid from the top could have a negative impact on local streams and rivers. Others complain that the air quality is not monitored by impartial monitors, but in fact by another of Neal’s companies.

A dream

Lee WatersLee Waters

Former transport minister Lee Waters said he felt ‘very uncomfortable’ with the donation – Alamy

Since news of the donations broke, Gething has been hit by calls from colleagues and other party members to return the money or resign. Plaid Cymru’s Mabon ap Gwynfor wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “The situation is unsustainable and unsustainable. Gething needs to do the right thing – return the money and distance himself from this company.” Meanwhile, on May 1, in heated exchanges in Parliament, former transport minister Lee Waters said he was “very uncomfortable” with the donation.

Starmer’s reaction

Keir Starmer and Vaughan GethingKeir Starmer and Vaughan Gething

Labor leader Keir Starmer says he has ‘absolute’ confidence in Gething – PA

During a recent visit to Wales, Starmer defended Gething and said he had not broken any rules regarding the donations. He says he trusts him “absolutely”. This came despite it also emerging last month that Gething had told ministers in a group chat in August 2020 that he was deleting WhatsApp messages relating to the government’s handling of Covid. At the time, he was the minister of health; he said he knew they could be examined in the future and was getting rid of them. This later led to the sacking of Hannah Blythyn, the minister he claimed was responsible for the leak that exposed him. A spokesperson for the Covid Inquiry confirmed that it had been made aware of the release of the message and was considering whether further information needed to be provided to Gething. Gething has denied that the message contradicted the evidence he gave to the inquiry in March.

Tears in Parliament

Vaughan Gething cryingVaughan Gething crying

Gething was visibly emotional during his vote of no confidence on Wednesday – PA

Gething has repeatedly maintained that the donations were made in accordance with party protocol and rejected calls to return the money. But his lack of contrition or accountability led to Wednesday’s vote of no confidence, which he lost by two votes. He later said that “mistakes have been made and will continue to be made”.

“It really hurts when my mind is questioned,” Gething added. “I will not shy away from examination and challenge.”

After the vote, the shadow first minister of Great Britain, the Conservative Andrew RT Davies said The Telegraph: “Vaughan Gething and the Labor Party took cash from the donor that caused this bias. Members of Parliament have backed the Conservatives’ right to a vote of no confidence in Mr Gething in Wales. But there are also serious questions for Keir Starmer.”

The vote is non-binding and Gething has insisted he will remain in the job, backed by Sir Keir Starmer, but others are calling for him to resign. Meanwhile, Neal said yes Wales Online it feels like a stick is being used to beat Gething. He added: “I never asked anything or expected anything from Vaughan.” Of course, this is not the end of the stink, or the story.

David John Neal and Parliament have been contacted for comment

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