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NATIONAL NEWS 

Welsh Government to investigate minister over Circuit of Wales role

Circuit of Wales

The First Minister of Wales has launched an investigation into allegations there was a breach of ministerial code in relation to the 300m Circuit of Wales project.

First Minister Carwyn Jones wrote to Assembly Ministers this week to confirm he had requested a probe into the role the Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies might have played in a u-turn on the project by Natural Resources Wales.

It has been suggested that Davies, the AM for Ebbw Vale where the planned facility would be built, may have broke the ministerial code by encouraging the NRW - which was originally opposed to to the Heads of the Valleys Development Company project - to reconsider its position.

"There has been concern expressed recently about the actions of one of my Ministers and whether his role as a constituency member has conflicted with his position as a Minister," a statement on behalf of Mr Jones read.

"In light of this, I have asked the Permanent Secretary to look into the facts surrounding this matter. I have requested that the Permanent Secretary reports back to me within two weeks. I will update members in due course."

It follows the confirmation last week that the Welsh Government would enter discussions with the HotVDC that could lead to the granting of a 20m commercial loan to help take the British MotoGP round away from Silverstone.

North Wales AM Antoinette Sandbach wrote to Mr Jones earlier this week encouraging an investigation into Davies' actions.

"I have written to the First Minister because information released in Freedom of Information requests indicates that Alun Davies put pressure on others to overcome their objections [to the Circuit of Wales]," Ms Sandbach told AUTOSPORT.

"That is a serious issue. I'm concerned there has been a breach of the ministerial code and it needs investigating.

"There's been no open discussion by the Welsh Government. They have refused to disclose the diligence reports. The auditor has looked at the project and identified it as high risk.

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"My biggest fear is that this all turns out to be a huge white elephant and the Welsh Government will lose any money invested in it."

When approached by AUTOSPORT asking for clarification on the disclosure of due diligence reports and the request for state aid, a HotVDC spokesman said: "The nature of these questions are the same as those raised in Freedom of Information requests that have already been declined."

For more on this story, including what it means for the British MotoGP round's future, read this week's issue of AUTOSPORT - available in shops, online and on iTunes and Google Play from Thursday June 12.

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