As mentioned in my previous post. We're in need of a good story that not only demonstrates the inconsistency of those running the WAG machine, but also an example of the civil service not getting their own way and yet again promoting one of their own numbers from within.
The Western Mail reports the appointment of a freemason as the head of the NHS in Wales was attacked last night as inconsistent.
Paul Williams left his post as chief executive of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg NHS Trust at the end of last month on a two-year secondment during which he will be in charge of the Welsh health service. He is currently working a handover period with Ann Lloyd, his predecessor, who is retiring.
But a civil servant who contacted the Western Mail contrasted the appointment of Mr Williams with an earlier decision to block the appointment of Gerard Elias QC as the Welsh Assembly’s counsel general – partly because he was a freemason.
In 2004, Mr Elias, one of the best-known barristers in Wales, was personally vetoed by First Minister Rhodri Morgan after he was recommended for the post of top legal adviser at the Assembly by Civil Service Commissioners.
Mr Morgan’s refusal to appoint Mr Elias – and the revelation that he had unsuccessfully sought approval from the commissioners to appoint the candidate who came second, a former Labour parliamentary candidate – created a political storm at the time.
The Western Mail received a typewritten letter saying:
An Assembly Government spokeswoman said:
I am afraid this note has to be anonymous as I am a civil servant.
You might find it useful to ask the Welsh Assembly Government why it saw fit to debar Gerard Elias from the counsel general post on the basis of his rather inactive freemasonry but now sees no problem in appointing Paul Williams, a very senior and active freemason, to the post of head of NHS Wales.
No doubt the excuse will be that the counsel general offers advice on legal issues but there is no more sensitive post than head of NHS Wales.
I am not a freemason but I have no quarrel with that organisation. I have no axe to grind for or against Mr Elias, unknown to me, or Mr Williams, known to me but not well-known.
My beef is really with the inconsistency and – let’s face it the dishonesty – around decisions like this which devalue the whole Assembly position.
I couldn't help but contact one anonymous insider that contacted me a while back on another issue. I was told that "one senior civil servant didn't get what they wanted for Christmas" which I think amusingly falls foul of the tradition of Secret Santa.
We appoint on merit and the best person for the job based on skills and experience. We do not have a policy of excluding individuals based on membership of the freemasons.
Candidates are not obliged to declare membership of the freemasons. The issue of Paul Williams’ membership of freemasons is viewed as a private matter.
Merry Christmas everyone.
[Pippa Wagstaff is currently on a blogging break and hopes to return in the New Year]