Laura Anne Jones: SMS messages appear in Tory spending line

Laura Anne Jones: SMS messages appear in Tory spending line

Image source, Senedd Cymru

Legend, Laura Anne Jones is a Conservative member of the Senedd and represents the East South Wales region.

  • Author, Teleri Glyn Jones
  • Role, Political journalist, BBC Wales News

Text messages from a Conservative member of the Senedd’s phone, which appear to instruct an employee to maximize the politician’s expense claims, have been seen by BBC Wales.

Laura Anne Jones is under police investigation over allegations about her spending.

One message asked a staff member: “When you do gas always make more than me – add stuff please ok.”

The context of the WhatsApp messages is not clear. A lawyer said on her behalf: “Ms Jones is satisfied that any allegations relating to irregularities relating to expenses are completely false.”

Ms Jones, who is the Conservative Party’s shadow culture minister, has previously said she would fully co-operate with “any investigation”.

Laura Anne Jones is currently under investigation by Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain and South Wales Police.

The police investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made.

The standards commissioner, responsible for investigating complaints against MS, had referred the complaint to the police, according to the police.

The BBC has learned that the initial complaint to Mr Bain concerned Ms Jones’s handling of allegations of bullying by a senior staff manager.

Allegations about Ms Jones’s spending emerged as part of Mr Bain’s investigation.

It is understood the Standards Commissioner’s investigation is on hold while the police investigation is ongoing, and police have spoken to at least one Tory staff member as part of the investigation.

BBC Wales saw messages sent to a member of staff, who asked whether he should make reimbursement requests for politicians for the days Ms Jones was off sick.

There was no direct answer to this question. However, a graph of the proposed spending then appears to have been sent to Ms Jones’ phone.

A response from Ms Jones’ phone said: “If you could always do more than what is said that would be fabulous, thank you.” It was followed by a thumbs-up emoji.

Another message from the same phone said: “When you do things with gas – always make more than me – add things please ok.” It was followed by a thumbs-up and a clasped hands emoji.

When the staff member asks “like visits to the constituency office?” ”, the answer is: “Yes, stuff like that (clasped hands emoji). »

Mileage requests for Senedd members must be approved by the member themselves.

The BBC cannot verify whether the messages represent the full conversations between the people involved, nor their full context.

A lawyer representing Laura Anne Jones said in a statement: “Ms. Jones has not received any formal complaints of harassment regarding any member of her staff.”

They added that she “believes that any allegations relating to irregularities surrounding the expenditure are completely false.”

“Ms Jones’s belief is that the complaints made to the Standards Commissioner are without merit.

“As these matters are the subject of ongoing investigations, it would be inappropriate for Ms. Jones to make any further comments.

“Ms Jones has no problem with the BBC or its sources referring these allegations to the police and/or the Standards Commissioner, which will give her the opportunity to respond formally as part of the investigation if the authorities demand it.”