Monday, 22 March, 2004
Morgan criticised over job blocking
Lord Elis-Thomas: Assembly in a 'difficult situation'
The assembly's presiding officer has criticised Rhodri Morgan over the blocking of the appointment of a barrister to a top legal job.
The first minister has admitted he prevented Gerard Elias QC's appointment to counsel general because of links to hunting and freemasonry.
But Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said the decision raised questions about Mr Elias' human rights.
Mr Morgan's actions, he added, left the assembly in a "difficult situation".
He told BBC Wales that he did not accept Mr Morgan's reasons for the rejection.
"I believe that it has left the assembly in a difficult situation in that there is no senior legal officer and no deputy either," said Lord Elis-Thomas.
"It doesn't directly affect our day-to-day work but I would have thought that it is absolutely essential for a government, particularly in the complex area of devolved legislation, to have the best possible advice at all time."
Mr Morgan has said that he broke no rules in blocking Mr Elias as the assembly's counsel general.
And that he did not want the job to go to Mr Elias because of his links with hunting and freemasonry.
But Mr Elias said he had not been an active freemason for seven years and his involvement with the Independent Supervisory Authority for Hunting was as an independent lawyer.
Opposition AMs have claimed that Mr Morgan wanted a candidate with Labour connections - a claim denied by Mr Morgan.