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BBC Wales's Simon Morris
"The Presiding Officer believes the Permanent Secretary is failing to carry out the Assembly's instructions."
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BBC Wales's Simon Morris reports
"The man who runs the civil service in Wales is accused of defying the assembly"
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Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer
"Devolution does not mean civil servants making decisions"
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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 19:17 GMT
Speaker criticises Assembly servant
Dragon's Eye logo
The letter was leaked to BBC Wales's Dragon's Eye
Wales's most senior civil servant has been accused of challenging the authority of the democratic process and seeking to undermine the powers of the Assembly.

In a leaked letter obtained by the BBC Wales political programme Dragon's Eye the Assembly's Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis-Thomas accuses the Permanent Secretary, Jon Shortridge, of "serious impropriety".

It is the most recent in a series of battles between the National Assembly's political side and its supporting civil servants.

Eighteen months ago, Lord Elis-Thomas broke off relations with his own clerk and the Assembly's Counsel General.

Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas, speaker of the National Assembly
Lord Elis-Thomas: latest in a series of disputes
The language of this latest letter could hardly be stronger.

It was written on Thursday following a behind- the-scenes dispute between Lord Elis-Thomas and Mr Shortridge over the Assembly's policy on sustainable development.

The Presiding Officer believes the Permanent Secretary is failing to carry out the Assembly's instructions.

In the letter, Lord Elis Thomas said that this failure defied the will of the Assembly, represented a challenge by an official to the authority of the democratic process and sought to undermine the Assembly's powers.

He also accused Mr Shortridge of serious impropriety in seeking to question his authority to make decisions on behalf of the Assembly, something he said it was not the place of an official to do.

Speaking on BBC Radio Cymru's Post Cyntaf on Friday, Lord Elis-Thomas said his office existed for all members of the Assembly, and that it was not acceptable when any official tried to influence him.

Asked whether this issue raised questions about Mr Shortridge's future, Lord Elis Thomas said: "This isn't a matter for me directly".

Mr Shortridge has so far declined to comment.

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04 Jun 00 | Wales
Elis-Thomas in language row
01 Aug 00 | Wales
Welsh language campaign call
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