National Museum, Cardiff
National Museum Wales, Cardiff

A settlement following a bullying row at Museum Wales which cost the public purse more than £620,000 was reasonable and the “least-worst outcome”, according to senior officials.

Wales’ public accounts committee grilled civil servants about the feud between Roger Lewis and David Anderson, the museum’s former president and director-general respectively.

Andrew Slade, the Welsh Government’s director-general for economy, described the costs as reasonable in terms of trying to get the least-worst outcome for taxpayers.

Labour’s Rhianon Passmore said the dispute could have cost two or three times more – £1.2m to £1.8m – if the case had gone to an employment tribunal.

Islwyn's Labour MS, Rhianon Passmore
Islwyn’s Labour MS, Rhianon Passmore

Pressed about whether the deal provides value for money, Mr Slade stressed that nobody approached negotiations with a blank cheque.

He said: “No party to the settlement agreement would have signed up to it if they thought there was a better outcome elsewhere.”

This month, an Audit Wales report put the total cost of settlements with Mr Anderson and a former chief operating officer, who retired due to ill health, at £626,383.

The estimate includes legal and advisory fees but not time spent by officials on dealing with the matter nor costs arising from the recruitment of new trustees or staff.


Mr Slade warned that an employment tribunal would have taken about two years to resolve the issue, with the outcome potentially subject to appeal.

He said: “Whether it’s value for money, without actually having a complete ability to say it would definitely have been this other thing, I guess that’s hard to pitch.”

Asked about any hint of governance issues in 2019, Jason Thomas, director of culture, said there were none when Mr Lewis was appointed.

Mr Thomas, who was on the panel that appointed the former rugby boss, confirmed concerns were first flagged in spring 2021 during the president’s annual review.

Quizzed about the concerns raised by senior executives, the civil servant – who was involved in the review – said: “I’d need to go back and look into that.”

Ms Passmore questioned why mediation did not occur for eight months after the review, describing the grievance process as elongated, unwieldy and unfair.


Mr Slade admitted the Welsh Government did not have a process in place to effectively deal with a breakdown of relations between senior museum leaders.

He said: “We then clarified, I think, that not all parties were willing to engage in mediation – so we moved to the next step, which was to appoint an independent investigator.”

Mr Slade stressed that the Welsh Government had to tread carefully due to complications such as the arm’s-length body having a royal charter and charity status.

He said Dawn Bowden, the deputy minister for culture, wrote to the parties in February 2022 after the investigation reported – urging them to resolve the breakdown of relations.

Asked about Mr Lewis leading a review of Cadw a month after stepping down, Mr Slade said no breaches of the Nolan principles of public life nor appointment terms were found.

What are the Nolan Principles?

The Seven Principles of Public Life, known as the Nolan principles, apply to anyone elected or appointed to public office.

Named after Baron Michael Nolan, a judge, who was the first chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the principles are:

  1. Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  1. Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
  1. Objectivity: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
  1. Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  1. Openness: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  1. Honesty: Holders of public office should be truthful.
  1. Leadership: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

He assured MSs that processes are now in place but warned: “I can’t put my hand on my heart here today and say this could never happen again.

“It doesn’t matter how many processes and procedures you have in place or revised policies – at some point, if you’re seeking to mediate a situation, all parties have got to be willing.”


Natasha Asghar called for greater openness, urging officials to disclose legal advice, during the committee hearing on Wednesday November 29.

South Wales East MS Natasha Asghar
South Wales East MS Natasha Asghar

Responding to the Conservative’s call, Mr Slade said it would require the suspension of the Welsh Government’s legal privilege which is only done in extraordinary circumstances.

Adam Price, the former Plaid Cymru leader, said the auditor general was not given a copy of legal advice to substantiate whether the deal was prudent in protecting the public purse.

Claiming the Welsh Government has been as transparent as possible, Mr Slade replied: “All I can say is we’ve been told clearly by legal advisers, there’s a limit to what we can share.”


Asked whether it is standard practice for one party to nominate a mediator, he said: “I don’t know. I’m not an employment lawyer.”

He denied the row stems from governance failures, saying it flows more from a breakdown in relations between senior executive and non-executive leaders.

MSs heard board meetings were held behind closed doors, with no minutes taken, and the former director-general remains on the museum’s books until next September.

Mike Hedges questioned advice to ministers that payments for injury to feelings and loss of employment were reasonable, saying the total was not included.

Mr Slade accepted more detail could have been provided.

Mr Hedges said the settlement was way above the amount tribunals ordinarily award, outside of sexual or racial discrimination cases.

After failing to get to the bottom of his line of questioning, with officials committing to write to the committee instead, the Swansea East MS said: “I’ll just say I remain unsatisfied.”