Adam Price has stepped down as leader of Plaid Cymru after an internal review concluded the Welsh nationalist party had failed to “detoxify” its culture and found evidence of bullying, harassment and abuse.
Plaid Cymru won four seats at the 2019 general election and has 12 members of the Welsh Senate distributed across Cardiff Bay. In 2021, Cardiff’s ruling Labor Party entered into a “co-operation agreement” with Plaid, under which the two parties would work together on policy without forming a formal coalition.
Plaid said it hoped to elect a new leader before the summer to replace 54-year-old Price, a former MP and current Senate member (MS), who took up his role in 2018.
On Thursday morning the party’s Senate group unanimously chose Lear Gruffydd, one of its MS, to be interim leader. His new role will be ratified by the group’s national conference on Saturday before the process of selecting a permanent leader begins.
Plaid Cymru’s chaos comes as the Scottish National Party also faces problems after an investigation into its finances, which resulted in the arrest of former leader Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, who was later released without charge.
Nerys Evans, the former MS who led the “Project Pob” review at Plaid, found evidence gathered from an anonymous survey of staff and elected members which highlighted “instances of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination”.
She said the party had let women down by failing to implement a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment. It was “many years of inaction on the part of those in positions of authority to challenge bad behaviour” that worsened the situation.
Price said 82 recommendations The Project PoB report, published last week, should be embraced to create a more “safe, inclusive and respectful” culture in the party.
On Thursday, Price said he felt “morally obliged” to step down as leader immediately after reading about the party’s “collective failure”. He was initially advised not to resign by some colleagues, including Evans, he added.
“So I was persuaded by the argument that my resignation would be an abdication of responsibility,” he said. “However, it is now clear that I no longer have the united support of my colleagues that would be necessary.”
Plaid Cymru chairman Mark Jones said: “As we begin the process of electing a new leader, our unwavering focus will be on implementing the recommendations of Project Pawb to promote a new culture within the party, making it a safer and more inclusive membership. – Leads the movement for all.
In his resignation letter to Johnson, Price said he was proud of the “groundbreaking” cooperation agreement with Labour, saying it had delivered “life-changing benefits” to the Welsh people.
He said a growing number of people now believed in Plaid’s vision of independence for Wales, which had “broken the banks of mainstream politics”.
Although Plaid Cymru won four seats in Westminster in 2019, one of its MPs, Jonathan Edwards, is now sitting as an independent after admitting caution to the attack.