Fire boss report found possible bullying case - Plaid

Stuart Millington
Stuart Millington is interim chief fire officer of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service [South Wales Fire and Rescue]

A report into a senior officer at the centre of a row at the South Wales fire service said there is evidence that could support a bullying case against him, the leader of Plaid Cymru has said.

Rhun ap Iorwerth read out the conclusion of an independent report commissioned by North Wales Fire Service into Stuart Millington in the Welsh Parliament.

Mr Millington, who is facing an employment tribunal, was brought in as interim chief fire officer of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service by Welsh government commissioners.

The Plaid leader asked the first minister whether the commissioners were aware of the report but First Minister Vaughan Gething said “disciplinary action to date has not found a cause of action that has been upheld”.

North Wales Fire Service said it had “nothing further to add” to the Senedd hearing.

It has confirmed that a complaint had “been investigated externally, and appropriate action taken which includes learning for all parties involved”.

The Welsh government sent commissioners into South Wales Fire and Rescue Service after a damning report about harassment and misogyny.

They appointed Stuart Millington, who is on secondment from his job as assistant chief fire officer in north Wales, to be an interim chief fire officer.

Mr Millington was himself facing allegations of harassment and discrimination, which it is understood he has denied.

The first minister told the Senedd on Tuesday a tribunal will take place on 7 May where North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority are the named respondent.

In the Senedd Mr ap Iorwerth asked Mr Gething if he was “entirely confident that commissioners and ministers have all relevant information in order to come to a conclusion on the appropriateness of his appointment”.

Mr Gething said: “I recognise that in a previous internal investigation, whilst no disciplinary action was taken, there were points of learning for Mr Millington about his managerial style.”

In Mr ap Iorwerth’s reply he told the Senedd: “I have here a copy of the report presented to [north Wales chief fire officer] Dawn Docx on 12 October last year, an independent report commissioned by the north Wales fire service into allegations against Mr Millington.

“It concluded that there is evidence to support a prima facie case that may amount to bullying, harassment and discrimination, or harassment on the grounds of trade union activity.”

Prima facie is a legal term which means at first look.

He later said: “If upheld, the report concluded that this may amount to misconduct or gross misconduct.”

He asked if he knew “whether the commissioners appointed by the Welsh government were aware of this independent report when they promoted Mr Millington to his current post”.


Mr Gething said he had not read the report, and did not want to “reach a judgement on a report that I haven’t read”.

“This is an issue where there is an employment tribunal taking place about the North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, where Mr Millington may or may not be a part of that.”

Mr ap Iorwerth said Julie James, the cabinet secretary for housing and local government, told a committee last week that a complaint had been made about Mr Millington in 2023, and an investigation concluded “there was no disciplinary case to answer”.

“We know that the independent external investigation did say that there was a case to pursue. The government's most senior fire and rescue adviser, Dan Stephens, also downplayed the allegations against Mr Millington.

Pushed again on whether Mr Gething had given an “accurate account” of investigations, Mr Gething said: “The disciplinary action to date has not found a cause of action that has been upheld.

“The employment tribunal and the evidence in it may change the picture. I know what I'm not prepared to do is to comment in advance of that, before I understand what has happened.

“It will be the same thing for the cabinet secretary for housing, local government and planning. We need to understand what evidence is provided at that employment tribunal, and if that changes the position for the commissioners.”

Regarding the investigation, a North Wales Fire Service spokesperson: “We value transparency and accountability within our organisation.

However, it's imperative to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all individuals involved in our operations. Therefore, we cannot comment on any investigations into conduct, whether internal or external.

“Rest assured, we take any concerns raised by our staff seriously and are dedicated to providing them with the necessary support. Our commitment to upholding equality, fairness, and respect in the workplace remains unwavering.

“We can however confirm that the original complaint has been investigated externally, and appropriate action taken which includes learning for all parties involved.

“Furthermore, we provide Welsh government with details of all investigations on a regular basis.”

The spokesperson added: “Having listened to the question in the Senedd this afternoon and the response from the first minister we have nothing further to add.”