In today's Wales on Sunday reporter Matt Withers hits back at the acussations of political bias and sitting on the story in order to harm the Lib Dems conference.
The story, which I wrote, broke last weekend on the front of our paper – coincidentally, on the second day of the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference in Swansea.
And it’s that timing which has led to many rumours, letters of complaint and plenty of rumblings on the blogosphere. The charge? Wales on Sunday knew about Mr Bates’ behaviour at the time it occurred – and deliberately held back running the story in a bid to disrupt the party’s conference.
Mr Bates’ night on the tiles was on January 19. I was first alerted to what is alleged to have happened on Thursday, February 4, when my editor asked me to investigate a tip-off in an anonymous e-mail.
The next two days were spent trying to verify the truth of the allegations through a second source. Eventually, on the Friday afternoon, we found a senior source who was able to confirm an investigation into verbal abuse by Mr Bates into staff at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.
We were unable to verify separate allegations of assault on paramedics. These made their way into the public domain the day after the WoS story.
I phoned Mick Bates’ mobile four times on the Friday afternoon to speak to him, each time without success, and eventually spoke to the Welsh Lib Dems’ head of communications, who was aware Mr Bates had suffered an accident that night, but not that he had been allegedly involved in trouble following it.
A statement from the party confirming it was investigating their AM followed early on Saturday evening.
So that’s why the story appeared when it did, rather than a deliberate attempt by Wales on Sunday to sabotage the Welsh Liberal Democrat Spring Conference.
In fact, the most baffling thing about it is there’s so many Lib Dems who genuinely believe their conference to be of such vast importance that journalists spend their precious time concocting vindictive and deliberate attempts to wreck it.
So WoS were duped by an anonymous e-mail sent two weeks after the event into running a story designed to disrupt the conference.