Redwood accused over agency chief

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JOHN REDWOOD, the Secretary of State for Wales, was yesterday accused of lying over his knowledge of the political affiliations of David Rowe-Beddoe, the new chairman of the troubled Welsh Development Agency, writes Chris Blackhurst.

Last November, Mr Redwood, said on television he had no idea what Mr Rowe-Beddoe's political views were. But yesterday, after it was revealed Mr Rowe-Beddoe was a former chairman of the Monte Carlo Conservatives Abroad Association, he admitted he had known what they were. Ron Davies, Labour's spokesman on Wales, said he would be raising Mr Redwood's apparently contradictory behaviour in the Commons next week.

Mr Rowe-Beddoe, a businessman, was appointed to run the WDA by Mr Redwood last July. He succeeded Dr Gywn Jones who left shortly before a Commons Public Accounts Committee report highlighted management lapses and irregularities at the agency.

The Monte Carlo post was listed on Mr Rowe-Beddoe's curriculum vitae, submitted to the Welsh Office for the WDA job.

Mr Davies called upon Mr Rowe-Beddoe and Mr Redwood to resign.

Mr Redwood confirmed he knew about Mr Rowe-Beddoe's past, but added: 'I satisfied myself that he was a first rank businessman . . . I did not ask him to pass any political test as I did not think it relevant to the job.'