SOUTH Wales East Senedd member Laura Anne Jones has been suspended from her Tory Shadow Cabinet role, as South Wales Police carry out an investigation into expenses claims.

The former Monmouthshire councillor for Monmouth's Wyesham ward is also under investigation by the Welsh Assembly's Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain, who has put his inquiry on hold while police complete theirs.

WhatsApp texts were revealed by BBC Wales and other media outlets last week reportedly showing messages sent to a member of staff asking them to maximise petrol claims.

The MS, through a lawyer, has previously denied any wrongdoing, saying: "Ms Jones is satisfied that any allegations in relation to impropriety surrounding expenses are entirely misconceived.

"Ms Jones’ belief is that these complaints being lodged with the Standards Commissioner are without foundation.

"As these matters are the subject of ongoing inquiries, it would be inappropriate for Ms Jones to make any further comment."

The published WhatsApp texts show a member of staff being messaged in response to a query about an expenses claim: "If you could always do more than it says, that’d be fab, thanks", followed by a thumbs up emoji.

Another message adds: "When doing Petrol thing – always make more than I did – add in stuff please ok" followed by thumbs up and hands together emojis.

Asked whether they should "add in" such things as "visits to constituency office", a reply says "Yes – stuff like that", again followed by hands together.

BBC Wales said it couldn't confirm the full context of the interchanges.

In the wake of the alleged message revelations, both the Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds and the Labour Shadow Welsh Secretary called for Ms Jones to be suspended from the Conservative group by Senedd Tory group leader Andrew RT Davies.

Mr Davies announced on Friday afternoon that he had asked her to step away from her Shadow Cabinet role as Culture spokesperson, although she still retains the Tory whip.

The Tory Senedd leader said: "I have asked Laura Anne Jones to step back from the Welsh Conservative Shadow Cabinet while investigations take place.

"We will not be making any comments on any active investigations being carried out."

When news first surfaced about the police probe last month, which South Wales Police have confirmed, Ms Jones said: "I would co-operate fully with any investigation into my activities as a Member of the Senedd, as would be expected of any member.

“The standards process is confidential, and I would expect others not to provide a running commentary, or they may risk jeopardising the integrity of that process.”