Welsh government to address handling of allegations against minister who took his own life

Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones will make a statement following a meeting of Welsh Labour Assembly members to discuss the handling of allegations of inappropriate behaviour against former minister Carl Sargeant, officials have said.

The Welsh First Minister has been facing calls to quit after it emerged Mr Sargeant was unaware of the details of the allegations against him at the time of his death on Tuesday.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Jones said he would meet Labour AMs in the assembly at Cardiff Bay to "remember Carl and discuss the tragic events of the past week".

Today, a spokesman for the Welsh Government confirmed Mr Jones would make a statement to the media following the meeting at the Welsh Government offices in Cathays Park, Cardiff.

Mr Sargeant, 49, was facing allegations of "unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping" and was sacked as a Welsh Government minister and suspended from the Labour Party last Friday by Mr Jones.

The Alyn and Deeside AM’s family said he had been denied "natural justice" because he was unaware of the details of the allegations against him at the time of his death.

His family said Mr Sargeant’s distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded "common courtesy, decency or natural justice".

Bernie Attridge, deputy leader of Flintshire County Council and a councillor in Mr Sargeant’s home town, Connah’s Quay, demanded the First Minister’s resignation.

Mr Sargeant is understood to have killed himself four days after being sacked from his role as communities and children secretary in the Welsh Government.

Labour AM Jenny Rathbone also raised concerns about the situation.

She said: "It is a basic fairness that you have got to know what the accusations are against you in order to be able to respond, but that doesn’t mean to say we don’t need to take allegations seriously, we obviously do."

Asked whether Mr Jones should step down, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Mr Sargeant’s death as a "terrible tragedy" and said it would be wrong to speculate.

He said: "His family is devastated.

"He was suspended last week. This tragedy happened a few days later.

"Clearly an inquest will follow. Inquiries will then follow. We will have to await the outcome of those. It would be wrong for any speculation by me or anybody else to take place on those circumstances."

Former Welsh Government minister Leighton Andrews has alleged there was a "toxic" culture of "minor bullying, mind-games, power-games, favouritism" and "inconsistency of treatment to different ministers" during the 2011 to 2016 Assembly term.

He claims there was "deliberate personal undermining" of Mr Sargeant from within the Welsh Labour Government over several years.

The former public services minister said he raised one specific complaint with Mr Jones in 2014, which he says he had direct evidence of, but alleges "there was no due process".

In a blog published on his website today he added: "Carl’s solicitor, his family and friends, believe that he was not given the benefit of due process over the complaints made against him, and that the interviews given on Monday by the First Minister prejudiced any inquiry in themselves.

"Friends in north Wales tell me those interviews fuelled Carl’s despair.

"But in terms of due process, they undermined what had been set in train when the issue had been handed off to the Labour Party last Friday.

"There was no due process either when I made my complaint to the First Minister in 2014."

The inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death will be opened and adjourned at 1pm on Monday, at the coroner’s court in Ruthin, north Wales.


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