Carl Sargeant not given natural justice, family says

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Media captionCarl Sargeant “wasn’t dealt with fairly”, says Labour AM Jenny Rathbone

The family of sacked Welsh Labour minister Carl Sargeant has said he was accused of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” but was deprived of “natural justice”.

He was found dead on Tuesday after being suspended by the party.

Correspondence between Mr Sargeant’s solicitor and Labour has been released.

The family said he was distressed at being unable to defend himself due to the lack of detail about the claims.

It is understood the Alun and Deeside AM, who was sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones on Friday, took his own life.

Meanwhile a senior Labour MP has said an independent investigation is not needed into how the party handled the allegations against Mr Sargeant.

Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler had initially called for a review, saying it did not “sound as though everything that should have happened, happened”.

She later said she was satisfied that the appropriate process had been followed.

Welsh Labour AM Jenny Rathbone told BBC Radio Wales she felt Mr Sargeant had “not been dealt with fairly”.

“If allegations are made against you, you must know what they are so that you can respond to them,” she said on the Good Morning Wales programme.

The Cardiff Central AM added: “I’m not aware of any form of pastoral care offered but fortunately there was lots of informal care from people who loved him.”

Mr Sargeant’s Westminster constituency colleague, Labour MP Mark Tami said: “It’s very difficult to defend yourself against something if you don’t know what you’re defending yourself against.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones is facing questions from within his own party about how the situation was handled, after finding out about the allegations early last week.

Staff from his office, but not civil servants, spoke to the women involved and referred their complaints to Welsh Labour, which was investigating, and suspended Mr Sargeant.

Brecon and Radnorshire Conservative MP Chris Davies called on Mr Jones to resign, saying the way he had handled the matter was “terrible”.

What did Carwyn Jones know about allegations of misconduct against Carl Sargeant – and when?

In a television interview two days ago, the day before the death of the ex-cabinet secretary, Carwyn Jones insisted that the first time he heard of the allegations was last week.

But multiple sources from more than one party have told me that Carwyn Jones had discussed allegations of misconduct with Carl Sargeant once before, and had received an explanation of the incident.

Are the sources right? The simple answer is I do not know.

But Carwyn Jones knows the truth and he should answer the question as soon as possible.

More from Vaughan

Welsh Labour and the Welsh Government were approached for comment but have not responded. In his first on-camera comments since Tuesday, Mr Jones told ITV News he was “saddened by events”.

“It’s important that we reflect on it and that we remember the family today,” he said.

One Labour AM, who did not wish to be named, said there were “questions for the first minister over this” and another questioned what support Mr Sargeant had received since Friday.

“I think there are questions about the procedure that was followed,” said a third Labour AM, who also did not want to be identified.

“The suspicion is that there was a political decision to remove him from the cabinet. I don’t have any quarrel with that.

“But to mix the two things was wrong.”

Image caption

A book of condolence for Mr Sargeant was opened in the assembly on Wednesday

The AM pointed to the fact that UK government First Secretary of State Damian Green has been allowed to stay in post while under investigation.

“It’s hard to understand why Carl was thrown to the wolves,” the Labour AM said, adding Mr Sargeant had been “humiliated” and “isolated without any decision being made that he’s guilty”.

“There’s deep unease in the group about the way this has been handled.”

A book of condolence for Mr Sargeant was opened in the assembly on Wednesday.

Sophie Howe, future generations commissioner and a former special advisor to Mr Sargeant, paid tribute to him on Wednesday, saying: “He had a wicked sense of humour and refused to conform to the perception of a stuffy politician – he wasn’t – and that’s why people loved him.”

Mr Sargeant was in New York with his wife last week. On his return, he met Mr Jones on Friday when he was sacked and suspended from the party.

At the time, Mr Sargeant said he was looking forward to clearing his name, but did not know the details of the allegations.

North Wales Police was called to his home in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, about 11:30 GMT on Tuesday. His death is not being treated as suspicious.

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Media captionSir Alistair Graham said Mr Sargeant should have had a chance to defend himself

Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told BBC One’s Wales Live programme the Welsh Government was wrong to sack Mr Sargeant without telling him the details of the allegations against him.

He said a senior lawyer should carry out a review of the process.

“I would have thought the sensible thing to do would be to ask a suitably qualified independent person, perhaps a senior lawyer, to carry out a review of how it has been handled both by the Welsh Government and the Labour party,” he said.

Former Plaid Cymru leader and former deputy first minister Ieuan Wyn Jones told BBC Radio Cymru anyone facing allegations over their personal conduct should be given the details.

“I would hope that anyone who is accused are treated fairly and are given information regarding those accusations so that they are given the chance to defend themselves,” he said.

Wales Live, Wednesday, 22:30 GMT, BBC One Wales.

Source: BCCI- Top Stories

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