Probe into AM Carl Sargeant's death to take 'at least four months'

Reporter:

David Humphreys

Inquiries into events surrounding a late Assembly Member's death will take “at least four months”.

Ken Skates, Labour AM for Clwyd South and Welsh Government cabinet secretary for economy and infrastructure, told the BBC's WalesLive programme that he expects inquiries into events around the death of Carl Sargeant last year will go on into the spring.

Former Alyn and Deeside AM Mr Sargeant, 49, was found dead at home on Englefield Avenue, Connah's Quay, on November 7.

Just four days earlier, the married father-of-two and AM for 14 years, had been sacked by First Minister Carwyn Jones as Welsh Government cabinet secretary for communities and children following allegations made about his personal conduct towards women.

He denied those allegations, vowing to clear his name and return to his job in government.

After his death, the First Minister ordered three inquiries to be set up to investigate his own handling of the situation – to be chaired by Paul Bowen QC with the approval of Mr Sargeant's family – and whether he had breached the ministerial code and misled the Assembly over allegations of bullying.

An investigation found “no evidence of prior unauthorised sharing of information” about the reshuffle in November when Mr Sargeant was sacked.

On Tuesday, Mr Sargeant’s son Jack won retained the Assembly seat for Labour and said his victory was not the time for discussions on those inquiries.

Speaking on Wednesday's broadcast, Mr Skates said: “As Jack identified, there are inquiries that will examine all of the questions that are being asked.

“The inquiries are going to be ongoing for at least four months I believe.”

Mr Sargeant’s family released correspondence between his solicitor Huw Bowden and the Labour Party following allegations made against him relating to his conduct, confirming he was not aware of the exact details of the allegations at the time of his death.

They said his distress at being unable to defend himself properly meant he was not afforded “common courtesy, decency or natural justice”.

The Labour Party subsequently confirmed that they would close the investigation into the late AM following his death.

In a public statement two days after Mr Sargeant died, the First Minister said he had “no alternative” to take the course of action he did.

At Cathays Park in Cardiff, Mr Jones said he hoped people would understand that he “quite properly did all that I could to make sure that everything was being done by the book” in relation to claims made about Mr Sargeant.

On how the investigations will impact Mr Jones' future as First Minister, Mr Skates said: “We've got the inquiries taking place to answers all of those questions

“I think it's essential that the people that are carrying out those inquiries are given the time and opportunity to do the work that needs to be done.”

Professor Roger Awan-Scully, Professor of Political Science in the Wales Governance Centre at  Cardiff University, told the programme that “unless all of these inquiries come out completely clearing the First Minister, it seems very difficult how he can regain the position and authority he once held.”

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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