Carl Sargeant death: Handling of allegations criticised

Carl Sargeant

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Carl Sargeant was left “humiliated” and “isolated”, one Labour AM said

The sacking of former communities secretary Carl Sargeant has been criticised from within his own party after he was found dead on Tuesday.

Mr Sargeant was removed from the Welsh Government job last Friday after accusations about his behaviour were raised with the first minister.

It is understood the Alyn and Deeside AM took his own life.

Welsh Labour AM Jenny Rathbone said he “clearly wasn’t dealt with fairly in the most basic sense”.

Ms Rathbone, who represents Cardiff Central, said Mr Sargeant was “devastated” after being sacked from his job and suspended by the party.

“If allegations are made against you, you must know what they are so that you can respond to them,” she told BBC Radio Wales.

She 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.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones is facing questions 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.

It is understood the 49-year-old’s solicitor wrote to Welsh Labour over the weekend asking for the detail of the allegations to be put to him, but that he died apparently still unaware of the specifics.

Welsh Labour and the Welsh Government were approached for comment but have not responded.

One Labour AM, who did not wish to be named, said there were “questions for the first minister over this” and another questioned what duty of care 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.

‘Thrown to the wolves’

“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.”

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.”

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.

Sir Alistair said Damian Green “has been allowed to go through a proper process and allowed to give evidence in defence of his view that the allegations are unfounded”.

He added: “It’s always unfortunate if there is a rush to judgement without hearing all sides of the argument.”

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

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