No alternative but to sack Carl Sargeant says Carwyn Jones


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Media captionCarwyn Jones said he had “no alternative” but to sack Carl Sargeant

Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones has said he had no alternative but to sack Carl Sargeant following allegations about his conduct.

Mr Sargeant’s body was found on Tuesday, four days after he was dismissed as communities minister and suspended from the Welsh Labour party.

It is understood he took his own life. Mr Jones said he had acted “by the book” over the matter.

He said he would try to provide answers which Mr Sargeant’s family deserved.

Claims about inappropriate “touching or groping” were made to the first minister’s office last week.

Following Friday’s sacking, the Alyn and Deeside AM had vowed to clear his name but said he did not know the details of the allegations.

Mr Jones met Labour AMs on Thursday to explain how he handled conduct allegations against Mr Sargeant.

The inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death will be opened and adjourned at 13:00 GMT on Monday, at the coroner’s court in Ruthin, north Wales.

Former Welsh Government minister Leighton Andrews and Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies have called for an independent inquiry, which Mr Jones suggested could take place in future.

Mr Jones made a statement from Welsh Government headquarters in Cardiff on Thursday afternoon, following a meeting with Labour AMs at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay.

He called the situation “the darkest days” any of those at the assembly could remember but were the “darkest of all for the family”.


A relentless drip-drip of disinformation had a strain on Mr Sargeant and others, Leighton Andrews says

There has been criticism of the way Mr Sargeant was treated and his family has called for an inquiry.

Mr Jones, speaking publicly for the first time since Mr Sargeant died, said: “There are a lot of inaccuracies in the press and many of you have questions to ask about what happened last week.

“Everybody is grieving and it is not appropriate for me to get into the precise detail.

“These are matters for the future – things that will need to be properly disclosed through what should be a coroner’s inquest.”

“As there will in all probability be an inquest, I and my team will of course be cooperating fully with any questions that are raised there.”

“The family deserve to have their questions answered and if that isn’t possible through the inquest then I will endeavour to make that happen through other means.”

He paid tribute to Mr Sargeant, adding: “Carl was a true force of nature – he drove through more legislation than any other minister. Not just through force of argument, but through force of personality.”

Despite speculation Mr Jones could have resigned on Thursday, the speech made no reference to his own political future.

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs editor

When Carwyn Jones finally appeared in front of the cameras today to deliver a statement on the death of Carl Sergeant and the events that led up to it, there was an expectation that the first minister would attempt to answer at least some of the many questions that have been raised since the former secretary’s death.

Instead, while paying tribute to the man he described as a “true force of nature” he did little to answer the questions raised by Mr Sergeant’s family and others.

A reference to a possible independent enquiry seemed equivocal at best.

The first minister’s reference to “inaccuracies in the press” again raises more questions than answers.

If reports are inaccurate – why not correct them and why refuse to answer questions from journalists who are trying their best to report the situation accurately?

Carwyn Jones is human, of course, and I have no doubt that his grief and shock are genuine.

That may explain why a statement which would have been perfectly apt in the hours following Mr Sargeant’s death seems insufficient and vague when delivered two and half days later.

Former Welsh Government minister Leighton Andrews said a number of people were expecting a “definite commitment to an independent inquiry” from Mr Jones.

“We weren’t given clarity on that. The possibility of that was mentioned,” he told Radio 4’s PM programme, adding there is a “deep desire” within Welsh Labour “for an independent look”.

Mr Davies, Welsh Conservative leader, said the “tragic episode” has “significantly undermined public confidence in the First Minister and the Labour Party”

“The actions taken over the last week must be fully and independently investigated at the earliest opportunity,” said Mr Davies.

Earlier Mr Andrews alleged that Mr Sargeant had been the target of bullying in the Welsh Government.

Former public services minister Mr Andrews – who alleged “minor bullying” and “mind games” during his time in government – said during the last assembly term the atmosphere “was toxic”.

He alleged “minor bullying, mind-games, power-games, favouritism, inconsistency of treatment to different ministers, deliberate personal undermining on occasion”.

“The undermining was of ministers, deputy ministers and special advisers,” Mr Andrews said in a statement issued on Thursday.

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Media captionLeighton Andrews said the allegations should have been dealt with “behind closed doors”

The ex-Rhondda AM said he had raised one particular issue with Mr Jones, of which he had direct evidence, but claimed due process was not followed.

Mr Andrews was sacked by Mr Jones from the education brief in 2013 before returning to the front benches as public services minister in 2014.

In his statement, Mr Andrews added: “I found that the atmosphere was unquestionably worse after I returned to government in September 2014 than it had been in the period May 2011-June 2013.

“Carl was unquestionably the target of some of this behaviour. The relentless drip-drip of disinformation – and worse – had a strain on his and others’ mental health.

“The first minister was made aware of this by several ministers, including myself.

“Nothing was done.”

The Welsh Government has declined to respond to Mr Andrews’s claims.

Previous comments by Mr Andrews – and other Labour politicians both privately and publicly – had already increased the pressure on Mr Jones.

Cerys Furlong, chief executive of equality charity Chwarae Teg, said the allegations against Mr Sargeant “need to still be fully investigated in due course, as do the circumstances into his death in a way that respects the feelings of his family”.