No ‘natural justice’ for Sargeant

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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 deprived of “natural justice”.

He was found dead on Tuesday after being sacked from the cabinet and suspended from Labour.

He faced allegations of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping”.

Leighton Andrews, a former key ally of Carwyn Jones, said he is “angry” the first minister did TV interviews commenting on allegations.

The former AM and cabinet minister said Mr Jones had not followed “due process” by speaking to the media on Monday.

On Thursday Labour AMs will meet for the first time since Mr Sargeant died.

First Minister Carwyn Jones’s spokesman said: “Like everyone in the Welsh Labour family Carwyn is deeply upset by the death of his friend.

“Tomorrow Welsh Labour AMs will meet in the assembly to remember Carl and discuss the tragic events of the past week. Carwyn will make a further statement following the meeting.”

On Monday Mr Jones told the BBC and ITV there were “a number” of allegations made by women against Mr Sargeant.

But Mr Andrews told BBC One’s Wales Live programme that he felt the first minister should not have made any public comments after the matter was referred to the Labour Party on Friday.

“Having passed this over on Friday to the Labour party, on Monday the first minister is doing interviews with the BBC and I think with ITV as well in which he is elaborating on the story and commenting on the story,” he said.

“Well, that is not due process.

“I’m very angry at those interviews on Monday and the anger within the Labour Party across Wales and beyond the Labour Party in Carl’s local community, people in other political parties, people in no political party.

“People do not think Carl Sargeant has been treated fairly.”

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Media captionLeighton Andrews said the process for dealing with the claims made against Carl Sargeant should have been done “behind closed doors”

His comments came after Mr Sargeant’s family released correspondence between his solicitor and Labour to highlight their concern over his treatment.

It shows Mr Sargeant pushed for more specific details on the claims, and that his mental well-being was being affected.

Relatives said he was distressed at being unable to defend himself.

The Labour Party said that, in line with agreed procedure, the nature of the allegations was outlined to Mr Sargeant.

The Alyn and Deeside AM had vowed to clear his name after being sacked as communities secretary by Mr Jones on Friday, but said he did not know the details of the allegations.

It is understood he took his own life.

‘Unspecific allegations’

A family spokesman said on Wednesday they were publishing the correspondence “in light of the continued unwillingness” of the Labour Party “to clarify the nature of the allegations made against Carl”.

“Up to the point of his tragic death on Tuesday morning Carl was not informed of any of the detail of the allegations against him, despite requests and warnings regarding his mental welfare,” the spokesman said.

“The correspondence also discloses the solicitor’s concern that media appearances by the first minister on Monday were prejudicing the inquiry.

“The family wish to disclose the fact that Carl maintained his innocence and he categorically denied any wrongdoing.

“The distress of not being able to defend himself properly against these unspecified allegations meant he was not afforded common courtesy, decency or natural justice.”

In a statement through solicitors later, the family added that they hope “there will be a full investigation and scrutiny of the way that the relevant parties concerned dealt with the allegations, Mr Sargeant personally and the statements that have been made in the press and media”.

“Those that owed a clear duty of care to Carl and to his family will, no doubt in due course, need to provide clarity on their respective positions in this tragedy,” they added.

“No support was offered to Mr Sargeant other than that personally offered by close friends and family,” the family added.

The emails

Carl Sargeant’s family have released two emails and a letter sent between his solicitor and Welsh Labour. It includes:

  • An email from his solicitor that alleges First Minister Carwyn Jones prejudiced “what is allegedly an independent enquiry” by Labour
  • A letter that said he was accused of “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” – allegations Mr Sargeant had denied

Read the correspondence here

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Media captionMP Mark Tami says if procedures were followed in the run-up to Carl Sargeant’s death something had gone “badly wrong”.

Mr Sargeant’s Westminster constituency colleague, Labour MP Mark Tami, said Mr Sargeant’s family were “angry” because “they obviously have questions about the process and how it has ended up with this”.

“I think they need some space to try as best they can to come to terms with what has happened to Carl,” he said.

“If the procedure’s been followed then we need to look at the procedure because something’s gone badly wrong.”

The first minister 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.

Jenny Rathbone, Labour AM for Cardiff Central, said she felt Mr Sargeant “wasn’t 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 BBC Radio Wales’ Good Morning Wales programme.

UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton called on Mr Jones to resign, saying he “failed to fulfil his duty of care” to Mr Sargeant.

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

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh affairs editor

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

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

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Following allegations brought to the attention of Welsh Labour by Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones, an investigation was launched by the UK party.

“The Labour Party Governance and Legal Unit spoke with Carl Sargeant and, in line with agreed procedure, outlined the nature of the allegations that had been received and how the complaints process works.”

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

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