Carl Sargeant was ‘facing months of hell’ over claims

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There are mounting calls for an inquiry into events surrounding Carl Sargeant’s death

Wales’ first minister’s statement on Carl Sargeant’s death was “too little, too late”, a former colleague has said.

Carwyn Jones said on Thursday he had no alternative but to sack Mr Sargeant, who was found dead on Tuesday.

The Alyn and Deeside AM was being investigated over claims of “touching or groping”, and is understood to have taken his own life.

Former minister Leighton Andrews said Mr Sargeant would have faced months of “hell” as the claims were investigated.

Meanwhile Mark Tami, the Labour MP for Mr Sargeant’s constituency, said procedures “were not up to it” and joined calls for an inquiry.

Mr Sargeant was dismissed from his job as communities secretary last Friday, and suspended by the Labour Party.

He had vowed to clear his name, but said he had not been made aware of the full details of the allegations.

The former minister was found dead in his home four days later.

Mr Andrews, who was the Rhondda AM between 2003 and 2016, was critical of the decision by the first minister to give media interviews about the sacking, after the party’s investigation had been launched.

“I was severely troubled by the process,” he told the BBC on Friday.

“This was not eased by remarks the first minister made on Monday when he expanded on the allegations.

“I was of the strong feeling that after the matter was handed to the Labour Party on Friday, people should not have been further commenting.”

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The former colleague and friend of Mr Sargeant Leighton Andrews has been critical of the first minister

Mr Andrews said this had “intensified pressure” on Mr Sargeant.

The former cabinet minister added: “The process would have gone on well into January next year and there was no short conclusion.

“It would have been hell for him and his family for some time.”

Mr Andrews said the first minister was likely to be feeling “traumatised” by events.

He said Mr Sargeant had been instrumental in Mr Jones’ campaign to become first minister.

But, commenting on Thursday’s statement by the first minister, he said: “In north Wales, in Carl Sargeant’s own constituency, in Connah’s Quay, where he grew up and still lived, it will be seen as too little, too late.”

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Mark Tami said Carwyn Jones had not been clear on whether an independent inquiry would take place

Meanwhile, Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said he did not think the statement would satisfy those angered by the process and grieving for Mr Sargeant.

He joined Mr Andrews, the Welsh Conservatives and Plaid Cymru in calling for a probe.

“We need to have an inquiry into what exactly had happened, and the family are happy with those terms of reference,” he told BBC Wales.

Mr Tami said he was “slightly confused” about Mr Jones’ indications over an inquiry – whether there would be one or only if an inquest “didn’t come to something”.

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

“We need to look at those procedures because they’re not safeguarding. We’ve obviously got to look to protect those who are victims or those who are making allegations,” he added.

“But equally we have a duty of care to those who the allegations are being made against.”

Assembly members will pay formal tributes to Mr Sargeant at the Senedd when business resumes on Tuesday.

An inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death is due to be opened on Monday.

David Banks, an expert in media law, told BBC Radio Wales it was “nonsense” to say an inquest prevented anyone giving any comments or explanation.

“Bureaucracy uses the fact of an inquest to try to shut down any comments or explanation as to what happened to someone before their death because of a notional idea that inquests can be prejudiced,” he told the Good Morning Wales programme.

“We can have some answers now, and certainly the family of Mr Sargeant and the wider community he represented deserve those answers.”

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