Social Media

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Family of late Welsh minister Carl Sargeant in legal bid to challenge inquiry

Written by Cathy Gordon

The widow of a former Welsh Government minister who was found dead while facing sexual misconduct allegations is to urge the High Court to allow her to challenge the legality of an inquiry into his sacking.

A judge in London will hear a fresh application for a judicial review by Bernie Sargeant on Tuesday.

An investigation into the way her husband Carl Sargeant was treated by First Minister Carwyn Jones has been suspended pending her legal move relating to how it will proceed.

Mr Sargeant, 49, was found hanged at his home last November, four days after being removed from his role as cabinet secretary for communities and children while facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

The politician, from Connah's Quay, North Wales, was suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of "unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping" on November 3.

His family have said he was not told the details of what he was accused of and was unable to properly defend himself.

The father-of-two was found dead at his home on November 7.

The First Minister announced an independent inquiry into how he handled his former minister's sacking.

Mrs Sargeant is seeking to challenge the legality of the operation of the inquiry, and has spoken publicly of her concerns that the investigation could become a "cover-up".

The High Court action was launched to challenge the "unlawful" decision-making of the First Minister of Wales and the Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Government in relation to the investigation's operational protocol, which will govern how it will proceed.

Mrs Sargeant's lawyers say she is challenging a number of decisions.

They include a decision to "bar the family's lawyers from being able to question witnesses", another "to allow the independent investigator to bar the family from hearings", and also a decision to "prevent oral evidence from being heard in public".

When news of the legal action was announced, Mrs Sargeant said: "We have a right to be able to hear and challenge the evidence.

"Please believe me, we are not trying to be obstructive, we just want to get to the truth and feel that we have a great deal to offer the inquiry. We don't want to be excluded."

She said: "All I want is to understand and process why my husband is no longer here. This whole thing just adds agony to heartbreak, but I owe it to Carl to get the full picture."

A spokesman for the First Minister has said: "This is not, and was never intended to be, a public inquiry. Nor is it an investigation into the tragic death of Carl Sargeant."

He said: "The First Minister established this investigation voluntarily, solely and specifically to give independent scrutiny of the actions and decisions which he took in relation to Carl Sargeant at the time of the ministerial reshuffle last November."

Mr Justice Supperstone will hear argument on Mrs Sargeant's behalf following an earlier rejection of her case by another judge who reviewed her application on paper.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Benjamin Wright / PA Wire.