Welsh first minister agrees to inquiry in Sargeant case
The first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, has agreed to launch an independent inquiry into his handling of harassment allegations against Carl Sargeant, following criticism from the sacked minister’s grieving relatives.
A spokesman for Jones said last Friday that a senior QC would examine his “actions and decisions” in relation to the former assembly member, who was found dead earlier last week.
The news came 24 hours after Jones defended his handling of the case in an emotional press conference in which he said he had done everything “by the book”. Minutes before the announcement, Sargeant’s family had released a statement saying the first minister’s apparent reluctance to order an independent inquiry was deeply concerning.
Sargeant, 49, was found dead at his home in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, last Tuesday, having apparently killed himself four days after being sacked as the cabinet secretary for communities and children. It is understood he was facing harassment allegations from three women, which he had denied.
A spokesman for Jones said the first minister had asked the Welsh government’s permanent secretary, Shan Morgan, to begin “preparatory work” for the inquiry and contact Sargeant’s family to discuss its terms of reference and the identity of the QC who will lead it.
The family, however, cast doubt on whether the inquiry would be truly independent of the Welsh government. They said the permanent secretary was not independent because the role reports directly to the first minister. “We believe that a truly independent body must also be responsible for agreeing the terms of reference and appointing the chair and secretariat to the inquiry.”
In Connah’s Quay there has been resentment at the first minister’s sacking of Sargeant, Jones’s subsequent media appearances and the refusal to give Sargeant details about the allegations despite requests from his solicitors.