Car­wyn leads trib­ute to ‘friend and col­league’ Carl Sargeant

Western Mail - - NEWS - Martin Shipton Chief re­porter martin.shipton@waleson­line.co.uk

TRIB­UTES to Labour politi­cian Carl Sargeant, who was found dead last week four days af­ter los­ing his Cab­i­net job af­ter un­spec­i­fied al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment were made against him, were led by First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones in a special ple­nary ses­sion at the Senedd yes­ter­day.

Mr Jones said he re­mem­bered Mr Sargeant as a politi­cian, a col­league and a friend: “He had a knack of turn­ing dif­fi­cult pieces of leg­is­la­tion into some­thing worth­while. There’s no bet­ter ex­am­ple of that than the Well­be­ing of Fu­ture Gen­er­a­tions Act – an idea that be­gan as one line of a man­i­festo and noth­ing else.”

Mr Jones said that when he told Mr Sargeant he was tak­ing that pol­icy through he replied “Thanks for that”.

The First Min­is­ter added: “It is now be­ing talked about around the world”.

Mr Jones said Mr Sargeant had been “ever present” in the Cab­i­net, and with good rea­son: “I ap­pointed him be­cause he was good at leg­is­la­tion be­cause he was good with peo­ple and he brought the voice of Dee­side to the heart of Gov­ern­ment.”

Welsh Con­ser­va­tive leader Andrew RT Davies said Mr Sargeant had wanted to cre­ate a bet­ter Wales: “Politi­cians are lucky to get one piece of leg­is­la­tion through in their life­time but Carl got four through. Each piece will have a mas­sive out­come here in Wales. We have lost a col­league and a friend but Bernie, Lucy and Carl’s son have lost a fa­ther and a husband and that pain and dis­tress must be burn­ing fiercely.”

Mr Davies said he hoped they could re­mem­ber the good times with a “fa­ther, men­tor and in­spi­ra­tion”. He added: “He was one of the most gen­uine men I had the priv­i­lege to meet. He has a legacy to be proud of and it’s been a priv­i­lege and an hon­our to call Carl a fel­low As­sem­bly Mem­ber.”

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “He was a politi­cian who was au­then­ti­cally work­ing class. He was com­mit­ted to and rooted in his com­mu­nity.”

She de­scribed him as a “politi­cian who could never be ac­cused of be­ing out of touch”, adding that his loss was a “blow to this As­sem­bly”.

Ukip Wales leader Neil Hamil­ton spoke of the al­le­ga­tions made against Mr Sargeant, re­call­ing his own feel­ings af­ter be­ing ac­cused of rape along with his wife.

Mr Hamil­ton said: “Carl’s fam­ily must feel they have been hit by an ex­press train. There is a hu­man cost to the po­lit­i­cal bear pit.”

Mr Hamil­ton said the As­sem­bly had col­lec­tively failed its col­league: “He was a gen­uine man of the peo­ple. He never ac­quired airs and graces.

“He never saw him­self as more im­por­tant than any­body else.”

Cab­i­net Mem­ber Les­ley Grif­fiths said it was still hard to process Mr Sargeant’s death: “He was proud to be elected to this place in 2003. I fol­lowed in 2007 and we quickly be­came great friends.”

Mr Sargeant had been proud of his work­ing class back­ground.

Ms Grif­fiths said: “There are very few Bills and Acts Carl didn’t have a hand in. He was full of fun and very mis­chievous at times. He took his role as an elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive se­ri­ously. He was proud to be an ad­vo­cate for his con­stituency and es­pe­cially those who didn’t have a voice.”

She said: “Carl had a wicked sense of hu­mour and loved mak­ing me and oth­ers laugh.

“His ban­ter was leg­endary and he al­ways won the award for heck­ler of the year.”

A few years ago, he had de­cided to teach him­self to cro­chet, us­ing YouTube while on the train home.

“He made some beau­ti­ful items,” she said.

Ms Grif­fiths said she loved watch­ing the looks of other pas­sen­gers see­ing this “burly guy cro­chet­ing a pink baby bon­net”.

He had a “beau­ti­ful, sen­si­tive and vul­ner­a­ble soul”.

She added: “I loved him as a brother, even though he called me mother.

“I know he loved me as a sis­ter. We are heart­bro­ken he is no longer with us.”

Pre­sid­ing Of­fi­cer Elin Jones thanked all AMs for their “sin­cere and warm” trib­utes.

She said oth­ers had wanted to speak but she hadn’t been able to call every­one.

She ended the ses­sion with her own trib­ute, say­ing: “We come to this As­sem­bly from many and var­ied back­grounds, rep­re­sent­ing ev­ery com­mu­nity in Wales. Some­times this place can change us – it didn’t change Carl Sargeant. He re­mained true to his com­mu­nity and his back­ground.

“He in­flu­enced us, not the other way round.”

> Carl Sargeant, 49, was found dead at his home four days af­ter be­ing re­moved from his role as cab­i­net sec­re­tary for com­mu­ni­ties and chil­dren

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