Wales first minister orders Sargeant inquiry

Carl Sargeant
Image caption Carl Sargeant died on Tuesday after an investigation was launched into his conduct

An independent inquiry will be held into the first minister’s handling of Carl Sargeant’s sacking, days before he was found dead.

First Minister Carwyn Jones ordered the inquiry shortly after representatives of Mr Sargeant’s family said a probe should start ‘immediately’.

The AM for for Alyn and Deeside was being investigated over claims of “touching or groping”.

He was understood to have taken his own life on Tuesday.

Mr Jones previously said he would be open to scrutiny over how he sacked Mr Sargeant on Friday.

But he initially said an inquiry should only be held if it was not possible for the AM’s family to get answers through an inquest.

A spokesman for the first minister said: “Further to the first minister’s comments yesterday about the need for independent scrutiny of his actions and decisions in relation to Carl Sargeant, he agrees that there should be an independent inquiry and it would be proper to ask a senior QC to lead that work.

“To ensure this happens separately from his office, the first minister has asked the permanent secretary to begin preparatory work for this inquiry, and to make contact with the family to discuss the terms of reference and the identity of the QC.

“It is our understanding that such an inquiry should not take place before the outcome of a coroner’s inquest – but we will take further advice on this matter.”

The statement from the Welsh Government was released minutes after a solicitor for the family said they were “deeply” concerned the first minister suggested that the answers the family seek should be dealt with in a coroner’s inquest.

They called for a “full independent inquiry” to “be established immediately” in consultation with the family.

“What a coroner’s inquest cannot determine or appear to be determining is the civil or criminal liability, to apportion guilt or attribute blame, or to be seen to apportion guilt or to attribute blame,” the statement read.

“An independent inquiry will ask all the questions that need to be asked and have not been answered, and will determine the reasons for the serious failings in following the correct procedures, practices and protocols, and the reasons for the complete abdication of responsibility and duty of care that was owed to Carl.”

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