Carl Sargeant’s tragic death shouldn’t be misused to stop women coming forward

Carl Sargeant (1968-2017) . Picture by National Assembly (CC BY 2.0)

Ifan Morgan Jones

Carl Sargeant served his country as an elected representative for 13 years and his contribution as an Assembly Member and as a minister won’t be forgotten.

His death yesterday at the age of just 49 was a tragedy and the outpouring of grief by all who knew him showed that he was both loved and respected in the Assembly.

No one knows what motivated Carl Sargeant to take his own life, and only a few what the accusations against him were.

It’s unfortunate, however, that this did not stop many speculating within minutes of the horrifying announcement of his death yesterday afternoon.

First to comment were those who considered the recent revelations about sexual harassment, in politics and elsewhere, to be a ‘witch hunt’ which has now ‘claimed its first victim’.

It feels wrong to have to descend into a political debate so soon after a man’s death. But this rapidly forming narrative is one that must be resisted.

‘Witch hunt’ implies that this is a made up problem, while the reality is the sexual harassment and abuse of women is a massive problem in our society and it has to be tackled.

We know that almost 100,000 women are raped in the UK every year – which means about 5,000 in Wales. Only 1% of the perpetrators are ever convicted.

That’s just the most serious form of sexual abuse. Less serious forms, and sexual harassment more generally, are rife.

Yes, sometimes innocent men are accused and go through hell for no reason. Carl Sargeant may be among them. We have no idea.

But what we need to appreciate is that the number of men falsely accused is tiny in comparison with the number of men who get away with it and are free to do it again.

This isn’t a victimless crime that can be swept under the carpet. Sexual abuse and harassment can leave deep psychological scars on women that ruin lives.

Silence

Many have argued that the names of men accused of sexual harassment or abuse should not be made public. That by naming them, they face trial by media, and are guilty until proven innocent.

I won’t defend the media’s handling of this issue – today’s Sun front page is particularly stomach-churning.

But the unfortunate truth is that the only way many sexual abusers or harassers face justice is if many women come forward and, independently of one another, give very similar accounts of what they suffered.

The only way this happens is if someone is named publicly. At that point, other victims realise that they are not alone, and are less likely to be accused of being fantasists.

Even then, it’s a hard slog. The women have to appear in court and have every detail of their traumatic story picked over by a defence team that will imply that they’re either lying or deranged.

At the end of all that, few prosecutions result in a conviction.

Women already have every reason not to come forward, without also being accused of driving innocent men to their deaths.

We have no idea what the accusations against Carl Sargeant were, what substance they had, and what part they played in his decisions to take his own life.

But as has been pointed out since his death, Carl Sargeant fought for action on gender equality and domestic violence, and whatever his motivations it’s fair to say that it wasn’t to silence women.

Unfortunately, there’s no good way of dealing with accusations of this nature. It’s a nasty, horrible business. But claiming that it’s a ‘witch hunt’ and pretending the problem doesn’t exist is the worst possible option.

In the light of the Harvey Weinstein accusations, women are finally finding their voice on this issue. I dearly hope that Carl Sargeant’s tragic death isn’t misused by those who would wish to silence them again.

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84 Comments

  1. But surely the point is that the way this situation was handled was dreadful. I thought everyone in this country was innocent until proven guilty.

    It was very stupid of him to be sacked and simultaneously accused.

    This really could be the end of Carwyn Jones.

    • How so? It is 100% normal to be suspended from work if your workplace is investigating your behaviour. No information other than “personal conduct” was released. It is hard to imagine how it could have been kept entirely queit – do you think the media would have failed to notice and question the sudden absence of a minister?

      • He wasn’t suspended. He was sacked. And the investigation is/was being conducted internally by the Labour Party, rather than being referred to any actual authority.

        • Sacked from a role that doesn’t exist any more?

          • Yes. The job title went with him. Often happens with reshuffles, which often happen as a result of ministers getting sacked.
            I realise I’m falling into the trap of letting this distract from the bigger and undoubtedly more important issue, ironically exactly the kind of thing that this article warns against, but Jones’s handling of this must be questioned. His only claim to competence as a politician is as a manager: He has no vision, no charisma, no spark, merely a vague flair for administration. And he has mismanaged this.

            • ” His only claim to competence as a politician is as a manager: …” with emphasis on “His”. Very few others regard him as particularly competent in that aspect of his role but the boy has huge capacity for self importance.

            • So how would you have changed the process to hide the absence of a minister from the press and to protect the accusers if the nature of the allegations were such that in and of themselves they would personally identify the person who made it?

              • Just to clarify, at no point did I state that he shouldn’t have been sacked, just that he was sacked (rather than suspended, which is what you were implying). Removing him from office while he defended himself against the allegations was entirely appropriate and there are clear precedents. However, he had every right to know what he was facing. He appears to have been told it was “unwanted attention, inappropriate touching or groping” which covers everything from being unnecessarily creepy to (let’s call a spade a spade) sexual assault, which is so wide a range of potential offences as to have been meaningless. In addition, referring this to the party rather than the Assembly authorities looks plain dodgy – Jones must have realised that.
                Anyway, as I said, this is a distraction from the more important issue that, we all know and didn’t really need telling, cuts right across our society.

                • He was suspended and the Labour party rules say that a suspended member cannot hold an office in the party. There is nothing to suggest he wouldn’t have been given the role back had the investigation come to nothing. (except for the fact of a badly timed reshuffle.) That’s not the same as sacked.

  2. Indeed, Carwyn Jones has A LOT to answer for. He should be ashamed. This was an allegation, Sargeant wasn’t even arrested. To fire someone because of an allegation is a true knee-jerk response.

    • It is 100% normal to be suspended from work while your workplace investigates accusations of wrongdoing by you.

      And I’m sure you understand that there are cases which warrant dismissal but fall short of being illegal. Or do you truly expect workplaces to tolerate any sort of inappropriate behaviour short of rape?

      • ‘Short of rape’? Who says that the behaviour in question was of such a serious nature? I would have thought that a person should only by suspended from their job if they are a threat to the public or their fellow workers. Reading and listening to the responses to Carl Sergeant’s death from fellow politicians/workers/friends this certainly doesn’t seem to be the case.

        • Well RdWd for one – suggesting he should either have been arrested or left alone. Do you have any particular reason to think that an except to the normal rules of what’s considered acceptable versus worth suspension took place here?

      • I agree that it is normal, and advisable even, to be suspended should a workplace need to investigate serious allegations, but the choice of wording for many media outlets has been that he was ‘fired’ (even if he was suspended). This article has made a clear case that semantics are of key importance in swaying the public’s opinion currently, whether it’s witch-hunt, or in this case choice of ‘fired’.

        • But that’s the point we don’t know if they were ‘serious allegation’ do we? And by all accounts, even Carl Sergeant didn’t know what the allegations were and who made them?

          • Very true. In the end, Welsh Labour’s complete dismissal of Sargeant without any sort of information was peculiar; and today, it has indeed resulted in tragedy.

        • Correct. None of the people involved directly used the word ‘fired’/’sacked’ the mainstream press have to carry that one. (And the people calling it a witchhunt that he was ‘sacked’)

    • It’s worth remembering that all the controversy prior to his death was that political parties had not been doing enough to deal with unwanted sexual behaviour. If allegations had been made about Carl Sargeant’s behaviour and the FM had allowed him to stay in his post that would have been a very large scandal. Ministers are sacked quite regularly when possible wrongdoing comes to light. If it is found that they did nothing wrong, or that the wrongdoing was not serious, they are then restored to government.

      If there’s any criticism of the FM it is that the sacking was carried out in the midst of a high-profile reshuffle, which gave the whole thing a ‘you’re fired!’ vibe that was perhaps unnecessary. – Ifan

      • Ifan: absolutely, it’s worth stressing the point about the reshuffling last week. I thought it a given that I was talking about THAT that the FM needs to ‘answer for’ in my comment. Reading it back I can see it doesn’t come across that way. I’m certainly not insinuating anything else!

      • I am back to the same thing with you once again Ifan…..we don’t know what the allegations were and who made them. Nevertheless, you are fully supportive of actions taken against a male which might destroy his career and even worse. Then Leigh Richards talks or ‘predatory behaviour’ of some men. What is the definition of ‘predatory behaviour’? I’ve met some females who would even consider looking at them being ‘predatory behaviour’. Thankfully, most females aren’t like that. Why are so many people (including females) upset at Mr Sergeant’s death if he was such a vile predator?

        • Actions taken were within the normal scope of workplace behaviour and discipline/grievance measures. I work in education and i I was accused of “inappropriate personal behaviour” I would without a shadow of a doubt be suspended regardless of whether I’d done it or not, or of how how my mates thought I was a nice person, or how many internet commentators thought it was just some kid out to get me because I gave them a bad mark.

          And it would be upsetting. And regardless of my right to privacy someone would notice and comment on it and that would be upsetting too.

          But the suspension itself would still be the right thing to do.

          That suspension would last until the investigation was complete and then I would be either cleared or disciplined. Suspension is not a punishment. It is part of the process for determining whether punishment is due.

          Much as bail is not a punishment – it’s part of the process. A holding pattern while the facts are established. It’s a sod for the accused if they were innocent – how many innocent people have to struggle to find the money, or do their jobs under the restrictions? But we don’t suggest scrapping the whole system or letting anyone do anything just in case someone decides to respond to even being accused by taking their own life.

          People screaming about how he’s been ‘punished’ for something he may or may not have done are missing the point by a mile.

          I am not defending it I believe “no smoke without fire” or any variation there of. I’m defending it because it’s totally normal and proportionate. The outcome in this case is tragic for his family but NOT a consequence of the process which is utterly standard and reasonable.

        • Why are you more willing to believe that the male than the female is the wronged party?

        • Also, gotta say – if you can’t know when a women would rather you didn’t oggle at her then the solution is easy – don’t.

          • “I work in education and i I was accused of “inappropriate personal behaviour” I would without a shadow of a doubt be suspended regardless of whether I’d done it or not,….”

            Yes fine. But you would also have been told what the accusation or accusations were and where they originated from. Carl Sargeant didn’t know either of these by all accounts. As it happens I know teachers who have had accusations made about them by children and/or parents and they haven’t been suspended. Basically, because the accusation/s which were explained to the accused weren’t considered worth pursuing because they were basically fabricated. You cannot defend yourself if you don’t know what the accusation is.

            This matter wasn’t dealt with properly and it’s resulted in someone taking their own life because of it.

            Why are you more willing to believe that the female than the male is the wronged party?

            • Nope. I wouldn’t be. Or wouldn’t guaranteed to be. My safeguarding policy says I’d be informed “at the appropriate time subject to concerns about confidentiality”.

              Utterly standard.

            • As to why I’m willing to believe the female than the male has been wronged her it’s because statistically more women are harassed than wrongly accuse others of harassment and because I have some familiarity with typical suspension procedures and have no evidence to contrary that this one was incorrectly followed.

        • Er who here has described Carl Sargeant a ‘vile predator’ Daffy? What we know is that serious allegations were made against him by 3 different women and they were in the process of being investigated, and as part of that investigation he was suspended from work – normal practice in any workplace as others have pointed out. Judging by your comments on this post it would seem that you have a problem with people being suspended from work when allegations of sexual misconduct are made against them.

          And widening the discussion further we need to remember that if complaints against jimmy savile had been investigated when they should have been many people would have avoided abuse at his vile hands.When complaints of sexual misconduct are made they have to be investigated.

          • How do you know that serious allegations were made against him by three different women? Are you privy to information most others aren’t? It appears that Mr Sergeant wasn’t aware of the accusations. Is that normal practice to be accused without knowing the accusations and accusers?

            You cannot compare the case of Jimmy Saville with this case. I’m surprised you haven’t somehow managed to throw in Hitler’s name at some point.

            • “Is that normal practice to be accused without knowing the accusations and accusers?”

              Yes. In workplace disciplinary or sexual safeguarding case, and things like whistleblowing? That is indeed normal. You are informed either if it goes to legal representative or “At the appropriate time subject to confidentiality considerations”.

            • i mention savile daffy not to draw comparisons between carl sargeant and savile but because the savile case changed everything – savile’s long trail of abuse meant never again could accusations of sexual misconduct against public figures be allowed to be ignored. Fraid ive no idea where hitler fits in to this discussion.

            • PS. it has been widely reported at least 3 women made allegations against him.

  3. This article very much needed writing and is considered and thoughtful.

    • Agree with those sentiments entirely. Thank you Ifan for posting what as Leia has rightly said is a much needed article. The issue of predatory behaviour of some men towards women in the workplace – or anywhere else for that matter – must not be swept under the carpet as a result of the tragedy of carl sergeant’s death.

  4. Someone very close to me was suspended from work recently. They were not told what the allegation was. It took the lumbering investigation process 6m to dismiss a spurious complaint. Those 6m were a nightmare for the person and family.
    Those people who seem to blithely accept harm done to innocent accused people as acceptable collateral damage in a broader battle might change their minds if they were put in a similar position.

    • “It took the lumbering investigation process 6m to dismiss a spurious complaint.”

      I think that’s an argument for dealing with spurious complaints quickly and efficiently. There’s no question that these circumstances need to be dealt with better. And I don’t think anyone here is arguing that the feelings of the accused should be disregarded, just that the feelings of the accused is not an argument against women who have legitimate complaints coming forward and voicing them.

      This article dealt specifically with the accusation that claims of sexual abuse and harassment were a ‘witch hunt’, which they clearly aren’t. – Ifan

      • The hysteria of searching for sex-pests in the Assembly, with Assembly politicians and consultant-hangers-on jumping on the Westminster band-wagon, was a witch hunt. The spiked article referred to in another comment seems spot-on when saying “Witness the falling on to swords of MPs who have been merely accused, and accused of the most mundane kinds of behaviour, of things only the most prudish and immature of minds could consider crimes or misdemeanours. Kate Maltby complaining that Damian Green touched her knee, Jane Merrick saying Michael Fallon tried to kiss her. These pathetic accusations by actual adults have contributed to a climate in which even advances are reimagined as ‘sexual predation’ and anyone who once sent a saucy text or told an off-colour joke is instantly branded a pervert, a misogynist, on a spectrum with rapists, and unfit for public life. This is the Kafkaesque hell…”

        • Where you sit on the bus is trivial in the grand scheme of things too. But by your logic above you would have thought the likes of Rosa Parks were making a fuss about nothing. “Stop fussing about which end of the bus park your bum and deal with the violent oppression of voters, woman!”

          it’s the same with sexism and rape culture. The “little” stuff – unwanted touching, oggling, diving into your personal space are the SYMPTOMS of a wider problem. Ignoring the little stuff and expecting to be able to change the big is not an option, it doesn’t work.

  5. I disagree with Leia that it is normal to be suspended from work without knowing why. That should never be the case. That gives too much power to employers to discriminate. Everyone should know what they are accused of. It seems that is what has happened to others accused of impropriety recently. Fair disciplinary procedures need to be in place and will not stop women coming forward.

  6. Capitalist and Welshnash

    What let to this tragic death has been on a gradual rise in our society since the immediate post-war era, with its roots in the Jazz age and before perhaps. And it must be said.

    The advent of blogs, fake news, newspapers of every grade down to the bottom, smartphones, wiretapping, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and such, as well as the denigration of High Culture and the Church, is not compatible with parliamentary democracy because it leads to a plebscape and mob rule when unchecked. People from all rungs of society now have the means to hurl abuse, downright lies and false accusations, and worse, to be taken seriously and given a platform. We speak of protecting women, and rightly so, but who shall protect people of every group and class from the proletariat in this new age where the common man’s opinion is considered of equal weight in any, say medical discussion, as a doctor of medicine? Democracy does not work without experts, renowned public servants and vaulted institutions being protected from random accusations.

  7. Dylan Fernley

    welsh nash you surely on a wind up , didn’t think anyone spouted your deference and servile nonsense anymore , you may be a script writer for harry enfield or some other satirist , but to say that only the great and good should have an opinion shows where you are at , somewhere between the dark ages and victorian era ………

  8. Ifan
    Thank you your reply. My comments were not aimed at your article which I thought was legitimate and balanced.
    It was exactly as you say in your reply a cry for improving the process
    Unfortunately the lumbering process remains par for the course in public organisations.
    I would not call it a witch hunt but unfortunately in the concern to deal with a previously neglected serious issue such as this, due process to investigate the truth of individual allegations can be sidelined.
    I agree that his tragic death should not excuse going back to ignoring or sweeping abuse to women under the carpet.

  9. Here’s my story, for what it is worth.

    A few weeks after I was elected as a Plaid Cymru county councillor (Pontycymer, Bridgend), knocking out a unbroken line of Labour representatives going back generations, a series of posters appeared overnight plastered all over the valley claiming I was a paedophile. The posters were made to look like an extract from a Canadian magazine (I had moved back from Canada a few years previously) that claimed I was on a list of sexual predators the RCMP were seeking for questioning / charging. The local police got involved, made enquires to Canadian police, and concluded there was no evidence to back these claims. I held a public meeting with the police and the whole furore died down. Being a ‘street fighter’ kind of guy, I never once thought about resigning, or running away, committing suicide – although someone who’s sense of self is more contingent on public perception may have gone down that route.

    A few years later I was called in to the Plaid Cymru’s chief executive’s office (Karl Davies). I was informed that serious allegations had been made against me regarding dodgy land transactions. The accuser was never named (although I’m pretty sure I know who she was, a former girlfriend). A woman was put onto the case to gather evidence and have me expelled from the party. A few months later I was called to a meeting examine the evidence and make a decision on my continued membership in the party. A huge dossier had been complied including extracts from every public letter I had written, every argument with public polices, my odd appearance in tabloids like the Mirror as a ‘crazy Welsh nationalist’, my newsletters, and so on. I created controversy, yes, but there was not a shred of evidence that I had done anything illegal or untoward. Why? Because I hadn’t done anything illegal or untoward. Period.

    Yes, I had created ‘enemies’ both inside and outside the party. Politics is a dirty business. But with no evidence and they were all one by one dismissed. Despite that fact, a weaker man might have run away from his accusers. A weaker man might have gone to extremes to avoid that scenario.

    I am not claiming that Carl Sargeant was innocent or guilty. But the very basis of justice must lie with the presumed innocence of the accused until PROVEN guilty. Anything less is hysteria.

    “Ifan writes, “Unfortunately, there’s no good way of dealing with accusations of this nature. It’s a nasty, horrible business.” The tone of this article seems to imply that Carl Sargeant’s accuser was a woman and it had something to do with sexuality and behaviour, and, he was probably guilty of something. Totally unfounded innuendo. The term ‘witch hunt’ is appropriate.

    • So how do you envisage the process working differently but that in a way which would still have dealt with someone how HAD committed wrongdoing in an identical scenario?

  10. By letting the accused know what the details of the accusation were. Iinvestigating the accusation in a reasonable time and not letting it drag out because of the inflexible , bureaucracy of the organisation as opposed to time needed for a thorough investigation of the facts themselves

    • OK. I agree the timescale should be reasonable. But the timescale between the allegations coming to light and this death was three days. Is that a reasonable or unreasonable time in which to complete and investigation?

      • It’s unreasonable if the person that sacked you is speaking to the BBC and the press about your case, as Carwyn Jones clearly was doing. He should have been making “No comment – active investigation” type statements. He wasn’t.

        • And do you believe people would have intepreted that statement as anything other than then way the actual one was? Given the timing?

          • That’s irrelevant. Once Sargeant had been suspended and an investigation kicked off, it should be obvious to an idiot that it’s entirely inappropriate to comment to the media on aspects of it. But obviously not to Carwyn. Contrast this to what’s happened to Prescott’s boy who has been suspended. When questioned by the media the Labour Party response was predictably, “we do not comment on individual cases”.

  11. I was a bit surprised to see this article to be honest. It seemed a bit hasty. He has yet to be buried, his family have yet to come to terms with the grief and we know next to nothing about the circumstances, the claims or the facts. I understand the points being raised, but would rather have seen a bit of time elapsed before reading this one to be honest. I didn’t know him, but found the news yesterday quite shocking.

  12. I’m surprised anyone would defend Leia’s safeguarding policy that he’d be informed “at the appropriate time subject to concerns about confidentiality”, in that it gives wide power so easily misused by an employer/investigating panel. The rights of the accused include to be given an outline of the accusation(s) at the outset. “Inappropriate sexual contact” is quite inadequate. Nor is it good/normal practice to proceed to suspension without hearing the accused response, for most such offences would be handled by discussion, maybe even a written warning. For Carwyn Jones to say he had no alternative is both a prejudicial comment (unwarranted by the low level of the accusation) and false as a serious offence would have to be referred to the police if not the Independent Commissioner for Standards who “investigates complaints against Assembly Members relating to breaches of the Code of Conduct or Standing Orders and provides advice and assistance on matters of principle relating to their conduct”.

    • It’s totally standard in child/POVA policies regarding sexual issues or violence. This are probably different in other organisations but because that’s what I work within I can see why it would be totally standard to keep the allegations confidential until the suspension was complete and the investigation underway. There are many ways in which detail of a complaint could identify the person who made it. You need to protect that person as well as the accused while the complaint goes forward. The easiest why to do that is to remove on one, or the other, or both from the environment. Which option would you suggest as fairest?

      • You also presume Leia that these complaints have been made about recent events. They could have dated from years ago. So we don’t know who made the accusations. What these allegations are not to mention their seriousness. When these ‘events’ took place. Mind you, I think that if a male would have ‘oggled’ (to use your words) at an unappreciative female 20 years ago I get the impression you think his suspension would be justified. Apologies if I’m being unfair. I just get the feeling you think everything is so black an white.

        • “Unappreciative” is an interesting choice of words. Is there any particular occasion some reason a woman SHOULD “appreciate” being oggled by a colleague she’s got no sexual interest in, in her place of work?

          Regardless if the woman in question had claimed so-an-so have harassed then yes regardless of what turned out to be the truth the person accused should be suspended in the meantime.

          If it turns out to be a minor, singular insensitivity offence then the suspension would be lifted, possibly training or some other measure taken, perhaps as little as an apology and on we would go.

          If it turned out that the accusation was maliciously false then the other party would in turn be suspended while THAT complaint was investigated.

          In neither case is the suspension the punishment. It’s what happens while the outcome is determined.

          Being bailed while you wait for a trial is not the punishment – but we don’t suggest sracpping it jsut because some people are found not guilty.

          It you could tell instantly from the accusation by some stroke of telepathy whether it was true or then you wouldn’t need the suspension at all, you’d go straight to disiplinary or dismissing the complaint wouldn’t you.

          It’s unpleasant for those wrongly accused but it’s totally normal and I can’t personally this of any better solution. Can you?

  13. So…Labour Rulebook – full rules for disciplinary measures on Page 77: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6GtYu9coM3zeVZYTkRNVDlfaTg/view (I couldn’t find a different one for Welsh labour – is there one?)

    But basically the TL:DR version…

    1) May suspend during investigation. Elswhere the rules state Suspended members may not hold office.
    2) While member suspended assorted meetings convening to decide if which bit of Labour rules broke and whether disciplinary measures will be brought
    3) Detail of alleged rule breaking sent to accused
    4) Hearing

    Which bit of this do people think didn’t happen? How far through it SHOULD they have managed to get through that process in the three day window for how things turned out?

  14. Carl Sergeant’s tragic death is a damning indictment on this kind of “Instant Response” culture which has consumed society of late.

    There does not seem to be any time for due consideration, reflection or just simple patience in our crazy media-led world, where people have to have opinions on everything and express those opinions almost instantaneously.

    Carwyn Jones as First Minister should have been strong enough and wise enough to resist this when these allegations were made against Carl Sergeant. No problem at all in suspending him whilst the allegations against were investigated.

    But to essentially act as judge and executioner by announcing a new Cabinet on the very same day as the suspension- minus Carl Sergeant- was an absolutely shameful act on Jones’s part.

    The two processes should have been decoupled entirely. The Cabinet reshuffle could have waited a week or so whilst an internal investigation was instigated.

    And at the very least, Carl Sergeant should have been informed what the accusations against him actually were at the time of the suspension.

    Rather than being left in a state of limbo over the weekend, having to instruct his solicitor to write to the Labour Party to ask for details of the said accusations.

    Unfortunately, the suspicion remains that a First Minister so in thrall to the media’s agenda, sought to use this Cabinet re-launch to divert public attention away from Carl Sergeant’s suspension.

    Let’s just pray that some good can come of this tragedy and a new more robust and transparent protocol to deal with accusations of this sort can be put in place.

    Sexual politics is fast becoming a nightmare in our public life. Some clear thinking is urgently needed to defuse this particular time bomb.

    • Labour rules say a suspended minister can’t hold an office so he didn’t really have a choice. Argue the rules are wrong by all means, but the do appear to have been followed.

  15. Leia
    ‘But the timescale between the allegations coming to light and this death was three days. Is that a reasonable or unreasonable time in which to complete and investigation’
    I replied to a general question about how allegations could be dealt with not the species of this case. Of course 2-3 days is inappropriate.
    The person I know was left for months and in this specific case we don’t know how long it would take for the investigation if things hadn’t taken this turn.
    My first point was giving the accused some idea of what the accusation is
    I think 2-3 days is too long for that

  16. A man is dead. Are the witch-hunters happy now?

    Carl Sargeant: a working-class politician destroyed by middle-class hysteria.

    e still do not know for certain why Carl Sargeant, the Welsh Labour politician, took his life this week. Suicide is a deeply complex affair, and often springs from a deep-seated, hard-to-understand turmoil. But we do know this: Sargeant had been plunged into despair by accusations made against him as part of the increasingly febrile, nasty ‘Pestminster’ witch-hunt. And we know that the accusations did not merit police involvement – that is, they involved … read more here: http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/a-man-is-dead.-are-the-witch-hunters-happy-now-carl-sargeant/20517

  17. “Carl Sargeant: a working-class politician destroyed by middle-class hysteria.”

    I agree with that statement too.

  18. Can you all just shut up and stop it NOW,

  19. It’s worth remembering that the vast majority of suicides are NOT the direct result of one incident, however traumatic that incident may be. There are, more often than not, complex and varied reasons behind the total despair that leads to someone believing they have no other option but to kill themselves.

  20. Even Alun Michael speaks up on BBC Today. He avoided direct questions by saying we can’t know, but if the alleged offences were serious enough for sacking, the case should have been referred to Assembly officials. Saying Sargeant was the best Minister he’s known (incl advancing policy re. safeguarding children and women), he surely went as far as a Police Commissioner can in blaming Carwyn for a wrong call. Despite his intervention and those of Leighton Andrews, Mark Tani etc, expect the Labour AMs to close ranks around Carwyn at today’s internal meeting. Senedd was closed for the week rather than one day, precisely because Carwyn needed to avoid questioning till he’d rallied his troops.

  21. Leia
    Because you asked the question about what should happen in general.
    I initially mentioned it because you compared it to what would happen in the normal work place as if that was straight forward process, when in fact it can cause enormous distress to innocent parties

    • The process is straightforward yes. That’s not the same as the emotions being straightforward or easy to deal with. But the process is clear and simple. “Suspend while it’s investigated”.

      What would you do differently?

  22. As I said
    Tell people what they are accused of immediately
    And in general( not this case) make sure the speed of the investigation is related to the needs of the accuser and accused not the inflexible process of the organisation

  23. Jonathan Edwards

    Here is what should be different.
    1. Defuse the overheated attitude to sexual harassment. Someone has now died because of the overheating and loss of due process.
    2. Accept that most allegations are trivial even if proved.
    3. Accept that suspension while investigating should be the exception. The damage done to say a teacher or doctor by suspension is way out of proportion to most allegations. I mean depression, injustice and even permanent loss of employment caused simply by the time investigations take, whether done by HR departments who are not expert, or by the police. .
    4. Accept that 1% of rape allegations getting proved is not surprising. Most incidents are “he said/she said” and lack corroboration by independent evidence. I know this is no longer legally required but – hey – in the real world it certainly is and should be.
    5. OK we’ve got criminal prosecutions arising from historical allegations well understood now. Something not criminal or prosecuted when done can become so 30 years later. OK, so we’ve cleared the air. Now we need a Limitation period for prosecutions as in many US jurisdictions. Now there is no excuse for bringing up allegations 20-30 years later. Not defending Rolf Harries or Saville, but the whole process can look very unattractive and unproductive all round..
    6. Make the legal test for harassment objective. Not subjective, as so often now. Need to scrutinise for malicious complaints the object of which is to (say) evict a man from his home, deprive him of contact with his children, or to get revenge for some slight or get some other advantage eg a political one. Not making this up, i have seen it all. .
    If we don’t do kind of thing, our society will descend further into a sex war. Relations between the sexes/genders are inherently difficult enough without us facilitating conflict. It has all become so damaging and unnecessary and out of proportion.
    Go on, admit it.
    OK, ignore me.
    But the wheel is turning anyway as it always does. And needs to.

    • 2) When I hear people say things like that, my mental image is of someone telling Rosa Parks to stop fussing about bus seats and deal with the real problem… You cannot fix the big problems without addressing the small ones.

      6) How? A list of where you may touch someone without their consent? A list of how often?

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