A Welsh Assembly Member raised concerns about then Vale of Glamorgan Candidate Ross England months before it was revealed that he was accused of deliberately sabotaging a rape trial, a leaked email has revealed.
Welsh Conservative Group Chief Whip Darren Millar emailed the Chairman of the Welsh Conservatives, Byron Davies, on 14 June 2019 to say he had “grave concerns” concerns about the candidate’s online comments.
His email said he was writing to “request that Ross’ status as an approved Assembly candidate be reviewed as soon as possible”.
Ross England, who was accused by a crown court judge in 2018 of deliberately sabotaging a rape trial, was today deselected by his party.
The publishing of the judge’s comments at the end of October last year eventually led to the resignation of Alun Cairns as Welsh Secretary.
Darren Millar’s “grave concerns” related to comments made by Ross England on social media which “put him at significant odds with group policy”.
There is no suggestion however that he or Byron Davies were aware of Ross England’s involvement in the collapsed rape trial in April 2018.
Alun Cairns was re-elected as the MP for Vale of Glamorgan at the general election and was later cleared of breaking the ministerial code.
The Welsh Conservatives told Nation.Cymru: “We will not be making a comment at this time.”
In the email to Byron Davies, Darren Millar said Ross England’s social media posts were “being used by our political opponents to portray us as a divided party which does not support or believe in devolution”.
Examples of Ross England’s posts which Darren Millar took issue with included:
- Support for the abolition of the National Assembly and the posts of Assembly Members
- Undermining support for bilingualism by supporting a change to the legal name of the National Assembly which is monolingual
- Opposing the longstanding position of the Welsh Assembly group with regards to Air Passenger Duty.
“I have attached a copy of a recent tweet which illustrates his position on the Assembly,” the email said.
“Such differences in policy are totally unacceptable for someone who is seeking election as a member of the Welsh Conservative Group in the National Assembly and will significantly undermine group discipline should they be elected.
“Given the above, I regret that I am writing to request that Ross’ status as an approved Assembly candidate be reviewed as soon as possible. I do not make this request lightly; I make it in the interests of the Conservative Party.
“Finally, I am pleased to report that other approved candidates have been very engaged in supporting the Welsh Conservative Group in the Assembly and we look forward to fully supporting their election campaigns.”
The source of the leaked email, who identified himself as a source within the Welsh Conservatives, said:
“Darren Millar AM, on behalf of the Welsh Conservative Group, called on Byron Davies to deselect Ross England over six months ago.
“He expressed grave concerns about Mr England’s suitability as a candidate and highlighted issues which demonstrated that Mr England’s values were not compatible with modern Wales and those of the Welsh Conservative Group.
“Byron Davies failed to remove Mr England, which has since had terrible consequences for the reputation of the Welsh Conservatives.
“It beggars belief that it took so long for a decision to be made, and that the decision hastily followed the announcement of Mr England’s intention to resign in any case.”