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Every Plaid Cymru councillor in Carmarthenshire said the party was wrong to block MP who assaulted his wife from standing again

18 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP, Jonathan Edwards

Martin Shipton

All 38 Plaid Cymru councillors in Carmarthenshire signed a letter accusing the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) of unjustly persecuting an MP who accepted a police caution for assaulting his wife, we can reveal.

The councillors – 27 men and 11 women – suggested that the NEC’s action in overruling the decision of a party disciplinary panel to readmit Carmarthen East & Dinefwr MP Jonathan Edwards to Plaid may have been unlawful.

Among those who signed the letter was Cllr Ann Davies, who will be Plaid’s candidate in the new constituency of Caerfyrddin / Carmarthen at the general election expected later this year.

Mr Edwards was suspended by Plaid in May 2020 after an incident at his family home that led to his wife, Emma Edwards, calling the police and him subsequently accepting a caution for assault.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided the right course of action was that he should be issued with a caution rather than charged with an offence because it was a one-off incident and in legal terms the assault was at the low end of seriousness,

Suspended

Plaid’s disciplinary panel decided that Mr Edwards should be suspended from the party for 12 months and take a domestic violence awareness course, after which he would be eligible for readmission.

But in 2022, when he applied for readmission, the decision to let him back in was overruled by the NEC. Mr Edwards then decided to withdraw his application to be reinstated and has since sat in the House of Commons as an Independent MP.

Nation.Cymru has now been given a copy of the letter signed by the 38 councillors and sent to the NEC.

It has not previously been put into the public domain.

The letter states: “We write as the 38-strong group of Plaid Cymru councillors on Carmarthenshire County Council to express our profound concern about the NEC’s recent actions relating to Jonathan Edwards MP. As the general circumstances are well known to us all, our comments are brief and focused. We have three grounds for concern.

1. Jonathan Edwards had already been subject to legal reprimand by accepting a police caution following a domestic incident. Although he was not charged with any offence, Jonathan Edwards showed genuine remorse for his unacceptable behaviour. Having been suspended as a member of Plaid Cymru following the party’s disciplinary procedure, that same panel recently renewed his membership. We maintain that further disciplinary action would be disproportionate and amount to unjust persecution of Jonathan Edwards both professionally and personally.

2. It appears to us that the NEC, at its meeting on Saturday July 16 [2020], exceeded its authority by interfering in a disciplinary matter. If the NEC came to its conclusion a) based on evidence discussed by the disciplinary panel, then it was a constitutional, and possibly legal, breach of procedure; or if b) it was not fully aware of those facts, its action was not evidence based and therefore not legitimate. Either way, we question the NEC’s action and request a full explanation.

“We commend [former Assembly Member] Alun Ffred Jones’ honourable action in stepping down as Chair [of Plaid Cymru] following the NEC’s decision.

3. Our greatest concern is about the damage this is causing Plaid Cymru, especially in Carmarthenshire which made Plaid a credible political party by electing Gwynfor Evans in 1966, and where we’ve worked hard to build the party to the position we hold today at county council level. We always put Plaid Cymru and Wales first and trust that others do likewise.”

Statement

After the letter was sent, Emma Edwards issued a statement withdrawing a comment she had made at the time of her then husband’s caution in which she said she had forgiven him for what had happened, and that as far as she was concerned the matter was closed.

She now said that a press officer working for Mr Edwards had written the earlier statement for her, and expressed her outrage at his readmission to the party. She said it sent a message that survivors of domestic abuse didn’t matter.

We asked Cllr Davies whether she still believed that the NEC had unjustly persecuted Mr Edwards and had potentially broken the law.

We also asked her whether she still believed that the actions of Plaid’s NEC towards Jonathan Edwards had caused damage to the party in Carmarthenshire, with the implication that the NEC members were not putting Wales first.

Cllr Davies said: “For me, everything changed after Emma’s statement. Most of us who had supported Jonathan decided at that point that we could no longer do so.

“After Jonathan announced that he wouldn’t be rejoining Plaid Cymru and the process began to choose a candidate for the new seat, I decided to put my name forward. I was very pleased to be selected. I spoke with Jonathan to avoid any awkwardness between us because we would still have to work together, with him as the MP and me as a councillor. We agreed that we wouldn’t criticise each other in public and I have kept to that.

“My life is full and it’s fabulous – I am a businesswoman, running a children’s nursery with my daughter, we have a family farm and I’m a councillor and cabinet member. Going round the constituency I have been thrilled at the reception I have been getting from people. I was very pleased with the recent poll that saw Plaid Cymru winning the seat, but I know there’s a lot of work to do before the general election.”

Mr Edwards, who did not wish to comment, is still undecided about whether to stand in the new seat as an Independent candidate.


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Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago

Cllr Davies’ response is quite reasonable. I felt exactly the same way. Mrs Edwards is the victim not Mr Edwards. Once she expressed her view I had no doubt that the party could no longer support his re-admission. And it hasn’t. No good Mr Shipton making mischief by publishing the contents of a letter written before the full picture emerged. As I said, Ann Davies’ later response is entirely reasonable and correct.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

Hear Hear 👏

Tom
Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Annibendod

I disagree that it is a reasonable response. The NEC decision pre-dates the Emma Edwards statement. In this letter Ann Davies is clearly supporting a candidate who has a caution for domestic violence. The statement does not nullify her position that the NEC “persecuted” Jonathan Edwards, acted unlawfully and did not put the interest of Wales first. She should also have made the slight effort to fully inform herself of the position before signing such an important letter. I am pleased that she has a “full and fabulous” life but that is frankly irrelevant and offensive to the serious questions… Read more »

Annibendod
Annibendod
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

The benefit of hindsight. At the time we were not privvy to the full facts. Regardless, this is not new information. This was largely all reported at the time. That a letter was drafted is hardly a surprise given what was being publicly reported at the time. It merely confirms what we already knew. Jonathan was being supported until Emma spoke out. Once members became fully aware of her views they withdrew their support and quite rightly too.

Llyn
Llyn
1 month ago

All these 38 Plaid Cymru councillors are displaying an incredible political naiveté. If Jonathan Edwards was to run Plaid would be handing the press and their political opposition an attack line that would undermine their whole campaign.

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

Abuse is abuse. How many women have died and terribly injured and live in fear, the perps (mostly men) face next to no consequences that started with a slap. What they are enabling is a little slap is Ok as long as you say sorry after.

You don’t have someone sitting as a law maker that thinks saying sorry is OK.

Plaid were too slow here and it concerns me.

Steffan Gwent
Steffan Gwent
1 month ago

The writing is on the wall so to speak for Jonathan Edwards as an MP.

Will Jones
Will Jones
1 month ago

Plaid seems pretty disfunctional
as a party generally. Botched House of Lords nominations. Botched Jonathan Edwards. Supporting Labour against farmers. Botched sacking of Adam Price as leader. Omnishambles at Plaid HQ etc. etc.

Last edited 1 month ago by Will Jones
hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Jones

… which is why Drakeford and Labour are happy to use them as little helpers.

Will Jones
Will Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Agree.Labour’s little helpers!

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
1 month ago

Chances are this comment will not be accepted by the censor………

Many complaints against a partner have been dropped thus cancelling any court action. I hope this is not one. The law was broken and in this case there was a victim..a woman.

Last year 88 recommendations were made due to various forms of abuse within Plaid Cymru. Has Plaid adopted them yet ??

Helen
Helen
1 month ago

The comment by Cllr Davies on the emphasis given to the ‘forgiveness’ is staggering. Anyone with the tiniest knowledge of the domestic violence will know that many victims ‘forgive’ their attackers time and time again.

The comment on her fabulous life is incredibly insensitive. That is not the case for thousands of women in Carmarthenshire and Wales. The fact that this has been signed off by a Plaid Cymru press officer beggars belief.

hdavies15
hdavies15
1 month ago
Reply to  Helen

Come on, you must be able to see what’s going on here. Plaid “Central”‘s posture is built on a mix of posturing and being seen to be on the right side of most of the “hot” issues of our time. Plaid out west is still trying its best to play to a totally different audience, an electorate whose morality is orientated differently. Go to, say, Carmarthen and they will be more critical of a politician who shoves his hand down another man’s trousers or craves a young man dressed in a woman’s gear. Funny old business this non conformism until… Read more »

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
1 month ago

I was correct. Article cancelled.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Not to downplay or lessen any form of abuse, former Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards paid the price for his unacceptable behaviour. Thankfully his fast thinking wife had the sense to call the police when she did rather than stay silent as most who suffer domestic abuse do. And I genuinely think it was the jolt to the system he desperately needed as it could have turned far uglier when the red mist fogs up your judgement. Because if we cannot be rehabilitated or forgiven for our sins, there is simply no hope for any of us to change our… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
Neil Davies
Neil Davies
1 month ago

Suppose for a moment Mrs Edwards was in close contact with Mr Edwards’ opponents within Plaid Cymru. Suppose the comments attributed to her were written for her. Her intervention was expertly timed after Mr Edwards had out monouvered the party’s NEC. Suppose that Mr Edwards throughout this sorry saga has prioritised the welfare of his children over his own professional career. Suppose there is a conspiracy against Mr Edwards by some in Plaid, who after all corrupted their own rules and procedures. Would that not then make the Plaid candidate in Carmarthen complicit based on her response to Mr Shipton.… Read more »

Will Jones
Will Jones
1 month ago

Am so glad to hear that the Plaid candidate has “a fabulous life”.lol. What is she going to do to ensure that most of her constituents (apart from farmers) can have “a fabulous life” too?

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