McEvoy launches second attempt to force publication of Sargeant inquiry report

Neil McEvoy

Independent Assembly Member, Neil McEvoy has launched a fresh attempt at forcing the Welsh Government to publish a report into the sacking of Carl Sargeant he claims they’re trying to keep buried.

Carl Sargeant was a Minister in the Labour Welsh Government who took his own life in 2017 after allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

The First Minister at the time, Carwyn Jones, had dismissed him from government and suspended him from the Labour party.

An inquiry was completed over a year ago but the Welsh Government has so far refused to allow other Assembly Members and the public to see it.

McEvoy has now sent a new No Named Day Motion to the Assembly’s Business Committee calling for Section 37 of the Government of Wales Act to be used to force publication.

The Business Committee is made up of a member from each the Assembly’s political groups and decides what votes go ahead.

After an initial discussion, the Business Committee has agreed to return to the issue, with a view to taking the motion forward, after Easter.

“It’s time the Welsh Government came clean and released the inquiry into the handling of Carl Sargeant’s sacking,” the AM for South Wales Central said.

“The National Assembly under the last First Minister became a place of secrecy and scandal. Things have gotten so bad that we’ve now got the High Court in London ruling that Wales’ former First Minister behaved unlawfully.

“It’s really essential that the new First Minister, Mark Drakeford, commits to full transparency and openness.

“But if he won’t release the report, then the National Assembly can take matters into its own hands by voting for my motion to force the Government to release the hidden inquiry.”

‘Unlawful’

In 2018 Neil McEvoy AM first attempted to force publication of the report, submitting a motion calling for the National Assembly to use a little known and never before used power in the Government of Wales Act 2006.

Section 37 of the Act allows the National Assembly to force publication of any document held by a person, including the hidden inquiry.

The Conservative Group in the National Assembly also submitted an identical motion through the Assembly, which led to the Labour Welsh Government threatening legal action to try to stop the vote.

The vote still went ahead but the motion was lost after Labour and Liberal Democrat AM voted against it.

But a year after the vote was lost, the High Court in London ruled that the former First Minister, Carwyn Jones, had acted unlawfully in the way he made arrangements for the inquiry into Carl Sargeant’s death.

As a result of the ruling, the Labour AM Alun Davies said that it was “probably now time” to published a report on a separate inquiry which found no “unauthorised” leaking of information on Mr Sargeant’s sacking.

McEvoy said that Alun Davies’ statement meant there may now be a majority of Assembly Members who would vote for the inquiry to be published.

Lobbying

Some of the controversy surrounding the publication of the report centres on whether a corporate lobbying firm had prior knowledge of Mr Sargeant’s sacking before he was told himself.

The former leader of the Conservatives in Wales, Andrew RT Davies, claimed under privilege that the leak inquiry heard evidence that the lobbying firm Deryn knew about the sacking and told journalists, before the sacking had actually taken place.

McEvoy said that publication of the secret report would reveal whether that was the case.

Mr McEvoy said “the Welsh Government needs to come out of the shadows. We’re meant to be building a modern and open democracy in Wales.

“People are losing trust in politics and it’s little wonder when Labour operates like this.”


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