News in brief: Disgraced Delyn MP could face a new sexual misconduct probe
Delyn MP Rob Roberts could face a further investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct after a former parliamentary intern said she would make an independent complaint about Mr Roberts if he does not resign.
Mr Roberts had the Conservative whip removed and was suspended for six weeks after Westminster’s Independent Expert Panel confirmed last week he had breached Parliament’s sexual misconduct policy after investigating a complaint made by the MP’s male former senior parliamentary assistant.
The 41-year-old will not face a recall petition, which could trigger a by-election if enough constituents backed one and can return to the House of Commons at the end of his suspension. He announced last week that he has no intention of resigning following the panel’s verdict.
A female former parliamentary intern, who Mr Roberts propositioned in a series of text messages last year, says she will make a complaint to the ICGS if he refuses to step down.
“It honestly disgusts a lot of us that he has the audacity to remain in his position,” she said.
“It also makes us all feel unsafe that in six weeks he can come back and still be on the parliamentary estate.
“I don’t work in Parliament anymore, but I still work in politics and it is difficult for me to do my job sometimes, because he still pops up on my radar.”
At the weekend, Mail on Sunday deputy political editor and columnist Anna Mikhailova, suggested Mr Roberts could face a motion of expulsion, which would see him forced out of parliament and trigger a by-election.
Conwy has highest Covid case rate in Wales as Delta variant cluster grows
Today’s update from Public Health Wales confirms no further deaths due to Covid-19 and 83 new positive tests for the virus.
Conwy recorded 10 new cases in the 48 hours up to 9am yesterday and currently has the highest weekly case rate in Wales at 18.8 per 100,000 people and the highest positive test proportion at 1.7% per 100,000 tests.
Earlier today health officials confirmed 35 cases of the Delta variant had been identified in Conwy County after an outbreak was declared on Friday.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan described the cluster of cases as “very serious” and said it could set back plans to further ease Covid restrictions across Wales.
The Delta variant is now the dominant Covid mutation in the UK after a surge in cases across England and Scotland and early research suggests it is up to 50% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant, which originated in Kent last summer.
However, overall the national case rate has fallen from 8.0 to 7.7 since yesterday’s report and the positive test rate is unchanged at 0.9%.
Meanwhile, the latest figure from the Office for National Statistics confirmed there were six deaths involving Covid in Wales over the week ending 21 May.
The number of deaths registered in Wales from all causes was 605, 35 deaths fewer than the previous week and 4.7% below the five-year average (30 deaths).
Of all deaths registered in Wales over the seven days of the latest study, 1.2% mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate.
Since the start of the pandemic in March last year, the ONS has recorded 45,431 deaths from all causes. Of these, 7,885 deaths (17.4%) mentioned Covid, 5,499 deaths above the five-year average.
Deaths counted by the ONS are when Covid-19 is mentioned by doctors on the death certificate and which occur in all settings – including hospitals, care homes, hospices and people’s homes.
The daily figures released by Public Health Wales only include the deaths of a hospital patients or care home resident where Covid-19 has been confirmed with a positive laboratory test and the clinician suspects this was a causative factor in the death.
According to PHW’s calculations there have been 5,569 suspected Covid deaths since March 2020.
New funding extends Test, Trace, Protect programme to March 2022
The Welsh Government has confirmed a further £32m will be invested in the Test, Trace, Protect service to extend the Covid contact tracing programme to March 2022.
Since TTP was launched in Wales a year ago, contact tracers have reached 99.7% of the positive cases that were eligible for follow up and successfully contacted almost 95% of the close contacts that were eligible for follow up.
Prior to last year’s “firebreak” lockdown as Covid cases started to rise at the end of the summer, research suggest TTP reduced the R number in Wales from approximately 1.7 to 1.3.
“Test, Trace, Protect has been extremely effective at supporting people who have tested positive and their contacts to isolate and providing advice, guidance and support. It is critical to stopping the virus spreading in our communities,” Health and Social Services Minister Eluned Morgan said.
“It’s a year since we set up Test, Trace, Protect from scratch – at what the Auditor General for Wales described as an extraordinary scale and at pace.
“A great deal of hard work across NHS Wales, local authorities, the voluntary sector and partner organisations has created a highly effective programme to help us keep Wales safe. Everyone involved can be extremely proud of their efforts.
“I want to thank everyone involved, including Public Health Wales and Digital Health Care Wales. In particular I want to thank the contact tracers and those providing Protect services who have provided much-needed support to people at an extremely difficult time in their lives,” she added.
“They have done much more than their title suggests – they have identified vulnerable people and got them extra support, whether that be someone to chat to, a food parcel, or linking in with vital mental health services.
“As we seek to stop the spread of new variants of concern, experienced contact tracers are key to doing this effectively and we are continuing to invest in this work.”