THE stench of corruption has hung over the Welsh Labour Party ever since the sudden death of cabinet minister Carl Sargeant last November.
The Labour politician, 49, is suspected of hanging himself at home four days after being sacked as Communities Secretary and suspended from his party following three allegations of sexual harassment.
Carl Sargeant died four days after stepping down from his post in the Welsh Government[/caption]
The Welsh cabinet minister resigned from his post following unspecified allegations of sexual harassment[/caption]
He was never told who made these accusations, or what they were, and he always strenuously denied acting improperly.
But The Sun believes that Sargeant may have been the victim of a sinister Labour plot which used relatively minor accusations to thwart his leadership ambitions – with fatal consequences.
Sadly, all the signs are this very public humiliation brought about the tragedy that has devastated his wife, two children and many friends.
A full coroner’s inquest is expected later this year but this week Sargeant’s widow, Bernie, accused the Welsh political establishment of “covering up” the truth of why her husband died.
She is deeply upset that almost a year since her husband’s death, the inquiry into it, which is supposed to examine his treatment at the hands of Jones, has not even begun.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the appalling event, she said: “I had thought after Carl’s death that I, and my young family, would be treated with honesty and respect. Yet, we can’t help but feeling we are looking at a cover-up.
Carl’s Sargeant’s widow, Bernie, says the family believe they are currently facing a ‘cover up’[/caption]
“It’s been over nine months since Carl’s death and we’re no further forward in getting answers… I owe it to Carl to get the full picture.”
Now a Sun investigation has established that the allegations involve two “incredibly mild” incidents of inappropriate touching, and a more serious allegation which was “recycled” – having initially been dealt with a year and a half earlier.
On one occasion, he supposedly put his arm around an activist in a bar at a political event the summer before his death.
It was apparently months before this was reported to the Welsh Labour Party.
Another allegation seems to have involved him touching another woman’s knee.
We have been told that the third allegation against Mr Sargeant was “recycled”.
It was an old claim first made in 2016 by a Labour Party employee who apparently said Mr Sargeant once ‘twanged’ her bra strap.
No action was ever taken against him.
But this complaint was re-heated and resubmitted days before his death in 2017.
Bernie says she thought her family would be treated with honesty and respect following the death of her husband[/caption]
The reason this is important is because a Labour Party member must make a complaint to trigger a party investigation.
A Welsh Labour Party source, who does not want to be named, told The Sun: “This historic complaint was resurrected because – unlike the other two complaints – it was made by a Labour Party member.
“Someone, it’s not clear who, went back to the Labour Party member who made this complaint in 2016 and asked her to resubmit it as if it were new.”
The tragedy unfolded in Downing Street on Monday, October 30, 2017, when the so-called ‘Sexminster’ scandal was gaining momentum.
That day, Wales’ First Minister and its Labour Party leader Carwyn Jones visited Theresa May in Number 10.
He then told the media he had never received a “direct allegation” about sexual harassment involving a Welsh Assembly Member.
Yet strangely, over the next few days several insiders, including a BBC reporter, received text messages tipping them off that Sargeant was about to lose his job in a forthcoming reshuffle – meaning they knew his fate before he did.
On Friday November 3, Sargeant was told by Carwyn Jones vague details about the harassment allegations and abruptly dismissed.
The decision to fire him from government was made after one of Jones’s senior Welsh Assembly aides, Matt Greenough, who is paid from the public purse, had talked to his accusers.
It’s not known what, if any, official notes were taken of these conversations or where they took place.
All of this happened sometime between Monday afternoon and Friday morning.
The matter was then handed over to Labour, becoming a party issue.
7 DAYS TO TRAGEDY
2016: Labour employee claims Sargeant once “twanged” her bra strap. No action is taken.
Oct 30, 2017: First Minister Carwyn Jones tells media he had never received a “direct allegation” about sexual harassment involving a Welsh Assembly member.
Early Nov: Allegations of sexual harassment made against Sargeant. The 2016 “bra twang” allegation is said to have been resubmitted.
Nov 2: Presiding Officer Elin Jones orders a review into how complaints of sexual harassment are dealt with by the Assembly.
Nov 3: Sargeant sacked as Secretary for Communities and Children and suspended from the Labour Party pending an inquiry.
Nov 6: Carwyn Jones tells media he’d become “aware of a number of incidents at the beginning of last week” involving Sargeant.
Nov 7: Sargeant found dead at his home in Flintshire.
Nov 10: First Minister orders an inquiry into how he handled Sargeant’s sacking.
Nov 13: Inquest opens and a provisional cause of death is given as hanging.
Nov 23: First Minister refers himself to independent inquiry to examine whether he breached the ministerial code over a 2014 claim there had been no complaints about bullying in his government.
This was a cruel blow for the well-liked Sargeant, who rose from a job at a chemical plant to first representing his beloved Labour Party in the Cardiff parliament in 2003.
A friend told us: “Carl was an authentic working class politician, which is very rare in politics these days. He was very popular among the grass roots of the Labour Party.”
On Monday November 6, Carwyn Jones told the BBC he had become “aware of a number of incidents at the beginning of last week” involving Sargeant.
He said: “I asked my office to speak to those women involved who had provided detail of those incidents. As a result of those conversations I felt I had no choice but to refer the matter to the party.”
Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones gave Sargeant vague details about the sexual harassment allegations[/caption]
Note that Jones did not use the term “alleged incidents”, ADD “seemingly” suggesting Sargeant’s guilt had already been established when it certainly had not.
Sargeant’s lawyers immediately wrote to the Labour Party describing Jones’s comments as “clearly prejudicing what is allegedly an independent inquiry” by the Labour disputes office.
The letter made clear his “anxiety”.
This was pertinent given he was reportedly on anti-depressants.
And it raised the “very real possibility that the evidence of the witnesses is being manipulated.”
The next morning, November 7, Sargeant was found dead at home on the Flintshire council estate where he grew up.
But why would anyone have it in for Sargeant?
The answer: dirty politics.
Sargeant – the popular voice of the people in Welsh Labour – was considered a strong contender to be the next leader.
This apparently worried supporters of the altogether more middle class would-be candidate, Vaughan Gething.
Leighton Andrews, a former minister in Welsh Labour, has spoken of a “toxic culture” in the party and accused Jones of presiding over “minor bullying, mind games, power games, favouritism, inconsistency of treatment to different ministers, deliberate personal undermining on occasion”.
“Carl was unquestionably the target of some of this behaviour,” Andrews wrote recently.
“The relentless drip-drip of disinformation — and worse — had a strain on his and others’ mental health. The First Minister was made aware of this by several ministers, including myself. Nothing was done.”
Sargeant was apparently considered the biggest threat to Gething.
A friend of Sargeant said: “It does look like this was all orchestrated because a group of people wanted Carl out of government. They took advantage of the whole Sexminster frenzy in Westminster and said ‘Right, what have we got on Carl, how can we sack him? We need a reason to sack him.’ So they concocted it.”
Carl Sargeant was considered a strong contender to be the next Welsh Labour leader[/caption]
All this might go some way to explaining the latest twist in this saga.
This week Bernie Sargeant and her son Jack, who successfully stood for election in his father’s Assembly seat of Alyn and Deeside in February, announced they are seeking a judicial review into how the independent inquiry into the death will be run.
The inquiry, led by Paul Bowen QC, was announced by Carwyn Jones within days of Sargeant’s death.
Its remit is to investigate how Sargeant was treated by the First Minister.
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Not only has it still not begun, triggering the cover-up claims, The Sargeant family believe they will not be allowed to attend the inquiry and their legal team will not get the chance to cross-examine witnesses, including Carwyn Jones.
One friend commented: “First there was a stitch-up, now we’re seeing an attempted cover-up.”
The Labour Party refused to comment.
Carwyn Jones refused to comment.
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