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The police are investigating

Betsan Powys | 16:06 UK time, Thursday, 19 May 2011

South Wales Police have launched an investigation into Aled Roberts and John Dixon's election:

"Following a complaint received by South Wales Police and North Wales Police on Thursday 19th May relating to electoral fraud, South Wales Police will be leading an investigation by both forces following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.

"The investigation is in the early stages with enquiries ongoing."

As a result, the Clerk of the Assembly has halted her own inquiries pending the outcome of that police investigation.

The 'p' word that had seemed crucial to the future of the two Liberal Democrats was 'proper.' There was still a strong view that in the end, this would remain a 'political' decision. Now, there's another 'p' word involved - police - and the fact that they're pressing ahead with an investigation after consulting with the CPS has made an already serious situation for the Liberal Democrats considerably worse.

UPDATE 16.45

Those of you who are not members of the 'twitterati' might be interested to know that the twitter tide is turning against Mr Roberts and Mr Dixon.

Tory leadership candidate Nick Ramsay is one who has just voiced his agreement with former AM Jonathan Morgan: "The law is the law. For the sake of the Assembly and its standing, they should step aside".

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    My first reaction was to say, 'what the hell', they got elected so let's just get on with it. However, it's a clear breach of the law and so we can't do that.

    There are 2 ways of going here, a quick acceptance that they are not legitimate and putting the next two on the list in or going to high court for a test case, which will give Labour a majority until it's setttled. I cannot see any argument for another regional vote so as much as I feel for the 2 individuals, I do not believe that have any choice but to step aside and look for another job. Not a great way to start a new Assembly term.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would welcome anyone elses view on this. When we put our second cross on the ballot papers for the Assembly elections are we voting for a who or a what?

    In my case I voted Green and I had a clear knowledge of WHAT I was voting for but only a hazy view of WHO I was voting for. It is quite reasonable on this grounds to replace my "Green" AM with another "Green" AM. It would be hypocritical for me to pretend otherwise.

    But there may well be people who have a very clear knowledge of WHO they expect to benefit from their regional vote, particularly the first on a party list in a region where they could expect to see that person elected.

    Wouldn't it be reasonable for that voter to be a bit miffed if the PERSON that they voted for was removed and another person, who they wouldn't vote for in a million years, put in place instead?

  • Comment number 3.

    Plainly we must wait now for the police investigations to proceed and come to a conclusion,however the "new type of politics" as forseen by Ron Daviessems stillborn. There are surely sins of omission and commission,and also mus'nt our politics in general allow for genorosity of spirit.I could'nt imagine any sensible person giving a "monkey's" about this issue,but just want this totally flawed institution to do the best it can in trying to improve the lot of the average person in little wales.

  • Comment number 4.

    2

    I think in the great majority of cases it is 'what' rather than 'who'. I knew who I wanted on my list and their place (he got in) but you have to decide to look for something like that, which I suspect few do.

  • Comment number 5.

    @SEDWOT

    I agree you on this.
    The 2nd vote had an ambiguity about it. It raised 'Party politics' much higher than it should at the expense of individual candidates.
    Two nights ago in the Eli Jenkins rhetoric and Nick Ramsey chatted about this issue and Nick did not have strong views on it. How things move on! Or how the position on the chessboard around this issue has changed. Both of the condemned are of the board but play still carries on and changes.

  • Comment number 6.

    At 17:01 19th May 2011, SEDWOT wrote:

    “Wouldn't it be reasonable for that voter to be a bit miffed if the PERSON that they voted for was removed and another person, who they wouldn't vote for in a million years, put in place instead?”

    The informed voter might have had someone in mind when (s)he voted, nevertheless they actually voted for a Party. Witness the fact that there are no candidate’s names on the ballot paper. It should also be considered that the first on the list is only that, if something happened to them, during the term, the voter would then get the second choice anyway. A bit like this situation really.

  • Comment number 7.

    2. SEDWOT

    I suspect the answer is both WHO and WHAT.

    Although candidates' names were removed from the ballot papers this year, they were prominently displayed on posters in the polling stations. Local newspapers also provided readers with lists of regional candidates, and the No 1 candidates for many parties also made frequent appearances in the broadcast media.

    So, although the majority may well have cast their votes for a WHAT, a significant minority did so with knowledge of the WHO too. I certainly knew who the WHO to go along with my WHAT was.

    Technically speaking (I know Betsan likes that word!), at each of the 5 regional counts the Regional Returning Officer returns four WHOS according to their order on the winning parties' nomination forms. If, and only if, those returned as Assembly Members fail for whatever reason to become or remain Assembly Members, the Regional Returning Officer will be asked to return the next person on the list. This can happen anytime during the 4/5 year term.

    As we well know from the cases of Richards and Ashgar, once returned to Cardiff Bay the seat is no longer the property of the WHAT, but of the WHO. Ultimately, that's how it works in Britain - the law sees us as voting for people, even though the people's names may not appear!

    However, and this remains untested, had either Mr Richards or Mr Ashgar had the misfortune to have slipped under the Splott omnibus after switching parties, then their seats would have reverted to the WHAT which got them elected in the first place. Another WHO from their original parties would then have taken their places.

    Me, myself, I really wish we could all just vote for the WHOS we want. Yes, we know WHAT they represent, but ultimately they're our representatives sitting in those cosy Cardiff Bay seats.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Administrative error" say the Party High Ups. So much for their administrative skills eh? If they cannot get right the rules that the Assembly set up then they don't deserve to hold paid office.

    Let this be a lesson to these second division politicians. You don't play by the rules because you don't know them- then off the pitch!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    7. Emlyn. Yes of course, I had forgotten, Ashgar carried his regional electorate over to the Conservatives, presumably against their will. I did notice on some blogs that commentators were very aware of who would (should) get in on the regional vote. They touted those people as "strong candidates" or "An asset in the next term".

    There is certainly some ambiguity in the present position I think. I notice that there is a strong feeling towards just setting aside a minor oversight and carrying on but I'm not sure (still) whether the Assembly is empowered to do that.

    The offence was in improperly asserting that they were legally entitled to STAND for election. Can this impropriety be set aside by a body (the Assembly) which they could not legally be a member of?

  • Comment number 10.

    3. Tellingme.

    "I could'nt imagine any sensible person giving a "monkey's" about this issue,but just want this totally flawed institution to do the best it can in trying to improve the lot of the average person in little wales"

    I don't know whether we can say the Assembly is "totally flawed". We have certainly waited a long time and got a pretty poor return for their governance but it's not certain that the Assembly itself can be blamed.

    I am desperate for them to succeed, however, and I do feel a little like groaning at this latest hiccup. I am always naively optimistic and I believe that when Carwyn said that this term was about "Delivering" I agreed with his position 100%.

    So should we just sweep it all under the carpet and settle in??

  • Comment number 11.

    Please explain how the National Assembly can be blamed? Desperation there I think

  • Comment number 12.

    I find it incredible that a decent honest individual who made an innocent mistake can have their lives destroyed in a moment. To all those AMs who are now contemplating their decisions, let me state a few facts. The law was intended to prevent conflicts of interest, both members have now resigned, there has been no legislation discussed and no conflict has occurred. In my constituency I voted for Ken Skates and Liberal Democrats on the regional, knowing full well I was voting for Aled Roberts, not for the Liberal Democrats, but for Aled Roberts, I would never have voted for Eleanor Burnham, and I will consider mounting a challenge if she is elected as second choice. So instead of playing politics, let's concentrate on the right and proper thing to do. It is a badly written law, and Aleds tribunal was not listed in the 2006 legislation which was still posted on the Assembly web site yesterday, and on the Electoralcommssion site. The law should simply state that if elected the candidates must resign from any of these positions, it is ludicrous to have to resign before standing, would you resign from a job before being interviewed for a new appointment, of course not. Another badly written and poorly presented bit of legislature, one among many that need revisiting.

  • Comment number 13.

    10. I think its "flawed" because the body that set it up,i.e Parliament could'nt allow the system,ie. "First past the Post",based on simple constituency representation to be used in wales. I think this simple concept is understood by the vast majority of people,whereas this one in Caerdydd is only understood by about 1% of population,including little me.I must confess having worked in the public sector,with its over-arching political influences,and need in wales to severely control public access to "performance" in schools/NHS that we will never see the total reformation of public services,and devolving power to people rather than politicians who seem to represent party beliefs not people's needs. Whos e talking about "sweeping it under carpet"?. As was said in ZULU " Thats a flogging offence",when the building was on fire,and zulus everywhere,the taking of a drink did'nt seem that important,and I dont think this offence is either.If the "guilty" two are replaced,then replacements any better??. Plainly if its illegal for them to take up their seats then thats that.As a truly great man once said "Let he who is blameless throw the first stone"" .

  • Comment number 14.

    Now we vote for the WHAT on the ballot paper, and the WHO gets to be AM.

    But on the floor of the Senedd where do the loyalties of the WHO lay, and too whom are they answerable.

  • Comment number 15.

    At 20:11 19th May 2011, Dylanglyn wrote:

    “let me state a few facts. ...
    ....... It is a badly written law,
    ....... The law should simply state that if elected the candidates must resign from any of these positions,
    ..... it is ludicrous to have to resign before standing,”

    1. Nevertheless, it is the law.
    2. As much as you may wish so, it doesn’t state that.
    3. As I have pointed out elsewhere, Council candidates who work for the Authority in question do have to resign before standing.

    This is not about the two individuals; it is about the Assembly showing respect for the law. You can change a bad law, but unfortunately for these two it is very rarely done retrospectively. Nor should it be in most cases.

  • Comment number 16.

    12. SPOT ON.Did'nt one of the possible replacements actually employ her Husband as an employee out of public funds (Plenty of equal Opportunities there!!) and whilst it might have been in the "rules",it seems far worse than what those two "dabs" seem to have done,or not done.As somebody who did not vote for the creation of this body,or giving it more powers it is now there and must be made to work as best it can,however this current "farago" is bringing it into ridicle, and unfortunately will confirm the outside view of wales,i.e "could'nt run a good night in a brewery".In conclusion presumably their candidacies must have been "approved" by somebody/organization,so perhaps this could be the beginning of a welsh WATERGATE ,and we should follow the "paper trail"!!

  • Comment number 17.

    This law applies to all candidates, I.e the named candidates also. So even though it is hypothetical, let's imagine for a second it was Carwyn Jones and not a regional candidate, would it then transpire that the second placed candidate would be elected instead, or would the election fo that area have to be redone. The same principal should apply to both, we cannot accept the convenience of the regional aspect to determine the outcome. Law is open to interpretation and is rarely black and White, no matter who says it is, that's why so many people are highly paid and employed in this profession. So what should be the fair and honourable conclusion, I think NATURAL JUSTICE is what we are looking for, or perhaps common sense and integrity by all involved.

  • Comment number 18.

    At 21:15 19th May 2011, Dylanglyn wrote:

    This law applies to all candidates, I.e the named candidates also. So even though it is hypothetical, let's imagine for a second it was Carwyn Jones and not a regional candidate, would it then transpire that the second placed candidate would be elected instead, or would the election fo that area have to be redone.”

    It would have to be redone, because CJ is not a list candidate. Witness the case in England after the last Westminster election. An MP was disqualified and the election was redone. The law applies to all candidates, but the method of election doesn’t. Sorry.

  • Comment number 19.

    #2 The second vote is a fiction. It is intended to by the devolutionists to suggest the Assembly as modern and progressive in contrast to the British Parliament (old and regressive) while increasing the devolutionist payroll vote by twenty. Only 42/100 electors participated in the election to this structure.

  • Comment number 20.

    #18 Yes I know it is a different means of election, but why a different conclusion, shouldn't the same outcome apply to both so as not to demean the electorates vote or is that asking too much. I think Labours refusal to apply 17(3) on Wednesday was a very selfish decision and has brought the assembly to a halt before it started, the Police investigation as is now ongoing will result in a caution at most, it is hard to see why we should wait for the outcome of that.

  • Comment number 21.

    There would be no retrospective changing of the law, the same law that bars the AMs from membership also provides a method of disregarding the disqualification. Not to apply it would be vindictive in my view.

    The debate is not about the electoral system, and it hardly is something designed to elect "devolutionists". That is fantasy.

    In whose interest is it to prolong this exclusion. There will be no re election in either of the regions. No change in party composition. The two outcomes are either the two elected at the top of the list take their seats or the second placed Liberal Democrats will. The law was designed to remove conflicts of interest. That has been done. If the law was absolute then there would not be a mechanism for disregarding the disqualification. So lets act like adults and get the motion passed so we can move on. No fraud, no fiddling of expenses, and no one has been harmed as a result.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why is it unfair and natural justice should prevail where Politicians break the law. But when the ordinary Joe Public break it. the full weight should be brought to bare.

    A case of double standards methinks.

    I ask again have they broken the law, if yes, then the Police should be involved, if no then OK.

    No ambiguities no grey areas. The law doesn't allow it.

    Either we have laws or we have anarchy.

    The choice is yours.

    Being a member of a Political Party makes no difference what so ever.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ 12, Dylanglyn wrote:

    "It is a badly written law...
    The law should simply state that if elected the candidates must resign from any of these positions..."

    I agree. And unlike Glyndo, I think that it's a pertinent point. It's silly that people have to resign positions BEFORE they are elected even if people are required to do so for council elections (they shouldn't have to either). If a law is clearly wrong (as I think this one is) then it is also wrong to slavishly stick to it. It's wrong. Change it. Move on.

  • Comment number 24.

    #22 Who assumes my stance on Joe Public, law is not simply black and White, and any injustice to anyone is always worth contesting and fighting for. Just jumping on the bash the politicians bandwagon is not a constructive way forward. We need politicians of integrity, that I agree with. Having been in Aled Roberts constituency/ward for the last five years I can safely say that his integrity is beyond question in my opinion. I would treat any over zealous use of legislation whoever it applies to, sadly some of the AMs are treating this an opportunity to score points, that is what riles me the most, let's move on and reinstate these two new members.

  • Comment number 25.

    One part of my question is answered anyway. Some voters definitely vote for an individual on the regional list. It's plain then that to remove that individual and replace him with another is an infringement of the voters right to a fair outcome of an election.

    I think it's true to say also that the offence was committed at the point of STANDING for election and therefore the Assembly cannot retrospectively rule to ignore the offence.

    The best outcome, however, is a reprimand by the police and no further action followed by a swift acceptance of the two members by the Assembly.

    In the longer term I think that we should reform the additional member system so that members are more closely linked to voters.

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 Absolutely agree with your conclusions, I think the additional member system as it stands is bordering on nonsense. Unless you took the time to research the system you would not understand the system. It should be the duty of every governing body to make the voting process as clear and simple as possible, this definately does not meet either of those objectives. Lets hope common sense prevails.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cheers for the List Vote
    I look on the constituency vote and the list vote that I have as a 'do your duty' vote and a 'please yourself' vote. The Greens realised this was the way to appeal this time round and nearly got elected in SWC - next time, perhaps. Looking on the bright side of the 'conflict of interest' law drafting botch, if these two blokes get the push then it will make a start at redressing the gender balance. This time around we got 37 men to 23 women, but with Burnham and Parrot instead of the guys who didn't read the instructions we would have 35 men to 25 women. 25 able scrutineers should be enough for any new bill.

  • Comment number 28.

    What a joke. People posting utter nonesense to defend the indefensible.

    The candidates knew the rules before they stood for election and simply ignored them. At best this is a case (or two) of stupidity - in which case, who wants stupid AM's? At worst it is a clear case of trying to flout the rules and the law. In that case do we really want lawbreakers as AM's?

    The rules might be unfair - but that is not the issue - get elected honestly and you can campaign for a change.

    The Regional List is in my view a nonesense and should be replaced - but again that is not the issue - properly elected AM's can debate that and put any sugesstions to the electorate.

    If Roberts and Dixon had an ounce of integrity between them they would stand aside and let the Assembly move forward

  • Comment number 29.

    Betsan states that "Labour figure has asked me the question in the past 24 hours - "How would we look if one of the the first actions of the Assembly as a full legislative body was to vote to overturn and disregard clear electoral irregularities on the part of two of our members?"" Well, how would it look if they didn't?

    Perhaps it would look pretty much how it looked when Labour prohibited candidates appearing on both constituency and regional lists. A grubby little ploy that had the effect - if not the design - of making it difficult for parties fighting against Labour in marginal Labour constituencies to put up their strongest candidates. The upshot of this policy (combined with the bravery of the likes of Helen Mary Jones and Jonathan Morgan in standing in constituencies rather than on regional lists) is, in my opinion, a weakened Assembly. Should Aled Roberts and John Dixon be obliged to stand down, then the consequence is likely to be the same - weaker scrutiny and opposition. Only Labour stand to gain by such an outcome.

    The Lib Dems have clearly messed up here, but ultimately all parties will be judged by the manner in which the problems that have arisen are resolved. The response to date of Labour, and the Tory leadership candidate Nick Ramsey, smacks of opportunism. Some statesmanlike behaviour is called for here. Step forward Carwyn Jones...

  • Comment number 30.

    Surely the law is the law, full stop. And if it is overridden now in a rough and ready way over a trivial matter like this (no-one seems to be suggesting that the law was broken with bad intentions or for personal gain), then it sets a bad precedent. It will be possible to override the law again over something of fundamental importance later.

    Better to have it respected now, then improved, in order to have it finally ready and fit for use in the future.

  • Comment number 31.

    24. Dylanglyn

    ‘law is not simply black and White, and any injustice to anyone is always worth contesting and fighting for‘.

    If you are able to afford to contest and fight your case. How many of Joe Public can do that today especially with Legal Aid being taken away.

    The law is not open to interpretation, the law is the law.

    ‘that's why so many people are highly paid and employed in this profession’.

    What is open to interpretation is the twisting of the facts by these highly paid people in the profession.

    In Prosecution they can interpret the facts one way in defence they can interpret the same facts another way.

    That is nothing to do with the law.

    I am afraid the assumption is on your part. I in no way assumed anything towards you. In fact I don't seem to have said anything that did refer to you.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sorry to bring some Scrutiny to this argument but please look at the maths. With the constituency vote alone this time around we get an Assembly of 28 Labour members and 12 members only of ALL other parties - 6 Cons, 5 Plaid and one LibDem. This result, or one near it, would be repeated time after time. This would be a lopsided way to govern a country and no reflection of the electorate's political will. But the list vote comes to the rescue, bringing us 8 extra Cons, 6 extra Plaid, 4 extra LibDems and 2 extra Labour. Result this time 30-30 and a fun time for all.

  • Comment number 33.

    Just read Matt Withers on page 4 of todays Western Mail, I think it is goodby to both JD and AR, and even Ms Williams position as leader of the LD in Wales comes into question.

  • Comment number 34.

    33. DEWMACH

    and even Ms Williams position as leader of the LD in Wales comes into question.

    Of course it should be, these two AMs are scapegoat's for the party heirarchy.

    They should not have been allowed to be put in this position in the first place.



  • Comment number 35.

    i cannot believe i am typing this but i agree with SEDWOT. lets just get some apologies from them, nothing bad has happened so no harm done. From what i have seen these 2 seems like able people and flip knows the Assembly need decent performers

  • Comment number 36.

    Not very good are they, if they don't know the rules. Is the Assembly professional now, or is it still amateur night?

  • Comment number 37.

    Re 36
    Should your comment not read?

    Not very good, are they, if they do not know the rules, are the LIB DEMs professionalnow,or are they still amateurs.

  • Comment number 38.

    It takes less than five minutes to look up the website for the Electoral Commission and find the rules for eligibility for election to the National Assembly. Here is the list of disqualifications, it was updated in 2010 to be ready for the 2011 election:

    http://lexisweb.co.uk/SI/2010/2901-3000/National-Assembly-for-Wales-Disqualification-Order-2010/Part-1-Bodies-the-Members-of-which-are-Disqualified

    A simple matter to run down the list until you find what you want, or in this case, what you don't want.

  • Comment number 39.

    I think we are concerned about the Ethical and Legal position concerning the two am's Aled Roberts and John Dixon.
    What may be the telling factor and conclusion to this is the 'Political' nature and Political decision making of the Welsh labour party.
    I think Labour would rather have Eleanor Burnham back and Eluned Parrott. The two condemned may be more potent in opposition. Especially Dixon who likes to express himself. Dixon, Kirsty and Blackie may give Labour a bumpy ride . Labour rather have Eleanor and Eluned. The two EL's !

  • Comment number 40.

    39

    I think that you will find that it was an UKIP MEP who referred the matter to the police - so exactly how does that fit in the 'Political' nature and Political decision making of the Welsh labour party.

    The Labour Party rightly said that it would not endorse the breaking of the Law by Lib/Dems - what is political about that?

    It seems that both Plaid and the Cons whilst intially supportive of the Lib/Dems have back tracked and have said that they should stand aside. Perhaps the telling conclusion is that most AM's and most of the electorate do not like cheats!

  • Comment number 41.

    #28

    At last a bit of sense.

  • Comment number 42.

    #38 It takes less than five minutes to look up the website for the Electoral Commission and find the rules for eligibility for election to the National Assembly. Here is the list of disqualifications, it was updated in 2010 to be ready for the 2011 election

    I did just that on Wednesday night and both sites were still listing the old 2006 list which did not include the Valuation Tribunal!! they have since been updated.

    #28 Decentjohn.. what a load of twaddle, to accuse them of simply ignoring the law or of dishonesty is so far from the mark, have you never heard of genuine errors or human error, what the hell are we coming to if all we can do is put a heavier boot on when we kick them,,,

  • Comment number 43.

    Just for the record I am not a Lib Dem supporter, and have never voted for them, but if I was Kirsty Williams I'd be investigating the credentials of all regional list candidates at the recent election. It would hardly be surprising if other parties fell foul of these poorly communicated regulations. And that would make matters even more entertaining than they already are ...

  • Comment number 44.

    30.At 13:06 20th May 2011, cerea

    Completely agree.

    When are they going to put the "sign in" at the bottom instead of the top?

  • Comment number 45.

    If these guys had any principles they'd put everyone out of their misery and resign.

    Who are helping - the country? I don't hear a great clamour in my local for their re-instatement; - the Lib Dem Party? They can't be delighted to have this as a running sore, indeed their other new AM (Powell) scurried off to Dresen yesterday to support Russian human rights, something on every Welsh unemployed person's mind; - themselves? Mmm, I wonder, perhaps they want to underpin the Welsh public's view
    of the Assembly.

    Be men and resign.

  • Comment number 46.

    @Decentjohn

    Do not think there is no political manouevuring taking place.

    Plaid and Cons who originally backed them have weighed it up and now think it's not in there best interests to support them.

    While ever so Canny Labour have seen a chance to embarass their opponents and the media love something controversial to write about (so do bloggers!).

    Don't forget the Lib dems are the most vociferous opposition in plenary debate.

  • Comment number 47.

    @Dylanglyn
    'Yn achos Aled maen nhw'n nodi nad oedd y Tribiwnlys Prisiau ar restr y cyrff oedd wedi eu gwahardd a gyhoeddwyd yn 2006. Y rhestr honno oedd yn ymddangos ar wefan y Cynulliad adeg yr etholiad. Roedd y Tribiwnlys ar restr 2010 - yr un sydd ar wefan y Comisiwn Etholiadol ond mae 'na rhyw faint o "wriggle room" gan Aled. Mae'r Cyngor Gofal, y corff yr oedd John Dixon yn aelod ohono, ar y llaw arall ar y ddwy restr.'

    Vaughan Roderick doesn't agree with you. He says the 2006 list was on the Assembly website but the up-to-date 2010 list was on the Electoral Commission website at the time of the selection of candidates. It's only today that I have checked, and very easily, but I would be shocked if an old list were displayed on the website of a body that had recently updated their work(ie the Electoral Commission). You may have been checking the Assembly website on Wednesday...???

    Regardless of this, I think if most candidates saw an eligibility list dated 2006 they would check by phone for updates just to make sure..?

  • Comment number 48.

    @Bluepen

    Why should they resign if it is found that a mistake was made rather than any deliberate wrongdoing?

  • Comment number 49.

    48. Rhetoric

    If you made a mistake and went the wrong way down a one way street and you were booked.

    You'd expect to get away with it would you.

    If you made a mistake in your tax returns and get prosecuted for fraud.

    You would expect to get away with it would you.

  • Comment number 50.

    @alfsplace

    Don't talk nonsense. These chaps were elected to office by the people. A mistake in the 'regulations' should not prevent them. They have not been guilty of misconduct.

  • Comment number 51.

    #50

    Don't talk nonsense. These chaps were elected to office by the people.

    Can you tell me, of the people allowed to vote how many actually voted for them ? My guess less than 5 in 100.

  • Comment number 52.

    50. Rhetoric

    Don't talk nonsense. These chaps were elected to office by the people.

    So that makes them immune from the law then does it.

    Perhaps you could explain to us what the mistakes in the regulations are.

    Winston Roddick doesn't seem to think there are mistakes.

    Nor does Kirsty Williams according to Matt Withers in the Western Mail today.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/05/20/police-investigate-disqualified-liberal-democrat-ams-91466-28729478/

    I am sorry if you think I am talking nonsense, I can not do anything about that.

  • Comment number 53.

    @alf

    I think you take this political commentating alot more serious than what I do!

  • Comment number 54.

    50. At 21:30 20th May 2011, Rhetoric wrote:


    “........ They have not been guilty of misconduct.”

    You are quite correct; the allegation refers to “electoral fraud”. Misconduct is when you smoke behind the bike sheds.

    I repeat myself, but, this isn’t about them, it’s about the Assembly respecting the rule of law. They can’t be seen to be treated in a special way because of their position. Though, according to a legal expert on the TV, they have no position; their election is void.

  • Comment number 55.

    See ITV Blog starting at - "The clearest precedent is the case of Shelagh Roberts, who was disqualified as an MEP after winning London South West in the first European Parliament election in 1979. She too sat on a quango, the Occupational Pensions Board.

  • Comment number 56.

    42

    What twaddle - a moments reflection and a look at the facts will show you that this was not a genuine error.

    As others have pointed out - when we break the rules we get punished. To have any credibilty in this matter the Assembly must act decisively and exclude Roberts and Dixon.

    PS we used to have a great maxim that people adhered to - "ignorance of the law is no excuse". Sadly these two knew the Law and choose to ignore it.

    PPS The question remains "do we really want people who deliberately flout the rules in the Assembly"?

  • Comment number 57.

    Apparently the Liberal Democrats have a letter from the Care Council for Wales, dated May 9, saying Mr Dixon was now disqualified from being a member because of his election. They're claiming this means he should be in the clear.

    I don't think so - May 9 was four days after the election (May 5) and the content of the letter clearly indicates that he was a member at the time of the poll. Therefore he was still in breach of the rules and should be excluded.

    I agree with Decentjohn at 56, who quotes the maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but disagree that these two both knew it and chose to ignore it. One of them was apparently given the wrong information - but, since ignorance is no excuse, should not be allowed to rely on it to retain his seat.

  • Comment number 58.

    53. Rhetoric

    I think you take this political commentating alot more serious than what I do!

    You think, Rhetoric.

    Though I do take seriously what Winston Roddick and Kirsty Williams have said.

    You seem to have bypassed that.

  • Comment number 59.

    57 Mike Sivier

    Apparently the Liberal Democrats have a letter from the Care Council for Wales, dated May 9, saying Mr Dixon was now disqualified from being a member because of his election. They're claiming this means he should be in the clear.

    I agree.

    This is what was said.

    The Lib Dems said they have a letter dated 9 May from the care council to Mr Dixon which says that due to his election "your membership of the Care Council for Wales is terminated".

    May 9th. if they had this information, why has it taken until now for it to come to light.

    Why hasn't the Care Council highlighted it sooner.

    Surely it could have avoided all this if they had the information and it could have cleared everything up right at the beginning.

    11 days for the letter and information to emerge.

    Hmm.

    The hole just seems to be getting deeper.

  • Comment number 60.

    ... what is the point of a rule, a regulation, a law, ........ if it is not applied.

  • Comment number 61.

    Re the two Lib Dems.

    There are two issues here.
    1 The criminal side.
    2 Can or should the disqualification be put asside.

    The criminal side.
    Ignorance of the law is no defence. But ignorance of fact can be. That is, was it reasonable for AR to assume his organization was not prohibited. Given what been said of his circumstance, I think the CPS would not prosecute!
    As for JD. Stop digging, the letter of 9 5 2011 makes your hole even deeper. your only defence is proportionality. That is you have suffered enough, you have already lost your seat.

    The Disqualification.
    Can they be lifted?
    Each AM should be treated on each, own merit.
    AR has the best case.
    JD Perhas it would not be in his interst to lift the disqualification, as lifting it would increase the odds on him being prosecuted.

    As for Ms Williams, is it not time for her to take leadership seriousl. It is not only about attacking the opposition, which she is very good at. But also about leading and controlling her own party, which she is not as good at.
    It is time for her to tell JD , for his own sake, it is goodby. And ask Labour will they re enstate AR. It is thier call. as thay now have a majority. Carwyn should be able to tell her on Monday Lab decision.
    If it is yes, have the vote on Tuesday.
    If it is no, no need for a vote, and it is goodby to AR aswell.

    Can Ms Williams also surviive, it all depends, if she can save AR or not. And that is down to the Labour Majority.

    The decistion needs to be done this week. In that if the disqualification cannot be lifted this week it stays, and replacements nominated.

    The police issue is seperate.
    It is time to move on.

  • Comment number 62.

    I have a feeling that this is not going to be resolved quickly. Before anything else can happen, the Police/CPS have to complete their processes. Before the Assembly acts, I suspect everyone will want the best legal advice available (from Counsel) so that the solution recommended is not open to challenge. Then the Parties can do their bit.

    Whilst the disqualification provisions were in the 2 GOWAS and familiar to all who read the Acts, their precise effect and outworking does not appear to have been thought through. Indeed, the debate (to approve the latest Order drafted by WAG) in Plenary in December 2010 does touch on some areas of uncertainty, but evidently these were not taken up. At least not in time to avoid the current car crash. I think this is the sort of pickle where everyone can agree on one thing - where we are is not the place anyone would want to start from.

  • Comment number 63.

    I am getting more and more concerned about this.

    The two organisations are Welsh Government sponsored and especially the Care Council.

    This from the Welsh Governments Website

    http://wales.gov.uk/newsroom/healthandsocialcare/2009/090729carecouncil/?lang=en

    Care Council appointments are made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments Code of Practice.

    The Chair receives a daily rate of £249 and Members receive a daily rate of £195. The appointments have been made for a period of 4 years.

    Chair and member appointments to the Care Council for Wales.

    All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. .names omitted .......declared that they had not undertaken any political activity in the last 5 years.
    29 July 2009.

    Surely standing in an election is classed as undertaking political activity.

    With all these regulatory bodies and a Welsh Government Department involved and Mrs Williams intervention in Committee, surely someone should have been on the ball with this.

    All of a sudden after 10 days a letter emerges from this Government sponsored body aiming to clear one of the persons involved.

    Is it my cynicism or are there some all party political shenanigans going on here behind the scene to try and settle this.

    I think this may go deeper than we think.

  • Comment number 64.

    Re 63: personally I see nothing to suggest that we are looking at anything other than ignorance, carelessness or poor work. That is not to diminish the seriousness of a situation where two candidates are proclaimed as Assembly Members when as public appointees the law says they could not be and are not. I imagine that Welsh Ministers make appointments to the Care Council and, so, the Care Council could not remove one of its members. But it could have sent an advisory letter saying an appointed member could not also be an AM. I do not believe the letter has been released. But, anyway, my advice to the LibDems would be to keep quiet and let the processes run through - they cannot make things better by jumping up and down...Best avoided if you are the ones already looking foolish..

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    65.

    Hmm, Either some body didn't like what I said in my 65. Or the Mods are not very efficient in allowing the postings. it took half an hour for the Mods to delete it after accepting it. Plenty of time for some one to complain

    Must have touched a raw nerve or there was too much truth in it.

    Now I am more suspicious of who and what is acctualy involved.

  • Comment number 67.

    64. caradog_minchin

    ‘personally I see nothing to suggest that we are looking at anything other than ignorance, carelessness or poor work‘.

    You said it, this is a party who wants to, at the very least, be sharing Government in Wales. It doesn't say much about their professionalism or fitness for that privilege does it.

    When it comes to the law, none of these are an excuse.

    Let’s be honest it is the law and a legal requirement that is involved.


  • Comment number 68.

    Strong views on both sides here.
    Worth reflecting on the fundamentals.

    The regulations set out by the Electoral Commission appear not to have been met in detail.

    The regulation in question has its foundation in the Nolan Committee report "Standards in Public Life" which has evolved into a complex many stranded "Code of Practice".

    http://www.public-standards.gov.uk/index.html

    The regulation supposedly not adhered to is intended to prevent a member elected to the Welsh assembly having a potential Conflic of Interest in their role as a Legislator.

    The report and the Code is the basis of all "Codes of Conduct" used throughout our Legislatures and Councils, in fact all public bodies.
    The core of the Standards are the "The Seven Principles of Public Life" which encapsulate the standards which individuals should aspire to.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_on_Standards_in_Public_Life

    If you talk to any Council Monitoring Officer he will agree that there are many gray areas, much technical detail which anyone can easily trip up on.
    The seven principles are a sound place to start when assessing possible transgression.

    In this case I would suggest the 6th principle is worth considering;

    "Honesty – Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest."

    In my view they have met that requirement, and the matter should end there!

  • Comment number 69.

    68., West-Wales

    Then why are the Police looking into it.

    It is not your view or mine they will be looking into, but the legality of it all.

  • Comment number 70.

    Strange indeed....could it be that a top gun wasn't too keen on our Mr. Dixon?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ei2U9FlL4_Y

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Next time any one has a parking ticket or perhaps a speeding fine for being a few miles over the limit. Perhaps drop a piece of litter, or even put the wrong item in their recycling bag, or leave their rubbish bin out on the wrong day, all of which are not an offence against the democratic principle.

    Perhaps the best interests will be to ask the Magistrates for a Police caution or a reprimand and be sent home with a slap on the wrist.

    I am sorry to harp on about this, but it really annoys me that people are actually saying, that because they are Politicians of a certain party and democratically elected they should just have a slap on the wrist and be sent back to the classroom and let's forget about it because it is something trivial.

    Tell that to those who are arrested and prosecuted over what seem trivial matters every day.

    The law is the law, as it stands at the moment, if they have broken it, then they should be punished the same as any one of us lower mortals if not then that‘s OK.

    If a Political party is greatly embarrassed because of their ineptitude, then so be it

    I know one thing, as sure as God made little apples.

    If these were Plaid Cymru candidates, all hell would break loose on this Blog site and the return of hanging would be called for them.

  • Comment number 73.

    I really do not want this to be a party political issue, and indeed I don't think it is. You are dealing with several issues at once. Having seen elsewhere that someone's nomination was rejected for an English council because they left the letter y off party in their description I can well understand that its a nightmare. Further that the information given to one of the candidates was wrong I think the common sense solution is to use the power to wave the disqualification (as the reason for disqualification no longer exists) and seat the members, and then work on getting the law changed so we do not have this problem in the future. No one has been harmed, no party has gained, lets move on.

  • Comment number 74.

    alf ... I am no friend of Plaid, but how much more can be written, they broke the rules, yet the majority of all persuasions seem to want to forgive and forget, my position is ignorance of the law is no excuse, and if the law is bad change it for the future, in this case future elections.

    On a more philosophical bent, if a person resigns a position, does that person resign any sentiments he or she might have for that organisation, I doubt it.

  • Comment number 75.

    #74
    "ignorance of the law is no excuse"

    Unless of course you are a politician, the longer this goes on the more that the WAG is shown to be unable to put its house in order.

    People clinging on to power by their finger nails sad, really sad.

  • Comment number 76.

    Roger Williams MP was on today's Politics Show - apparently he thinks this is all down to the Assembly and the Returning Officers for not giving adequate guidance. Personally, I find this attitude in a legislator really disappointing. How many speeches do we hear from these people extolling the virtues of personal responsibility? But not if it is something in their way....

    That poor view of the law is echoed in post 73. If I transgress the law say by forgetting to display my tax disc, forgetting the speed limit in North Road or not remembering to renew my TV licence I will pay a penalty. The same holds here. Whether the GOWA is good or bad law can be discussed at leisure, but it is the law and it was not followed in these cases. I doubt that common sense will prevail - lawyering is so lucrative because the law is rarely about common sense..!

  • Comment number 77.

    Again what does the Welsh Government have to do with it? Its a matter for the National Assembly.

  • Comment number 78.

    74. John Tyler

    Do you mean all bad laws or just this one.

    because I can think of many unjust laws in this country, a lot are being made on the hoof today. So why don't you fight to get them changed.

    As for...On a more philosophical bent, if a person resigns a position, does that person resign any sentiments he or she might have for that organisation, I doubt it.

    That is a bit silly isn't it, If you believe in something and you are part of an organisation, no matter what, you will still want to be a part of it and fight for it, if you are still allowed by the organisation.


    73. Lyn David Thomas

    Why should we be prepared to move on and forget this issue when it is a real issue for many people every day if they break the law, even by mistake or unintentionally. They are not allowed to forget about it.

    Why are Politicians to be treated differently to the rest of us.

    As for it not wanting it to be a party political issue I stand by what I said.

    If these were Plaid Cymru candidates, all hell would break loose on this Blog site and the return of hanging would be called for them.

    Am I right or am I wrong.

    I know a lot of you on here would like to see this die down and be forgotten about for possible party political interests.

    But I will reiterate, right or wrong a law has been broken.

    So whether it is a good law or a bad one, has a law been broken or not.

    I am keeping on with this because we ordinary people would not be given the right to forget about it if it was us.

    It is the breaking of the law I am concerned about, not these two people.

    Also, it can not move on and be forgotten about because the Police are involved, a law has possibly been broken.

  • Comment number 79.

    77.At 14:16 22nd May 2011, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    “Again what does the Welsh Government have to do with it? Its a matter for the National Assembly.”

    We seem to be constantly disagreeing on this. I don’t think it is a matter for the Welsh Assembly. Either they were lawfully elected, or they weren’t. That is a matter for the electoral commission and law enforcement. The Welsh Assembly, by getting involved, simply demean themselves and their institution.

  • Comment number 80.

    At 12:54 22nd May 2011, Lyn David Thomas wrote:
    'I really do not want this to be a party political issue, and indeed I don't think it is'

    Lyn, This is a party political issue. UKIP reported this to the police which has done the real damage. Not only to Mr. Dixon and Mr. Roberts. But also to the reputation of the Assembly.
    It will be UKIP who will be having a fierce battle in 2014 with the Lib dems for the 4th Euro spot.

    John Tyler, as a rookie Stonemason you never made a mistake working the stone?
    Was it not Rodin who said that one has got to make a 1000 mistakes in order to be a great sculptor. I've certainly made a few working stone over the years.

  • Comment number 81.

    alf ... you wrote

    ".. Do you mean all bad laws or just this one." and "...because I can think of many unjust laws in this country, a lot are being made on the hoof today. So why don't you fight to get them changed."

    All bad laws, If only we had the time to meet these aspirations, our elected representatives might like to take up the challenge though, they have both the time and resources.

    Where I wrote ".... if a person resigns a position etc .... ", it wasn't a silly observation, at Westminster there is a list of members interests, the recognition that a MP has other affiliations, a doctor doesn't resign from his or her society/college, no they make a declaration in the book of members interests, their sentimental affiliations.

  • Comment number 82.

    #80, Rhetoric you brought back memories. You must remember the work being taken down and re-built, little sympathy from the foreman or workmates, I think the same can be applied to the law.

  • Comment number 83.

    It appears that the information provided by the Electoral Commission to potential candidates was out of date (based on the original 20006 list) , and did not include the bodies involved in this case, which were only added in January 2011.

    That appears to me to be an absolute defence - because the EC has to be regarded as the definitive authority on all things electoral, otherwise, what is it for?

    Some posters on here who are trying to use this story to decry the National Assembly should pause and reflect on the case of Elliot Morley, who was a Westminster government minister, and was systematically defrauding the state all that time. A sense of proportion is needed.

  • Comment number 84.

    Re 79. Under the GOWA 2006 the Assembly apparently has the power to set aside the disqualification so it will be on the hook. Nothing will be done without full legal advice and after the police/CPS/any Court case is done I guess.

    The Government is involved because the Order listing those public bodies whose membership leads to disqualification was put forward by them. So reviewing the number of bodies shown etc will end up on Carwyn's desk I guess.

  • Comment number 85.

    I agree that it is right and proper that the alleged offences are fully investigated by the law enforcement agencies. However, in contrast to the examples of trivial instances of law-breaking given above, the law-breaking in this instance did not endanger life (unlike speeding), involve personal gain (unlike avoidance of paying for a tax disc), or involve anti-social behaviour (unlike littering and parking offences). So, yes, let the legal process run its course, but then in all probability the alleged offenders will be fully exonerated, or receive at most a caution.

    There is a distinct lack of proportionality in the responses of some on this blog - hinting at a political agenda masquerading as a concern for enforcement of the law.

    Once the legal process is complete (hopefully soon), the entirely political decision, as to whether to admit them to the Senedd, can be made with all this pseudo-legalistic argument having faded into the background.

  • Comment number 86.

    Re 83

    Only one of the two can use your excuse. Therefore the other must go.

    And if the LD are not carefull, by mixing the two cases, they could loose both, and Ms Williams looses the leadership aswell.

  • Comment number 87.

    @John Tyler

    John, I did not mean from Foreman or workmates. But your own individual development as a mason. working the stone, carving it , laying, selecting the right stone, the arch that fell down (once for me), the foundation not dug deep enough for walling. There is loads and loads of possible potential for error for inexperienced hands.
    My point is that these chaps are only newcomers and an oversight such as not resigning from public funded bodies should not preclude them because they were democratically elected.

  • Comment number 88.

    I see your point Rhetoric, myself I considered the process not the people, the people being a by-product.

    If your proposition is to give elected members a period of time following election to resign from the proscribed bodies I can support you, unfortunately that is in the future, today we have two people outwith the rules, and rules are important.

    If the Assembly even call for the issue to be set aside through a vote then it is a poor example for those who abide by the rules that society lives by, if the Assembly vote in favour of the issue being set aside it would be seen as a legislative body that will use "set aside" for convenience.

    Now, sometime last year, a commentator referred to the Assembly as a "Democratic Dictatorship", Wales needs better than that, abiding by the law is a good step in the right direction.

  • Comment number 89.

    81. John Tyler

    Where I wrote ".... if a person resigns a position etc .... ", it wasn't a silly observation, at Westminster there is a list of members interests, the recognition that a MP has other affiliations, a doctor doesn't resign from his or her society/college, no they make a declaration in the book of members interests, their sentimental affiliations.

    John, My apologies for the misunderstanding.

    85. alarch

    in contrast to the examples of trivial instances of law-breaking given above,

    Trivial instances of law breaking, a law, is a law, is a law, there are no differentiating circumstances in the law.

    Legally there are no trivial laws. You are just as guilty of a misdemeanour as you are of a major crime, if you are found guilty of it.

    If you steal a penny you are breaking the law as if you stole a £1,000,000.

    If you are giving false evidence in court whether deliberately or innocently you are charged with perjury as it is against the law.

    No matter whether life is endangered, personal gain obtained, or anti-social behaviour.

    As you say if they are found to be innocent of any wrong doing then they will be cleared of any blame.

    I will say again, what I am against, is people on here saying the law should be circumvented for these two people and forgotten about.

    It is not about Political agenda masquerading as concern. Though I believe all those commenting on here (yes probably me as well) are commenting from their own Political allegiances. Whether we admit to it or not, is another matter.

    It is about every one being equal under the law and they must go through the due process of that law whether it is the down and out on the street or the Lord in his castle.

    The law is outside Politics, though I know it is difficult to differentiate today with Political interference.

  • Comment number 90.

    Absolutely alf, absolutely right, and that should be the end of it.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ alfsplace1986
    You have set out your position very clearly.

    But is Electoral legislation gone too far here. Has it trumped Democracy or the ballot box?
    I pose this rhetorical question because we are all looking from a legal angle .

  • Comment number 92.

    John, Rhetoric.

    Thank you.

    I rest my case, as they say in a law court and await the decision.

  • Comment number 93.

    I can not get too excited about this - If I was selected as a candidate for a party and did not think that I had much of a chance in winning, I probably would not resign from my post either. And surely the issue here is that they can not hold down the public sector job and the AM at the same time, so the onus is on resigning your former post before you take up the AM post - not before standing as a candidate?

    Many people have said it before - The law is an ass.

  • Comment number 94.

    What about their Agents, they should know the legal position, what was their advice to the candidates?
    It sounds like the LDs didnt bother to get the information, or the agents didn't advise the candidates, or the candidates didn't take the advice.

    Anyway, this has to wait till the Police have finished their investigation----I'm sure the truth will then be known.

 

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