Barred Lib Dem Aled Roberts regains Welsh assembly seat

Aled Roberts returned to the assembly after a free vote by AMs

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A disqualified member of the Welsh assembly has regained his seat after AMs voted to readmit him.

Liberal Democrat Aled Roberts had stood down a fortnight after May's election because he belonged to a public body from which AMs are barred.

Members voted to reinstate Mr Roberts after an investigation found he was misled by out-of-date guidance for election candidates published in Welsh.

He said it had been a difficult period and he now wanted to represent voters.

AMs lifted his disqualification by 30 votes to 20 in the Senedd on Wednesday, with three abstaining after a near 50-minute debate.

Mr Roberts, elected for the North Wales region, was disqualified when it emerged he was a member of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales, which deals with appeals about business rates and council tax.

Start Quote

Aled Roberts can now get on with the job of representing the people of north Wales who elected him”

End Quote Kirsty Williams Welsh Lib Dem leader

On Tuesday a report by assembly standards commissioner Gerard Elias QC said Mr Roberts "did everything that he could have reasonably been expected to do in ensuring that he was not a disqualified person for the purpose of nomination or election".

The report said Mr Roberts followed Welsh language advice from the Electoral Commission which referred him to regulations on proscribed bodies from 2006. They were replaced by a new order in 2010.

In a statement, the Commission said "there were mistakes made" in its guidance for candidates.

During the debate, Lib Dem AM Peter Black said the Elias report "makes a very strong case for re-seating Aled Roberts".

But Labour AM Mick Antoniw, who voted against the motion, said: "Setting aside the (disqualification) order in the circumstances would, I believe, undermine the credibility and integrity of the assembly."

'Very nervous'

After the vote, Mr Roberts said there were lessons to be learned from the case.

He told BBC Radio Cymru he did not listen to the debate and was very nervous before the result.

Mr Elias QC had been "very clear in his opinion about the case".

Eluned Parrott Eluned Parrott was sworn in as an AM on Wednesday to replace John Dixon

"The last two months hasn't been easy for me or my family," he said.

He said he wanted to return to the assembly and "catch up with the two months that have been lost and start representing the people of north Wales the best I can".

Mr Roberts was one of two disqualified Lib Dems.

But John Dixon, elected for the South Wales Central region, will not return to the assembly. His party withdrew a motion to lift his disqualification after Mr Elias QC said he failed to read the relevant regulations as a candidate.

He was replaced as an AM by Eluned Parrott, the party's second-place candidate in the region, who swore the oath before Wednesday's vote on Mr Roberts's fate.

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said: "The advice of Gerard Elias QC was clear and I am delighted that that legal advice was taken on board by assembly members.

"I believe that today, the assembly showed itself to be a mature institution, confident enough to take the right course of action to right a wrong.

"Aled Roberts can now get on with the job of representing the people of north Wales who elected him. I know that he will do so with distinction, enhancing the reputation of not just his party but the assembly."

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