Wales

Carl Sargeant suicide: Sacked ministers 'need support'

Carl Sargeant
Image caption The married father-of-two was found hanged at his home in November 2017

Sacked ministers need more support, a coroner has recommended, after a politician killed himself days after being dismissed from Welsh Government.

Children's Minister Carl Sargeant, 49, was found hanged in November 2017 after being sacked over claims of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

The Welsh Government announced changes to the treatment of sacked ministers the day before the coroner's report.

Ministers should have "appropriate channels of support", the coroner said.

John Gittins, who recorded a conclusion of suicide at Mr Sargeant's inquest, recommended support for high profile politicians removed from a government role and "whose removal from office will attract significant media interest".

The senior coroner for north east Wales added politicians should also get help "whether or not that person has any mental vulnerabilities or the reason for the loss of their role".

Mr Sargeant, who had mental health issues and was on anti-depressants, was AM for Alyn and Deeside when he was found dead at his home in Connah's Quay by his wife Bernadette.

The coroner said Mr Sargeant had been diagnosed with depression in 2012 following a "life event", coupled with the pressure of his role as a minister.

Image caption Jack Sargeant welcomed the Welsh Government's response to the corner's recommendation

The inquest heard there were no official arrangements in place to support him following the 2017 re-shuffle "despite the probability that the [then] first minister [Carwyn Jones] knew of Mr Sargeant's vulnerability in relation to his mental health".

Mr Sargeant's family said he was deprived of "natural justice" and was not informed of any of the detail of the allegations against him, despite requests and warnings regarding his mental welfare.

Mr Gittins has written to the Welsh Government to prevent further deaths and said: "I believe you have the power to take such action."

First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the changes on Wednesday and said his response had been informed by consultations with serving and former ministers, as well as the Sargeant family.

Mr Sargeant's son Jack, who replaced his father as AM for Alyn and Deeside, said he hoped Mr Drakeford would be "the guardian of a kinder type of politics".

An investigation into the former first minister's handling of Mr Sargeant's sacking, led by the QC Paul Bowen, is yet to begin.

The protocol adopted by the Bowen inquiry was successfully challenged in court by Mr Sargeant's family and has now been revised.

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