Carl Sargeant suicide: Family calls for 'meaningful' investigation to start

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

The family of a Welsh minister who killed himself after being dismissed two years ago have called for a "meaningful" investigation to start.

Carl Sargeant was found dead days after his sacking amid claims of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Then-first minister Carwyn Jones announced a QC-led independent inquiry into his handling of the sacking.

But in March the High Court ruled he acted unlawfully in taking decisions on how the probe would work.

On Thursday, the Welsh Government said his successor, Mark Drakeford, has promised to discuss the next steps with the family.

In April, Mr Drakeford asked a senior lawyer to draw up a new set of rules for inquiry.

On the two-year anniversary of Mr Sargeant's death, the family have called for transparency on the circumstances surrounding it.

In a statement issued through their lawyers, the family said "it's almost 2020 and there has been no inquiry into the way Carl's removal from office was handled".

"And while we have faith in the inquiry chair Paul Bowen, we have no faith in his remit.

"Just four days after Carl's death, the Welsh government told us they would be transparent about the circumstances that led up to his death."

"We trusted them, but they have failed us."

Image caption,
Carl Sargeant's son Jack and wife Bernadette arrive at his inquest at Ruthin County Hall

An inquest into the death of Mr Sargeant ended in July with Coroner John Gittins concluding the former communities secretary had killed himself and urging more support be made available to sacked ministers.

The family's lawyer Neil Hudgell wants the family to be legally represented at the inquiry with a barrister allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

He also wants the inquiry to have the power to compel witnesses to attend, saying otherwise it will "lack teeth" and be a "whitewash".

"I urge the first minister to mark Carl's anniversary by lifting the suspension on the inquiry so that a meaningful investigation can get underway," he said.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "As the first minister said in the Senedd on Tuesday, Carl Sargeant and the Sargeant family remain in our thoughts following his untimely death two years ago.

"Following the conclusion of the inquest, the first minister said he would have discussions with the family to seek their views about the next steps in the inquiry process.

"It would therefore not be appropriate to comment further."