Carl Sargeant inquiries - the latest

It is still unclear exactly how the two investigations into the death of Carl Sargeant will pan out.

The coroner's inquiry is underway. The other independent investigation, being led by a QC, is yet to begin.

The First Minister told Assembly Members he wants a full account of the circumstances surrounding his death to be told in one go - in other words he wants to be judged on the entirety of the story.

Reporting on the tragic events of the past week has been, at times, like trying to give an account of a telephone conversation while listening to just one of the voices.

There has been a bunker mentality at the heart of the Welsh Government.

Mental welfare

It is now starting to relax, particularly after AMs had the chance to pay tribute to Mr Sargeant, but any sensitive questions will be batted away as subject to the official inquiry.

If the inquest comes first, then part of the story will become public, as there will be statements from Carwyn Jones, and others, and the coroner says he will focus on Mr Sargeant's mental welfare prior to his death.

This should give us a picture of the sequence of events, and in particular what kind of efforts were made by the party to contact him during the weekend after he was sacked.

Presumably, there will still be a number of questions that will have to be answered and they will have to be dealt with in the independent investigation, including:

Why was Carl Sargeant sacked as a minister before an investigation had taken place?

Should Carl Sargeant have been given more details about the allegations that had been made against him?

Why did Carwyn Jones do interviews talking about the claims when the UK Labour party had begun an inquiry into the misconduct allegations?

Why was the initial inquiry carried out by a special advisor in Carwyn Jones' office and not by civil servants?

Then there is the added question about whether the actual allegations against Mr Sargeant themselves will be taken up by the inquiry.

The original Labour party investigation has now stopped and the coroner has said he will not be looking into the veracity of the claims.


In the meantime, the cabinet and Labour AMs, are prepared to back the First Minister while this continues, although in time they will want to know exactly what and how things happened before they make a judgement.

And the business of government goes on. Carwyn Jones will have the implications of Philip Hammond's budget and Brexit legislation in his immediate in-tray.

As it was put to me, there will have to be effective "compartmentalisation" going on, as the Carl Sargeant fall-out continues.

And then what is to be made of the bullying allegations at the top of the Welsh Government in the years leading up to 2014?

The account from the First Minister's former media advisor Steve Jones gave an unprecedented insight into how he felt it operated.


Unlike at Westminster where different government departments are situated in different buildings around Whitehall, Welsh Government ministers are based on the fifth floor of a building directly behind the Senedd.

Steve Jones said it was akin to a "battery-hen arrangement" which was handy in terms of proximity but he also claimed it meant there were opportunities to micromanage, frustrate and thwart ministers, including Carl Sargeant and Leighton Andrews.

The Conservatives are going to push hard on this. They feel the First Minister may have misled the Assembly when he said in 2014 he had not dealt with any allegations about bullying by special advisors, and then told AMs this week that he dealt with any issues that were brought to his attention.

There was also the added complication that Carwyn Jones appeared to misunderstand what he actually told the Conservatives back in 2014.

It is difficult to see where this goes.

In time, I would expect the Welsh Government line to be a variation of that given by the finance secretary Mark Drakeford when he said the top of government can be robust and full of passionate argument.

Unless new information comes to light, it appears this will come down to perception. After all, what appears to be bullying to one person will be a difference of opinion to another.