Wales politics

Carl Sargeant inquest: Bid to include text evidence refused

Carl Sargeant
Image caption Carl Sargeant was found dead after an investigation was launched into his conduct

Texts between two top Labour councillors will not be used as evidence in the inquest of sacked Welsh Government minister Carl Sargeant.

Lawyers wanted messages from Flintshire council leader Aaron Shotton and deputy Bernie Attridge included.

But High Court Judge Mr Justice Swift dismissed a bid by Carwyn Jones's representatives to challenge the coroner's decision not to admit them.

This came after it emerged Mr Attridge may have lied to coroner John Gittins.

Mr Sargeant was found dead at his home in Connah's Quay, Flintshire, four days after then-First Minister Mr Jones sacked him from his job as communities secretary in November 2017.

Image caption Lawyers for Carwyn Jones argued the text messages should form part of the inquest

The Alyn and Deeside AM faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women and an inquest gave a provisional cause of death as hanging.

At the inquest in November, Mr Gittins rejected applications from the Welsh Government to hear evidence from Mr Shotton and Mr Attridge.

Welsh Government lawyers believe there was a text exchange between the two men which was important to the case.

In a High Court judgement on Friday, Mr Justice Swift ruled out the application to overturn the coroner's ruling.

Image copyright Helen Tipper
Image caption Carl Sargeant's inquest is being heard by coroner John Gittins

He said: "When considering the applications to admit, the coroner directed himself correctly, i.e. whether the evidence was relevant evidence, necessary for the determination of the issues in the inquest.

"The coroner's conclusion not to admit the evidence was a conclusion reasonably and lawfully open to him.

"The claimant's pleading does not make out an arguable case that the decision was inconsistent with previous decisions on admissibility of evidence taken by the coroner in the course of the inquest."

A statement from Mr Attridge, read at the inquest in November, said he thought "the sacking killed my friend".

But Cathy McGahey, counsel for Mr Jones, said it appeared Mr Attridge had some "knowledge of behaviour that would have made Mr Sargeant anxious".

The inquest into Mr Sargeant's death is expected to resume later this year.

The Welsh Government has been asked to comment.

More on this story