Gareth Bennett faces week's Welsh Assembly ban over barmaid video

image captionMr Bennett leads the UKIP group of AMs in the assembly

UKIP's Welsh Assembly leader is set to be excluded from the Senedd for a week after he superimposed an AM's head on a woman in a low cut top in a video.

South Wales Central AM Gareth Bennett was mocking Labour's Joyce Watson in the YouTube clip.

The assembly's standards committee said Mr Bennett's broke the assembly's code of conduct. He will not receive pay during the exclusion.

A UKIP Wales spokesman declined to comment.

Ms Watson said the video was "sexist and blatantly misogynistic".

Mr Bennett published the clip on YouTube last May in response to Ms Watson referring to UKIP AMs as "rabid dogs" in a debate.

In the since deleted video, he made derogatory comments about her, saying Ms Watson used to run a pub but "you wouldn't guess that from looking at her".

image captionJoyce Watson is a Labour AM for Mid and West Wales

Following an investigation, the former standards commissioner for the Northern Ireland Assembly, Douglas Bain, found content in the video to be demeaning.

He described it as "gratuitous personal abuse".

Ms Watson told Mr Bain that part of the video - which featured her head on the body of a corseted barmaid in Bavarian-style dress - had caused considerable distress to her and her family.

Members of the committee, which governs the discipline of AMs, agreed the video was "unacceptable" and amounted to a severe breach of the code of conduct.

Mr Bennett's position on the committee was described as "unviable" by his colleagues - they recommended he is stripped of the post.

"In a climate where we are trying to ensure everybody feels empowered to come forward and raise issues and concerns about inappropriate behaviour, we do not believe his continuing membership of this committee, for the duration of this assembly, is appropriate," the report said.

The committee also noted Mr Bennett did not apologise.

He had said the investigation the video was intended to be "satirical", claimed it did not make direct reference to Ms Watson's appearance but targeted her because of her hostility to UKIP.

A report from the standards committee revealed Mr Bennett walked out of an interview with Mr Bain, with the AM warned that failing to attend a newly-scheduled date would constitute a criminal offence.

That repeat visit Mr Bain had to make cost the investigation an additional £500, which the committee wants Mr Bennett to repay.

In the second interview, Mr Bennett suggested Mr Bain was threatening him when he said a court may decide whether an answer he was giving was credible.

"You threatening me is not really gonna to have me shivering in my boots, will it," Mr Bennett said, according to the report. Mr Bain denied he was threatening him.

Fresh complaints

Mr Bennett will be the second UKIP AM to be excluded, after now-former party AM Michelle Brown was sanctioned last year.

It will also be the second time Mr Bennett has lost pay following a standards row.

The Northern Ireland standards watchdog was appointed after the assembly's sitting standards commissioner, Sir Roderick Evans, initially declined to investigate, believing the video to be neither sexist or misogynist.

Following fresh complaints, Sir Roderick re-opened the matter, but recused himself from it, leading to the new investigation.

Health Minister Vaughan Gething, Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone and Cardiff North AM Julie Morgan, had all asked Sir Roderick to review the matter.

Ms Morgan said: "The commentary and imagery to which I have referred must have been very hurtful to Joyce Watson and reflected adversely on all women.".

The moves will need to be approved by the assembly, with AMs expected to consider the matter on Wednesday.

If approved, Mr Bennett's week-long exclusion would start on 29 April.

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