Wales politics

Carl Sargeant leak report 'not worth the paper it's written on'

Carl Sargeant
Image caption Carl Sargeant was communities minister and AM for Alyn and Deeside

The Conservatives say there are still unanswered questions about whether people outside the Welsh Government knew Carl Sargeant was going to be sacked by Carwyn Jones in 2017.

An inquiry found information about his dismissal was circulating before he was told by the then first minister.

Government sources say there was speculation, but no information was released.

But the Tories say a leak inquiry was "not worth the paper it's written on".

Earlier on Thursday, an inquest concluded Mr Sargeant killed himself after being dismissed.

Carl Sargeant was found hanged at home in Connah's Quay, Flintshire, by his wife Bernadette on 7 November 2017.

He was sacked as minister for communities and children over claims of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

There have been repeated questions about whether people outside the government knew Mr Sargeant would be sacked before he was told about the allegations against him during a reshuffle on November 3, 2017.

Labour AM Lee Waters has said he had a text in advance of Mr Sargeant's sacking telling him he would be removed from the cabinet.

Last year an internal leak inquiry concluded there had been no unauthorised release of information.

But the inquiry's findings were not published until after Mr Sargeant's inquest.

They say: "Some information about the nature of the allegations made against Mr Sargeant and his removal from the cabinet were circulating prior to the first minister meeting him on the 3rd November 2017.

"All Welsh Government disclosures of this information have been investigated and found to be authorised disclosures."

The report - just over a page long - adds: "There is no evidence of a prior unauthorised sharing of information by the Welsh Government of information relating to the recent ministerial reshuffle."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies has dismissed the leak report published as worthless

The inquiry was conducted by the Welsh Government's chief security officer, who searched emails entering or leaving the government's networks.

Staff were given questionnaires and some were interviewed. No "direct electronic evidence" of information being sent from government officials to unauthorised recipients was found.

But it says: "There is evidence that information was shared between some Labour members of parliament and an assembly member immediately prior to Mr Sargeant's meeting with the first minister."

There were "a number of times" that accounts by individuals conflicted or had differing interpretations.

A source told BBC Wales political editor Felicity Evans that the document published after the inquest and titled "investigation closure minute" was not the full report.

"We need to see the notes of interviews conducted as part of this inquiry," the source said.

Conservative AM Andrew RT Davies said it was "not worth the paper it's written on".

Welsh Tory assembly group leader Paul Davies called on First Minister Mark Drakeford to publish more information, "because this statement simply serves to add to the pain of a family still mourning the much-loved, larger than life character we all miss greatly".

No 'substantive changes'

It has also emerged that Carl Sargeant's family and their lawyers will not be able to directly question witnesses in a separate investigation into how he was sacked as a cabinet minister.

An investigation, led by a QC, was set up by Carwyn Jones.

But it has yet to start work and the Welsh Government was forced to reconsider how it will gather evidence after a successful High Court challenge by the Sargeant family.

The government asked Jonathan Jones QC, Treasury Solicitor and Head of the UK Government Legal Department, to look again at how the inquiry would work.

In a letter to Mark Drakeford, published today, he recommends technical changes to the investigation's operating protocol, but says "I do not consider that any substantive changes need to be made".

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