Wales politics

Ross England should resign or 'be ejected' says senior Welsh Tory

Ross England in Barry
Image caption Ross England has been suspended as a candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan

A senior Conservative member of the Welsh Assembly has called for a man who collapsed a rape trial to resign as a Tory assembly candidate or be "ejected".

Darren Millar said he felt "very, very strongly" Ross England should not stand "under the Conservative banner".

Mr England was suspended two weeks ago after his conduct as a witness in a rape trial in April 2018 was reported.

The party has referred the matter to its candidates' committee.

A Welsh Conservative spokeswoman said a "full investigation is underway".

In December 2018, Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns welcomed Mr England's selection as the Tories' Vale of Glamorgan assembly candidate, describing him as a "friend and colleague" with whom "it will be a pleasure to campaign".

Mr England was suspended as a candidate in October when reports came to light of his role in the collapse of the trial by giving evidence the judge had already warned would be inadmissable.

A week later Mr Cairns resigned from the cabinet after coming under pressure to explain when he first knew about the matter.

Image caption Darren Millar was elected to the Welsh Assembly in 2007

Speaking on the This Is Not A Hustings podcast, Clwyd West AM Mr Millar, a vice-chair of the Welsh Conservatives, was asked if he was "despairing" about some of the recent "decisions and selections" the party had made.

He said: "It's been pretty horrible, to be honest.

"You've alluded to one particular person who's not actually standing in this election but is a candidate for the assembly, and frankly he should resign.

"He should not be a candidate and, if he doesn't resign, he should be ejected from the approved candidates list that we have here in Wales for the Welsh Assembly, and certainly not be able to stand under the Conservative banner.

"That's my view, my personal view, and I hold it very very strongly.

"It does call into question the size of the pool all parties are fishing from in terms of quality of candidates."

Giving evidence in the April 2018 trial, Mr England made claims about having a sexual relationship with the victim, which she denied, after judge Stephen John Hopkins QC had made it clear evidence about her sexual history was inadmissible.

Mr Hopkins said Mr England had deliberately sabotaged the trial and asked him: "Why did you say that? Are you completely stupid?"

When his role in the trial's collapse was reported, Mr England said he had not been told anything had been ruled inadmissible prior to his testimony.

The defendant James Hackett was subsequently convicted of rape at a retrial.

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