Wales politics

Neil McEvoy denies trying to ambush child care meeting

Neil McEvoy
Image caption Neil McEvoy is a councillor for Fairwater in Cardiff

A politician facing claims he bullied staff at a children's care home has told a hearing witnesses lacked credibility and embellished the truth.

Cardiff councillor Neil McEvoy faces claims he bullied staff responsible for a child, who was alleging assault.

He said the allegation he had ambushed a therapy meeting was untrue.

Mr McEvoy, who is also an independent Assembly Member for South Wales Central, said he made arrangements to attend the meeting.

Cardiff council's standards and ethics sub-committee is investigating alleged breaches of the council's code of conduct by Mr McEvoy, a former member of Plaid Cymru.

The committee heard he attempted to attend a meeting between the child, their parents and a therapist.

He maintains he was invited and was acting for the family, who feared their child had been assaulted in care.

His involvement led to contact between the child and their parents to be suspended, the committee has heard.

On Tuesday, the panel heard from a senior residential care worker from the private care company about a call she answered while on duty at the home on 29 April.

The caller identified himself as AM Neil McEvoy - the care worker told the hearing she "had never heard of the man before".

"He explained the purpose and that he would be visiting the home that day because he felt there was a child at risk and he wanted to come to see him.

"I explained that wasn't possible, obviously I had to safeguard all the children in the home. He wouldn't accept it, he was adamant he was going to come that day."

She said she felt intimidated and anxious and called a colleague into the office for support during the call.

Image caption Mr McEvoy was elected to the Welsh Assembly in 2016

On behalf of Mr McEvoy, Jacqui Hurst, who works for him, put it to her the politician's tone changed after she told him she would have him removed by the police if he turned up and was it not to be expected his tone would change given this.

"Slightly, but I felt intimidated," she replied.

Ms Hurst then pointed to what she said was "significant difference" between the first and second statement given by the witness and "there was no mention of a raised voice in her first description".

The witness agreed there may have been changes, but said overall they were the same.

"Just because I didn't say in the first statement that a voice was raised it doesn't mean I wasn't intimidated," she said.

'Balding and slightly overweight'

The panel also heard from a personnel manager at the care company who said he had gone to tell the child's father the therapy meeting had been cancelled because of Mr McEvoy's presence.

"Neil McEvoy was quite confrontational," he said. "He had his phone right in my face, he failed to identify himself."

He described how Mr McEvoy was on the phone and described him to the person on the other end as "scruffily dressed, balding and slightly overweight," and he felt threatened.

Mr McEvoy, who asked the father of the child to record the conversation on his phone, challenged this saying "where do I call you scruffy... you've embellished the evidence" to which the witness replied "possibly, yes".

Mr McEvoy asked if when he made his complaint on 11 May he was aware that he, Mr McEvoy, had lodged a complaint against him, but the witness said he was not.

He then said the recording of showed that was a lie, because he told him face to face he was making a formal complaint.

He said he was unhappy Monday's hearing had left the impression he ambushed the meeting.

'Irate'

Ms Hurst said she helped organise the meeting and had spoken to the social worker, but that had not been recognised as part of the hearing.

Another staff member who greeted the father of the child and Mr McEvoy at the care home told the hearing how in both their interactions Mr McEvoy had been irate.

The panel was played a recording of their conversation and Mr McEvoy asked: "Was my voice raised during the recording?"

He agreed it was not, so Mr McEvoy questioned why his statement said it was.

"That was my recollection," replied the witness. "In my opinion it was more raised than normal."

Mr McEvoy then said the witness had embellished the evidence without realising he was being recorded and accused the witness of being aggressive towards him.

"I thought you were going to lay your hands on me," he said.

"You made me feel threatened, I wondered if you had any interaction with the child in the case."

The hearing continues.

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