Court ruling: Carwyn Jones involvement in Sargeant probe ‘unlawful’

By Tomos Evans

Former Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones making decisions on an investigation into the sacking of former Welsh Government minister Carl Sargeant was ‘unlawful’, according to a High Court ruling.

Mr Sargeant, the former Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside had served as a member of the Welsh Government for ten years until he was found dead at his home days after he was dismissed by the then-First Minister.

Following Mr Sargeant’s passing, Mr Jones succumbed to pressure from his former colleague’s family and Welsh Labour AMs to call an investigation into his handling of Mr Sargeant’s dismissal.

A press statement dated 10 November 2017, released on behalf of Mr Jones, claimed “that the arrangements for the investigation would be made separately from his office”.

However, Mr Sargeant’s widow, Bernie, recently mounted a High Court challenge questioning the organisation of the inquiry.

The inquiry into Mr Sargeant’s death had been placed on hold pending the result of Mrs Sargeant’s legal challenge.

Mr Jones stepped down as First Minister in December after nine years at the helm, though he continues to serve as the Assembly Member for Bridgend.

Speaking to Llais y Maes in last year’s National Eisteddfod, Mr Jones described the day he learned that Mr Sargeant had died as his “hardest day” as First Minister.

Following the legal challenge, the two judges, Lord Justice Haddon-Cove and Mr Justice Swift, ruled that Carwyn Jones unlawfully had control over the inquiry’s rules.

In a statement, they said: “In the circumstances of this case, those representations were legally enforceable and it was not reasonable for Mr Jones to depart from them”.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Welsh Government thanked the court for “providing clarity on what has been a complex process”. They added: “We will now consider the next steps in light of today’s judgement”.

It is expected that the inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death will reopen in July.

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