The former first minister of Wales has been accused of being a liar at the inquest into the death of sacked minister Carl Sargeant.
Mr Sargeant, the Alyn and Deeside AM, was found dead at his home in November 2017. Four days earlier he had been sacked from his job as a cabinet secretary by then First Minister Carwyn Jones, after sexual harassment allegations had been made against him.
The inquest into Mr Sargeant’s death, which resumed on Monday following an adjournment in November, heard from Mr Jones for a second time about the support offered to Mr Sargeant before his death.
The coroner’s court at Ruthin County Hall also heard from Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, who contradicted Mr Jones’s evidence that she had a role in providing care and support for Mr Sargeant after he lost his job.
The court heard that since he first gave evidence, Mr Jones had provided a further statement in which he said, on reflection, he was incorrect to tell the inquest he had spoken to Mrs Jones over the weekend between Mr Sargeant losing his cabinet role and his death.
He said: “That’s what I thought at the time, but after further thought and having looked at the transcript, I sought to clarify that.”
Leslie Thomas QC, representing Mr Sargeant’s wife Bernie and son Jack, suggested Mr Jones was “caught in a lie”.
Mr Jones, who stepped down as first minister last December, said: “Are you calling me a liar?”
Mr Thomas replied: “Yes I am. The untruth only came to light when the witness came forward and you were caught out in a lie.”
Mr Jones said: “Not at all.”
Senior coroner John Gittins said: “Either you were mistaken in what you said to me or I was misled, and perhaps deliberately so, with a view to some type of PR that made your position somewhat more tenable.”
Ann Jones said she only heard of Mr Sargeant’s sacking on the news after returning from a family funeral.
She said when she turned her phone on, she had a text message from Matt Greenough – who was a special adviser to the then First Minister Carwyn Jones – asking her to check in on Mr Sargeant.
Mrs Jones told the hearing she did not take the message as an official request for her to act in a pastoral role, but she sent texts to Mr Sargeant “as a mate” and didn’t hear back from him until the Monday evening.
Mr Sargeant said he still didn’t know the detail of the allegations made against him, only details from the news, but thanked her for her support.
The inquest heard Mrs Jones learned of Mr Sargeant’s death in a Labour group meeting and the following day received a call from Carwyn Jones saying that due to “unprecedented press attention” he would have to tell the media he had asked her to take a caring role over Mr Sargeant.
The inquest will continue on Tuesday, when Mr Sargeant’s wife and son are expected to give evidence.