Carl Sargeant’s family seek apology from ex-First Minister ahead of anniversary

The family of Carl Sargeant want former first minister Carwyn Jones to apologise for his treatment of the Welsh politician as they mark the two-year anniversary of his death.

Mr Sargeant’s widow and son say they have been unable to begin grieving for the late cabinet minister because of a “legal war” with the Welsh Government during an inquest process they say was used to smear his name.

Alyn and Deeside AM Mr Sargeant, 49, was found hanged at his home in Connah’s Quay on November 7 2017, four days after he was sacked by Mr Jones from his job as Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children following “bombshell” claims he groped and touched women.

An inquest into his death was finally completed 20 months later, after Mr Jones was recalled to give evidence and accused of lying about support offered to Mr Sargeant, and failed attempts by lawyers for the office of the First Minister to introduce evidence about the groping allegations.

Two years on from his death, Bernie Sargeant and Jack Sargeant say they have been traumatised by legal “game-playing”, and are waiting for an apology from Mr Jones both for his treatment of Mr Sargeant and for what they claim were his attempts to “blacken a dead mans name”.

They also said Mr Jones had shown “no remorse” in the two years since Mr Sargeant’s death.

Mrs Sargeant, 50, told the PA news agency: “I would like an apology off him. Sorry would mean the world.”

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Carl is not going to come back. But just a simple ‘I’m really sorry, maybe the procedure did go wrong’, an apology would speak volumes for me. For anyone who’s lost a loved one the pain is unimaginable. I struggle and some days I don’t want to get out of bed, but it’s been heightened by the drawn-out process and they way we’ve been treated at times by the ex-first minister.

– BERNIE SARGEANT

Jack Sargeant, 25, who has since taken over his father’s role in the Welsh Assembly, said his father’s inquest was “like an episode of House of Cards” and criticised Mr Jones for his role.

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The whole inquest was political game. This was a clear malicious attempt by the former First Minister to try and clear his name from the failings the government had at the time.

At times we were at war with the Welsh Government. A legal war paid by the public purse.

That was never-ending and it seemed acceptable for the former First Minister to blacken a dead mans name but also to clear his own.

The grieving process hasn’t started by a long stretch. We don’t know when that’s going to start. It hasn’t been allowed to start.

– JACK SARGEANT

Senior coroner for North Wales (East and Central) John Gittins ruled Mr Sargeant’s death was suicide and issued a report for the prevention of future deaths to the office of the First Minister, after raising concerns about the support available for ministers who lose their posts.

An independent inquiry launched by Mr Jones into how he handled his former minister’s sacking was paused indefinitely after High Court judges ruled in March it had been “unlawful” for the ex-first minister to have been involved in setting up its protocols.

Jack Sargeant said he had “every faith” the man chosen to lead the inquiry, Paul Bowen QC, would do so independently, but said he had doubts about the remit he would be allowed to work within as set by the Welsh Government.

The family also said they would welcome the participation of witnesses who had come forward with allegations against Mr Sargeant, but stressed both sides needed to be treated fairly.

Jack Sargeant said: “Both sides of the table need to be supported and treated fairly. If someone’s got a story to say and they’re brave enough to say it, because I imagine it would be an extremely difficult thing to do, I am the biggest believer in saying that and I would support anyone doing that.”

Neil Hudgson, the lawyer representing Mr Sargeant’s family, said he would be pushing for the inquiry to resume as soon as possible and appealed to current First Minister Mark Drakeford to help.

“If today is an opportunity on the second anniversary of Carl’s passing to restate it, I would openly invite the First Minister to get on the phone and get this moving as quickly as possible.”

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