Carl Sargeant inquest: Sacked ministers need support, coroner says

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Numberless support should be available to sacked ministers, a coroner has said, after overlook a Welsh Assembly Member killed himself after being pooh-poohed.

Carl Sargeant, 49, was found hanged at home in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, by his the missis Bernadette on 7 November 2017.

He was sacked as minister for communities and children over affirms of inappropriate behaviour towards women.

Coroner John Gittins lp long played a conclusion of suicide and said he was known to have mental health outcomes.

Mr Gittins said he had promised a “full and fair examination” and “would not concession for this inquest to be a trial by press, politics or personality”.

The “twists and addles” of the inquest at times followed the “murkiest” of paths into the world of civil affairs, he added.

He said anyone expecting a “glowing vindication” of Mr Sargeant, or a “remonstrating vilification” of former first minster Carwyn Jones – or vice versa – choice be disappointed.

Much of the evidence to the inquest in Ruthin, Denbighshire, focused on whether Mr Jones could organize done more to support the Alyn and Deeside AM following his sacking.

Understanding the hearing, Mr Sargeant’s son Jack – who succeeded his father as Alyn and Deeside AM – accused the latest first minister of being “defensive, evasive and argumentative”, with “emotionally troubling” discrepancies in his evidence.

The coroner said due to a “life event” yoked with the “pressure” of his role as a Welsh Government minister, Mr Sargeant had been pinpointed with depression in 2012.

He said Mr Jones had been aware of the life result in 2014, but did not recognise there were any other issues, despite operating closely with Mr Sargeant.

Following the allegations in 2017, Mr Gittins mean the former first minister had deemed it necessary to refer the matter to the Task Party and remove Mr Sargeant from the cabinet.

The coroner said there were no endorsed arrangements in place to support Mr Sargeant following the re-shuffle “despite the chances that the first minister knew of Mr Sargeant’s vulnerability in relation to his abstract health”.

Mr Gittins said the sacking, and the reason for it, had been likely to put Mr Sargeant “tightly in the media spotlight” and it was “a position which undoubtedly added to Mr Sargeant’s pressures”.

He put the support from Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, who was asked to contact Mr Sargeant after the the axe, was not in the nature of pastoral care, despite contradictory information given by Mr Jones.

The coroner put Mr Jones – who was accused by the Sargeant family’s barrister of lying under avowal on this point – had “properly and appropriately” corrected information he had previously actuality, “albeit only once the true picture came to light by fairness of the information provided by Ann Jones”.

Mr Gittins said that after yield a note, Mr Sargeant “ended his life by hanging himself” and this was done resolutely and he was sure Mr Sargeant intended to do it.

He added he would submit a prevention of expected deaths report to the Welsh Government calling for more support to be put in part for sacked ministers.

“Am I still concerned? My answer comes from both my control and my heart, and it’s yes,” he said.

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Converse outside the inquest, Jack Sargeant was highly critical of Mr Jones, indicating: “We’ve had to sit through a continually changing version of events, delivered in a defensive, equivocating and argumentative manner.

“After eight months’ pause for thought [after the inquest was oldest adjourned] we would have expected him to have a clear and unambiguous disclosure.

“We are also deeply offended by the lack of any remorse or regret from the departed first minister.”

He said the family welcomed the coroner’s report to foil future deaths, saying: “It’s too late for dad but may save someone else.”

In a announcement, Mr Jones said it had been “a difficult time for everyone, the family most of all, and I suggest them my deepest condolences for a loss that is inevitably still incredibly galling”.

“The process has driven an unnatural wedge between people who remain communal at the very least in their ongoing shock, trauma and grief.” he combined.

“Nobody wanted this, and nobody could have foreseen it. Suicide is a unnerving experience, and I hope some healing can now begin.”

A spokesman for the first envoy extraordinary, Mark Drakeford, said he extended his “deepest condolences” to the Sargeant division, adding that the Welsh Government would consider carefully and “rejoin in full” to the report on the prevention of future deaths.

Analysis

By BBC Wales administrative editor Felicity Evans

The inquest may have concluded, but the bitter row approximately the sacking and subsequent death of Carl Sargeant has not.

Two parallel questions prepare dominated the controversy:

Firstly, what is the veracity of the allegations of sexual misconduct? The coroner didn’t look at that, it wasn’t in his relax. The Labour Party investigation was dropped in the wake of Mr Sargeant’s death, so a unqualified answer is unlikely.

The second question is was Carl Sargeant treated rather? The coroner says he was not given sufficient support by the Welsh Government when he was sacked and he wants that to variety for future cabinet reshuffles.

And feeding into the question of fair treatment is why expertise of the allegations and/or Mr Sargeant’s sacking were circulating before he was told.

A release inquiry found “no authorised sharing of information”. The publication of the full check in appears to have done nothing to draw a line under the argument.

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