First Minister defends actions over Carl Sargeant

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Carwyn Jones

Wales’ First Minister has said he acted “by the book” and had “no alternative” over his handling of allegations against the late Carl Sargeant.

Carwyn Jones gave a public statement in Cardiff this afternoon for the first time since the former communities minister was found dead on Tuesday.

Mr Jones, who has come under fire for how he handled matters in the days before Mr Sargeant’s death, told journalists: “I quite properly did all that I could to make sure that everything was being done by the book.

“I had no alternative but to take the action that I did and I hope that people will understand that.”

He added that he expects his actions to be scrutinised.

Mr Jones also paid tribute to his “friend” and colleague of 14 years, and said Wales has lost a person “of great warmth, ability and charisma”.

He did not resign, as many thought he might – though there are growing calls for him to step down.

The First Minister’s full statement is below:

This is an awful situation for everyone. I want to talk about Carl and his family today.

We’re all very shocked by what happened this week. There is great hurt, anger and bewilderment.

Carl was my friend. In all the years that I knew him I never had a cross word with him. For 14 years we worked together. He was a great Chief Whip and a Minister who served his country with distinction.

I cannot conceive of what Bernie and the family must be going through.

There are a lot of inaccuracies in the press and many of you have questions to ask about what happened last week. Everybody is grieving and it is not appropriate for me to get into the precise detail. These are matters for the future – things that will need to be properly disclosed through what should be a Coroner’s Inquest.

As there will in all probability be an Inquest, I and my team will of course be cooperating fully with any questions that are raised there.

The family deserve to have their questions answered and if that isn’t possible through the Inquest then I will endeavour to make that happen through other means.There is a legal process to go through and I am obviously acting within that. I welcome any scrutiny of my actions in the future and it is appropriate for that to be done independently.

I quite properly did all that I could to make sure that everything was being done by the book. I had no alternative but to take the action that I did and I hope that people will understand that.

Carl was a true force of nature – he drove through more legislation than any other Minister. Not just through force of argument, but through force of personality.

Wales has lost a person of great warmth, ability and charisma. These are the darkest days any of us can remember in this institution – but they are darkest of all for the family, and we must respect their right to grieve in peace at this time.

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The 49-year-old was found dead last Tuesday by his wife, four days after being removed from his role in the Welsh Government.

The inquest into the death of former Welsh government minister Carl Sargeant is due to open on Monday.

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