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Carl Sargeant

Carl Sargeant
Carl Sargeant AM (28092342211).jpg
Sargeant in 2016
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children
In office
19 May 2016 – 3 November 2017
First Minister Carwyn Jones
Preceded by Huw Lewis
Succeeded by position re-organised[1]
Member of the Welsh Assembly
for Alyn and Deeside
In office
1 May 2003 – 7 November 2017
Preceded by Tom Middlehurst
Majority 5,364 (24.7%)
Personal details
Born 1968
St Asaph, Flintshire, Wales
Died (aged 49)
Connah's Quay, Flintshire, Wales
Political party Welsh Labour (suspended from 3 November 2017)
Spouse(s) Bernie Sargeant
Children 2
Website Official website

Carl Sargeant (1968 – 7 November 2017) was a Welsh politician who was the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children in the Welsh Government. He represented the constituency of Alyn and Deeside in the National Assembly for Wales from 2003. Sargeant was removed from his Cabinet position and suspended from Welsh Labour on 3 November 2017 following allegations about his behaviour. He died four days later, reportedly taking his own life.

Background

Sargeant was born in St Asaph, Flintshire, to Sylvia (née Hughes) and Malcolm Sargeant.[2][3] Before becoming an Assembly Member, Sargeant worked as a process operator[4] at the Warwick International Limited chemical manufacturing plant[5] in Mostyn.[6] He was also a quality and environmental auditor and a member of the site's Emergency Response Team.[6]

He trained as an industrial firefighter, and became a school governor of Deeside College and Ysgol Bryn Deva primary school.[7][6]

Political career

His political career began as an elected member of Connah's Quay town council.[7] His political views developed following the ending of steel production at Shotton in 1980, which contributed to the area's high local unemployment rates.[7] He became an active campaigner for social justice and against domestic violence.[7]

Sargeant was first elected as the AM for Alyn and Deeside in the National Assembly for Wales election of 2003, after Tom Middlehurst stood down.[8]

He was appointed Chief Whip of the Labour Group and a Deputy Welsh Minister for Assembly Business in the Third Assembly of the Welsh Assembly Government (31 May 2007).[8] He remained Labour Chief Whip when the One Wales coalition government of Labour and Plaid Cymru was announced on 19 July.[9]

In December 2009, he was made Minister for Social Justice and Local Government in the cabinet of the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones'. Speaking to the Flintshire Chronicle, Sargeant spoke of his pride in being the first person from North Wales to hold the post.[9]

Sargeant campaigned for a Yes vote in the 2011 Welsh referendum.

In June 2011, he dismissed the three commissioners of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales, stating that the body "has lost the confidence of its stakeholders".[10] The two others, also members of the Boundary Commission for Wales, resigned their posts there, leading to the start of the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies being delayed in Wales.[11]

Following the 2016 National Assembly election, he was appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children. He led the Welsh Government's response to the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017.[12]

Amidst the 2017 Westminster sexual scandals he was suspended from the Labour Party and removed from his position on 3 November 2017, following unspecified allegations about his personal conduct.[13]

Death

Sargeant was found dead at his home in Connah's Quay on 7 November 2017. North Wales Police said that they were not treating his death as suspicious.[14] It was reported that Sargeant had taken his own life,[15] and at the opening of his inquest on 13 November, the coroner stated that his death was due to hanging, in "an apparent act of self harm".[16]

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described his death as "terrible and deeply shocking news".[14] First Minister Carwyn Jones said, "He made a big contribution to Welsh public life and fought tirelessly for those he represented both as a minister and as a local Assembly Member".[17] The afternoon session in the Welsh Assembly was suspended after the news of his death.[17]

He was married, with a son and daughter.[17]

Implications

Following Sargeant's death, some politicians criticised the process that had led to his dismissal and suspension. Assembly Member Jenny Rathbone said that Sargeant had not been told details of the allegations that had been made against him, and other Labour members suggested that Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones needed to answer questions about how the situation had been handled.[18] Sargeant's family released to the media copies of correspondence between his solicitor and Welsh Labour, in which Sargeant denied any inappropriate behaviour. The solicitor referred to "the anxiety and distress being caused to our client" (that is, Sargeant), and suggested that any delay in addressing the allegations would be "both prejudicial to the preparation of our client's case but also to his physical and mental wellbeing."[19]

On 9 November 2017 Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, asked Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, to set out the allegations made against Carl Sargeant.[20] Former minister Leighton Andrews said that in earlier years Sargeant had been the target of bullying and disinformation in the Assembly which had placed "a strain on his and others' mental health," and that this was known to Jones.[21] UK Independence Party Welsh Assembly member Neil Hamilton called for Jones to resign over the matter, saying that the suspension of Sargeant was both "heartless and in breach of the most fundamental principle of natural justice - giving the accused the right to defend himself."[22]

Sargeant's family called for a public inquiry into the way he had been treated. In a statement on 9 November, Carwyn Jones said that, once he had received allegations regarding inappropriate touching or groping by Sargeant, he had had no alternative but to dismiss him.[23] The following day, Jones announced that an independent inquiry into his actions would take place.[24]

Sargeant's death triggers a by-election for his seat, though as of 17 November this has not yet been scheduled.[25]

References

  1. ^ "Welsh Government | First Minister appoints new Ministerial team". gov.wales. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  2. ^ "Welsh Assembly candidate profile: Carl Sargeant – Labour (Alyn and Deeside)". Daily Post. 18 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 14 November 2017. 
  4. ^ Karim, Fariha (8 November 2017). "Carl Sargeant: family man who rose up ranks of Welsh Labour". The Times. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ Bagnall, Steve. "'He made a big contribution to Welsh public life' - Carl Sargeant's role in politics". Daily Post. 
  6. ^ a b c Annie Kane, "Carl Sargeant new Welsh Natural Resources Minister", Resource.co, 11 September 2014; accessed 7 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d Carl Sargeant AM, National Assembly for Wales profile; accessed 7 November 2017
  8. ^ a b "'He made a big contribution to Welsh public life' – Carl Sargeant's role in politics". Daily Post. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Carl Sargeant: An authentically working class politician committed to social justice". Western Mail. 7 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  10. ^ "Welsh local government boundary commissioners sacked". BBC News. 
  11. ^ "Boundary review put back to 2012". South Wales Evening Post. Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "No Grenfell Tower type cladding in Wales, says minister". BBC News. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  13. ^ "Carl Sargeant removed from Welsh Government after allegations". BBC News. Retrieved 5 November 2017. 
  14. ^ a b "Welsh Labour politician Carl Sargeant took own life days after being suspended over allegations about his conduct with women". telegraph. 7 November 2017. 
  15. ^ "Sacked Labour minister dies". 7 November 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  16. ^ "Carl Sargeant: 'Hanging' cause of ex-minister's death". BBC News. 13 November 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c "Carl Sargeant AM found dead". Deeside.com. Deeside.com. Retrieved 7 November 2017. 
  18. ^ "Carl Sargeant death: Criticism over sacking process". 8 November 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  19. ^ "Carl Sargeant's death: The correspondence". 8 November 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk. 
  20. ^ Rawlinson, Kevin; Morris, Steven; Halliday, Josh (2017-11-09). "Carl Sargeant lauded as Welsh first minister prepares statement". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  21. ^ "First minister knew of Carl Sargeant bullying, Andrews claims". BBC News. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  22. ^ "Neil Hamilton calls on First Minister to resign over handling of Carl Sargeant allegations". itv.com. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  23. ^ "No alternative but to sack Carl Sargeant says Carwyn Jones". BBC News. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  24. ^ "Carl Sargeant: First minister orders independent inquiry". BBC News. 2017-11-10. Retrieved 2017-11-10. 
  25. ^ Bagnall, Steve (8 November 2017). "Welsh Assembly suspends all business this week following Carl Sargeant's death". northwales. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 

External links

National Assembly for Wales
Preceded by
Tom Middlehurst
Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside
2003–2017
Vacant
Political offices
Preceded by
(new post)
Deputy Minister for Assembly Business and Chief Whip
31 May 2007 to 19 July 2007
Succeeded by
(post abolished)
Preceded by
Carl Sargeant
Chief Whip
2007–2009
Succeeded by
Janice Gregory
Preceded by
Brian Gibbons
Minister for Social Justice and Local Government
2009–2011
Succeeded by
(post-reorganised)
Preceded by
new post
Minister for Local Government and Communities
2011–2013
Succeeded by
(post-reorganised)
Preceded by
new post
Minister for Natural Resources
2013–2016
Succeeded by
(post-reorganised)
Preceded by
Lesley Griffiths
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children
2016–2017
Succeeded by
(post-reorganised)