Wales politics

Q&A: A guide to the Lib Dem disqualification row

Two first-term Liberal Democrat AMs - John Dixon, who represents South Wales Central, and Aled Roberts, who represents the North Wales region - have been disqualified from the assembly. Here's a guide to the story.

Q: What's happened here?

A: It is illegal to become an AM while also a member of certain organisations set out in law. John Dixon was a member of the Care Council for Wales and Aled Roberts was a member of the Valuation Tribunal for Wales. When it emerged they were members at the time of their election they were disqualified. They've both resigned from these posts, but do not automatically become AMs again.

Q: Will they be allowed to resume their jobs?

Image caption John Dixon (top) and Aled Roberts being sworn in as AMs

A: Only if a majority of the remaining AMs vote in favour of a motion to disregard their disqualification. The Lib Dems put down a motion for Wednesday's afternoon plenary session to enable them to become AMs again, expecting cross-party support.

But it emerged that Labour, by far the largest party with 30 members, would refuse to back it, so it was withdrawn.

It remains likely that a motion will be passed in the coming weeks, but there may be conditions such as a formal apology or even suspension for the two members.

In the meantime, it gives Labour an outright majority of seats in the Senedd chamber - something the party fell one seat short of in the election.

Q: Could there even be another election?

A: No. Both are regional list members which means that in the event the assembly does not vote for them to return, their places would be filled by the next member down on that list - in the case of North Wales, this would mean a return for long serving Liberal Democrat AM Eleanor Burnham. But that's unlikely.

Q: Could the two face any other consequences?

A: In theory, the two may have committed electoral offences by signing their nomination papers for election to the assembly while not qualifying due to their membership of other organisations. This is defined in law as "corrupt practice" and carries a potential penalty of a fine or even imprisonment. The Welsh UKIP MEP John Bufton said he had contacted the police regarding the offence of electoral fraud.

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