Wales politics

Neil McEvoy suspended from Plaid Cymru Senedd group

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Media captionNeil McEvoy: "We're hoping to find a way forward"

Plaid Cymru AM Neil McEvoy has been suspended from the party's assembly group amid a row over bullying.

The group met after a tribunal suspended him for a month from being a Cardiff councillor.

Mr McEvoy claimed the tribunal proceedings - which ruled that a comment to a council officer was "bullying behaviour" - were a "farce".

He claimed he could be back in the group within hours as a separate party inquiry into his conduct continues.

A group statement said: "With Neil's agreement, the Plaid Cymru group has decided that he should be temporarily suspended from the group whilst agreement is sought on a way forward following recent events."

It added that, prior to the group meeting, leader Leanne Wood met Mr McEvoy and took the decision to remove him from his role as a Plaid spokesman on sport and tourism.

Prior to the suspension a Plaid Cymru spokeswoman told BBC Wales that the party's inquiry, being held by chairman Alun Ffred Jones, will "look at all evidence and complaints available to it".

Since the tribunal ruling on Friday, Mr McEvoy has been subject to a number of accusations on social media about his behaviour.

Image caption A handwritten statement announcing Neil McEvoy's suspension from the group was given to journalists outside the meeting on Tuesday

Mr McEvoy said: "This is a temporary suspension until me and the group can agree a statement together.

"We are a united group but I need to take legal advice before we agree our statement and so it's right that I'm temporarily suspended until that time.

"It could be that I'm back in the group in a few hours but I need to speak to my barrister first."

The South Wales Central AM also said he made "no apology for standing up" for a constituent who was facing eviction at a court case in July 2015, following which he made the comment judged to be bullying.

'No platform'

Meanwhile a group of domestic violence survivors and women's activists has written to Plaid Cymru calling for the party to review its support for Mr McEvoy.

The signatories include Rachel Williams, an ambassador for Welsh Women's Aid and a survivor of domestic violence herself.

The letter called on Plaid Cymru to "take the necessary measures (including suspension pending the investigation of fresh complaints) to ensure that he has no platform to attack the already fragile position of women in Wales".

Ms Williams told BBC Wales that she is a member of the Labour party.

Mr McEvoy has previously accused Welsh Women's Aid of "publicly funded child abuse" - comments for which he later apologised and received a formal warning from Plaid Cymru.

In response to the letter Mr McEvoy said: "I have consistently stood up for the underdog. I support both men and women who have been victims of domestic abuse."

Plaid assembly group chairman and South Wales West AM Dai Lloyd told reporters on Tuesday he did not agree with Mr McEvoy's criticism of the Adjudication Panel for Wales tribunal.

"I don't agree with him that it's a 'kangaroo' court... Personally you would have to respect the deliberations and the results of such an adjudication panel," Mr Lloyd said.

"As elected representatives, we owe it to ourselves professionally to always act in a way that is always mature and professional at all times, whatever difficult situation you find yourself in."

Analysis by Vaughan Roderick, BBC Welsh Affairs editor

The decision to suspend Neil McEvoy from the Plaid Cymru assembly group was probably inevitable given the animosity towards him from some, although not all, of his fellow Plaid AMs.

While the Cardiff Plaid leader's campaigning abilities are widely admired by the party rank and file, fellow AMs complain of him being in a "continual attack mode" and being more concerned with his own personal brand than the overall image of the party.

Had the group failed to act, it is likely that Labour in the assembly would have launched an all-out assault on the party's feminist and anti-bullying credentials - attacks that would have been particularly painful for Leanne Wood, who has often spoken out on both issues.

In the longer term, Mr McEvoy's ultimate fate will depend on the results of an inquiry being carried out by the party chairman, former AM Alun Ffred Jones.

With less than two months to go to the local elections, Plaid activists will hope that inquiry is completed sooner rather than later.

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